As fustrating is the lack of detail about where the fellow came from. Today"s hero came from Canada. Just where in Canada has yet to be discovered. But at least I have his right name. This is not always the case. Some enlisted under phoney names because they had run away from home, wife and kids, pregnant girlfriends, debts, or maybe 'all of the above". Some used nicknames instead of the real name. Some made up places they were from because they thought the recuiter would not enroll them unless they came from the US. One Canadian signed up in a name close to his but not quite correct. This fellow had very poor English and did not want to offend the recruiter who could not understand what he was saying, and so his name became what the officer decided was his (new) name. A name that stayed with him all through the Civil War and then for many more years till it came time to try and get a pension. A battle in itself that he probably felt was worse than some of his war experiences.
Creative applicants also took advantage off the bonus system. As the war advanced more and more warriors were needed. So the towns and states and even the feds decided to offer different amounts of bounty if you signed up. These ranged from a few hundred dollars to, in some cases a few thousand. And in those days $300 bought you a nice farm. One fellow signed up, deserted, signed up under another name and got a 2nd bounty. Things went so smoothly that he did it again and again and again, till on his 40th attempt he got caught and thrown in the brig. But I digress! There was also something called SUBSITUTE SERVICE. If there was no way you could leave the farm or had other bonafide excuses you could actually hire someone to go off to war in your place. You paid them a few bucks to do this. Some would even keep the name of the person they were replacing. One fellow who went off to war and being paid as a sustitute, served for a fellow who's name you might know. It was Abraham Lincoln. And yes, it was the same guy!
"He saved the life of an officer." Really!
This happened on the first of the three day Battle of the Wilderness, as shown, and in Harpers Weekly June 1864. from the battle of a month earlier.
During the battle musket sparks lit the forest on fire and ..."thousands perished in the dense thickets west of Fredericksburg, among them hundreds of wounded who were burned alive by the raging forest fires."
In the midst of all of this Sgt Rich, himself already wounded, managed to crawl out and save one of his officers, a Lt. Edward W Carter, pictured above. Rich would later state that he could not ask the man to stand up becauese his guts were wripped open and he was afraid they will spill onto the ground. The man was ultimately moved at least 11 times before getting to a hospital bed, sewn up and later recovered and being released from further service.
It was for this bravery that Rich was awarded the Medal of Honor, not on 4 Jan 1865 like all the records seem to show, but on 24 December 1864 as evidenced in a news report the following day in a NY paper.
And that award was took place 148 years ago today.
The street sign named after Carlos Rich, is pictured elsewhere on this site.