List of American Civil War Medal of Honor recipients facts for kids
The Medal of Honor was first presented in the American Civil War. President Abraham Lincoln signed a bill creating the medal. When it started it was for the United States Navy. It was signed on December 21, 1861. It was "to be bestowed upon such petty officers, seamen, landsmen, and Marines as shall most distinguish themselves by their gallantry and other seamanlike qualities during the present war." Another law was created to include the United States Army. That law was signed by the president on July 12, 1862.
While the Medal of Honor is now the highest military decoration attainable by a member of the United States armed forces, during the Civil War, it was the only one. This means it was often earned for reasons that would not meet modern criteria. For example, Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton promised a Medal of Honor to every man in the 27th Maine Volunteer Infantry Regiment who extended his enlistment. 311 men in the unit accepted. Because there was no official list of their names, the War Department issued 864. One for each man in the unit. In 1916, a group of five retired generals reviewed Army awards and recommended that these 864 and others be revoked.
Since then 3,464 Medals of Honor have been presented. 1522 were for actions during the American Civil War. The first Medals of Honor were given to many of the participants of the Andrews' Raid. Some of the people from the raid received them after they died (posthumously). Andrews himself was a civilian and thus ineligible at the time. Mary Edwards Walker was a surgeon and became the only woman (and one of only eight civilians) who received a Medal of Honor. It was later taken away but after many years it was given back. Twenty-five were presented to African Americans. These included seven sailors of the Union Navy. Fifteen soldiers of the United States Colored Troops received it for their actions. Three soldiers of other Army units also received it. It was common for Civil War Medals of Honor to be granted decades after the conflict ended. In the case of Andrew Jackson Smith the Medal was not authorized until 2001. That is 137 years after the action in which he earned it. Smith's wait was caused by a missing battle report. It is the longest delay of the medal for any recipient.
- List of American Civil War Medal of Honor recipients: A–F
- List of American Civil War Medal of Honor recipients: G–L
- List of American Civil War Medal of Honor recipients: M–P
- List of American Civil War Medal of Honor recipients: Q–S
- List of American Civil War Medal of Honor recipients: T–Z
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