The Medal of Honor, established by joint resolution of Congress, 12 July 1862 (amended by Act of 9 July 1918 and Act of 25 July 1963) is awarded in the name of Congress to a person who, while a member of the Armed Services, distinguishes himself conspicuously by gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while engaged in an action against any enemy of The United States; while engaged in military operations involving conflict with an opposing foreign force; or while serving with friendly foreign forces engaged in an armed conflict against an opposing armed force in which The United States is not a belligerent party. The deed performed must have been one of personal bravery or self-sacrifice so conspicuous as to clearly distinguish the individual above his comrades and must have involved risk of life. Incontestable proof of the performance of service is exacted and each recommendation for award of this decoration is considered on the standard of extraordinary merit.
The Medal of Honor was first issued during the Civil War, and since it was
the only military award for valor during that war, 1,527 medals were awarded.
By the time of the Spanish American War, there were more earned medals
available for distribution, and the Medal of Honor became the supreme honor.
During the military action in
Early in the Civil War, a medal for individual valor was
proposed to General-in-Chief of the Army Winfield Scott. But Scott felt medals
smacked of European affectation and killed the idea.
The medal found support in the Navy, however, where it was felt recognition of courage in strife was needed. Public Resolution 82, containing a provision for a Navy medal of valor, was signed into law by President Abraham Lincoln on December 21, 1861. The medal 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."
Shortly after this, a resolution similar in wording was introduced on behalf of the Army. Signed into law July 12, 1862, the measure provided for awarding a medal of honor "to such noncommissioned officers and privates as shall most distinguish themselves by their gallantry in action, and other soldier like qualities, during the present insurrection."
Although it was created for the Civil War, Congress made the Medal of Honor a permanent decoration in 1863. 1,520 Medals were awarded during the Civil War, 1,195 to the Army, 308 to the , 17 to the Marines. 25 Medals were awarded posthumously.
CADWALLADER, ABEL G.
Rank and organization: Corporal, Company H, 1st Maryland Infantry. Place and
date: At Hatchers Run and
†Four soldiers earned the Medal of Honor in the action with Confederate forces at Dabney's Mills, Virginia, on February 6, 1865, and six more men earned Medals of Honor on the same day for heroism at Hatcher's Run. Corporal Abel Cadwallader was the only one of these ten to be cited for his heroism at both actions, and was awarded the Medal of Honor for gallantly planting the flag of his regiment on the enemy's works while in advance of the other soldiers of his unit.
and organization: Private, Company G, 1st Maryland Infantry. Place
and date. At
†Company H and 2d Lt. Company M, 1st
He was recognized for his action
at the Weldon railroad. Ayresí 2nd division was hard pressed
by a heavy rebel flanking assault. Col Dushane
pulled the 1st MD back to cover the open hole in the 5th
Corps front. The
In the battle the 1st MD lost 1 officer, 1 soldier, and Col Wilsonís horse. Wounded were 4 officers and 50 men.
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