Well, today's story is about another fellow who seems to have also been a deserter. But he escaped the navy, changed his name, came back into the army and went on to earn a MOH as well. And like Asel Hagerty's story of a few days back, his MOH was also earned at Sailors Creek, close to Petersburg and just days before the Civil War came to an end.
Charles Felix Kauffman was born in Strasburg France in 1844 and by age 4 his family had relocated to the US. By age 20 he had left home, probably against his parents wishes, and to hide from them he joined the US Navy for Civil War service under the name of John Chapman. He claimed birth at Saint John New Brunswick, Canada. His papers though misspelled it as being St. Johns. Felix/John apparently served on three vessels... the USS Olive, Vermont and Monongala as a coal-heaver or fireman and may have done close to a three year term before apparently deserting.
Charles /John served with the unit only from October till the following September, just shy of one year. He would have been in the thick of battle near Petersburg and then travel with his unit to do city protection at City Point and then on to Sailors Creek were the last major engagement of the war took place. This was just a few days before the war came to an end with General Lee's surrender of about 27,800 Confederate soldiers after battling it out with over 100,000 Union soldiers at a place called Appomattox Court House.
During the battle at Sailors Creek Charles/John captured one of the Confederate flags. Research has yet to locate details of what flag was involved or circumstances surrounding the event. Nevertheless, on 16 April 1865 General Meade, who was the commander of the Army of the Potomac, wrote to Adj. General Townsend. In his letter he gave notice that he has already provided 30 days furlough to 15 soldiers, including Haggerty of a few blogs ago, Chapman and also Lt Custer, brother of the famed General. He noted that these soldiers had captured flags and recommended that each be awarded a Medal of Honor. Eleven days later, on the 27th it appears the affirmative decision was made and a list of some 98 soldiers names were sent to the Chief Clerk of the War Office with the direction to make the medals as soon as possible and have them ready for delivery. Custer, Haggerty and Chapman's names were all included in this list.
On June 3 1865 a total of 85 flags were hand delivered at DC to the Secretary of War by the very men who had captured them Custer, Haggerty and Chapman were among those who not only presented their prized Confederate flags, but got to shake the hand of the Secretary of War and possibly had a most brief conversation with him. Medals had by that time already been forwarded to General Meade with the request that they be presented to the recipients as soon as possible. Some references say medals were given at the flag presentation ceremony in June. Who knows?
Back on 7 January I posted a blog on this site about several Canadian MOH recipients buried in California. Information was posted there about the work of a California lady who had located the Kauffman grave and noted it said nothing about the alias or that the hero was in fact a MOH recipient. She then went to work to have this changed and her results are evident in the picture on the right and above. She also arranged to have a suitable unveiling ceremony, and for this.. .kudo's to her for her work. She also was put in touch with the Canadian Council General office in Los Angeles by me and as a result the American flag presented at the Chapman service ultimately was presented to the CG's office for permanent display. A few years ago I visited that office and saw the flag on display. If in California you ought to visit it as well.
Charles Felix Kauffman, AKA John Chapman's date of action that resulted in his being awarded the Medal of Honor took place 158 years ago Saturday past.