it told a fascinating story about a recipient who almost became a double recipient. My interest was not only in the potential double status, but also that he was involved in the Spanish American War cable cutting incident of which regular readers have read much here, over the past four years.
The hero of the story was a sailor named Robert Blume. While very familiar with the cable cutting activities, the November article said that Blume almost got a 2nd medal. I will be researching this more, and addressing it further down the road.
Though the article gave brief mention to others who were awarded the MOH, no names from Canada were in the story. It however was wonderful to see that Mrs. Smith noted how many medals actually were awarded to foreign born recipients.
I emailed the Atlantic Highlands Herald, who carried the story and asked to be put in touch with the author. I wanted to discuss the double event, and provide some input on the Canadian involvement in the same battle. I also wanted to thank her for also acknowledging that so many of the recipients of the medal were actually non American born. A point usually missed in most media coverage on the high honour.
But this one wasn't !
In very short order I received a response and the writer and I have exchanged a few emails since. She has also done a great follow-up article in the same paper/website and it can be read at.... http://www.ahherald.com/columns-list/history-and-happenings/23640-highlands%E2%80%99-chief-blume-and-canadian-heroes (If this fails, just google... Highland's Chief Blume and Canadian Heroes.) The author and I have agreed to disagree about a comment I made in an earlier blog regarding the border agents and not allowing some Canadian entry during the inaugeration weekend. So if you go to their site, ignore the last line in the story. hehe
I have mentioned in past blogs that the actual Blume medal was in Canada with a collector at one point, but he then decided to break the law by trying to sell it and another... to an FBI agent. One suspects he won't try that again. However, the FBI very kindly provided me with several photo's of both medals. One is show above, but is difficult to read. It gives his name, rank, notes the cable cutting incident, date and place of action as well.
Moving on to another topic, a few weeks back a long time supporter of my work emailed me from Australia, I do believe. He commented on a recent point I made in a blog about the famous... or should I say infamous 1917 Purge of over 900 Medals of Honor. A matter written about often in this space.
He correctly stated that the results of the Purge did not actually kill the medals issues, but in a round about way, removed the names of the recipients from an Honor Roll and one that, if not listed, precluded some benefits, such as a military pension. I wrote back agreeing but adding that the original instructions were to have all of the mentioned medals returned. I however also added that there being no provision in the flawed legislation that permitted any enforcement action. I also said that being de-listed ultimately led to lists being created that to this day no longer refer to a former recipient as being a recipient. Regardless of the law that says he is still a recipient.
On that note, here is a paragraph from a blog back in 2013 on point...
In fact a new pyramid of bravery medals was established, that today could fill your chest. But from 1861 to 65... and much later... there was only one. And the President of the day had the authority to make the award. What the Purge did was to challenge what an earlier president did, and enforced new rules, with newer attitudes, on those who had been lawfully awarded and wore the medals with pride for half a century.
There is ample evidence that even the five Generals knew what they were being ordered to do was not only illegal, and insulting but ridiculous. But to this day it seems the matter remains to be challenged by the very people and organizations that promote its worthiness.
Looking back to CW days, and the 27th Maine, well covered here in the past, the newspapers of the day were screaming for recruits. This, at the very time that the President and Secretary of War pleaded with 2 regiments to stay after their terms of service were up because of potential disaster for the Union if they lost the battle at Gettysburg.
They made promises, within their powers, and some stayed behind and ultimately got medals as promised. Problem was that bureaucrats screwed it up by sending medals to all in the regiment. Then in 1917 all those entitled... and those not... were told... you can no longer have that or wear it. If you do you might go to jail. While the later should not have gotten them, laws said that there was a way to resolve it in the courts. But government decided they will just do it another way. Regardless of the law of the day... and to this one.
Lets look at some adds of the day to further prove the point...
Government was having a problem getting men to sign up and the adds tell you that these promises were made repeatedly to induce enrollment. Such promises surely would have had to have originated in the very office of the President.
Somewhere I have an add that even promises MOH's to those who simply enlist... till you read the very fine print. These solicitations for service started to offer a few bucks and then gradually increased in many cases to well over $1,000. Hard to read, but the above news add offers $50 to sign up, while on the right, only $10 is offered.
In Civil War days $300 would be enough to buy you a farm, and was huge pile of money to send home to family while you were away, and perhaps never coming home again.
Above, you also see an add for Substitutes. There are many who could or would not serve for a variety of reasons. If able to, they could actually enter a contract with another fellow to go off to war in his place, and he would pay the volunteer whatever the going rate of the day was.
Many a creative soldier would sign up, get a bounty, and then desert. Go to the next town along the road, sign up with another outfit, desert again, get more bounties, and keep going till he got caught and sent to jail, or perhaps even shot for desertion. There are a few major bounty jumpers, one said to have served in OVER 90 Regiments, and deserting.
One of the more well known cases of someone hiring another to go off to war in his stead as a substitute was a fellow named Abe Lincoln. That story has appeared in this space in the past.
Well, I think that is enough for today. Don't forget that there will be no blog this weekend, but I will be returning for the March 12th blog,