This is a complete list of Medal of Honor recipients for the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House.
Medal of Honor
The Medal of Honor is the highest military decoration awarded by the United States government and is bestowed on a member of the United States armed forces who 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 an enemy of the United States…" Due to the nature of this medal, it is commonly presented posthumously.
Forty-two men would receive the Medal of Honor for their actions during this battle. During this battle more than 20 men captured the enemies unit flags including Sergeant Charles H. Fasnacht who captured the flag of the 2nd Louisiana Tigers (C.S.A.) in hand-to-hand fighting.[n 1]
Battle of Spotsylvania Court House
The Battle of Spotsylvania Court House was the second major battle in Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant's 1864 Overland Campaign of the American Civil War. Following the bloody but inconclusive Battle of the Wilderness, Grant's army disengaged from Confederate General Robert E. Lee's army and moved to the southeast, attempting to lure Lee into battle under more favorable conditions. Elements of Lee's army beat the Union army to the critical crossroads of Spotsylvania Court House and began entrenching. Fighting occurred on and off from May 8 through May 21, 1864, as Grant tried various schemes to break the Confederate line. In the end, the battle was tactically inconclusive, but with almost 32,000 casualties on both sides, it was the costliest battle of the campaign.
On May 8, Union Maj. Gens. Gouverneur K. Warren and John Sedgwick unsuccessfully attempted to dislodge the Confederates under Maj. Gen. Richard H. Anderson from Laurel Hill, a position that was blocking them from Spotsylvania Court House. On May 10, Grant ordered attacks across the Confederate line of earthworks, which by now extended over 4 miles (6.5 km), including a prominent salient known as the Mule Shoe. Although the Union troops failed again at Laurel Hill, an innovative assault attempt by Col. Emory Upton against the Mule Shoe showed promise.
Grant used Upton's assault technique on a much larger scale on May 12 when he ordered the 15,000 men of Maj. Gen. Winfield S. Hancock's corps to assault the Mule Shoe. Hancock was initially successful, but the Confederate leadership rallied and repulsed his incursion. Attacks by Maj. Gen. Horatio G. Wright on the western edge of the Mule Shoe, which became known as the "Bloody Angle", involved almost 24 hours of desperate hand-to-hand fighting, some of the most intense of the Civil War. Supporting attacks by Warren and by Maj. Gen. Ambrose Burnside were unsuccessful.
Grant repositioned his lines in another attempt to engage Lee under more favorable conditions and launched a final attack by Hancock on May 18, which made no progress. A reconnaissance in force by Confederate Lt. Gen. Richard S. Ewell at Harris farm on May 19 was a costly and pointless failure. On May 21, Grant disengaged from the Confederate Army and started southeast on another maneuver to turn Lee's right flank, as the Overland Campaign continued toward the Battle of North Anna.
|Name||Service||Rank||Date of action||Notes[n 1]|
|Frederick Alber||Army||Private||May 12, 1864||Bravely rescued Lt. Charles H. Todd of his regiment who had been captured by a party of Confederates by shooting down one, knocking over another with the butt of his musket, and taking them both prisoners.|
|Robert W. Ammerman||Army||Private||May 12, 1864||Capture of battle flag of 8th North Carolina (C.S.A.), being one of the foremost in the assault.|
|Nathaniel C. Barker||Army||Sergeant||May 12, 1864||Six color bearers of the regiment having been killed, he voluntarily took both flags of the regiment and carried them through the remainder of the battle.|
|Richard Beddows||Army||Private||May 18, 1864||Brought his guidon off in safety under a heavy fire of musketry after he had lost it by his horse becoming furious from the bursting of a shell.|
|John P. Beech||Army||Sergeant||May 12, 1864||Voluntarily assisted in working the guns of a battery, all the members of which had been killed or wounded.|
|Samuel N. Benjamin||Army||First Lieutenant||Jul 1861 – May 1864||Particularly distinguished services as an artillery officer. Received for actions between Bull Run to Spotsylvania, Virginia|
|Francis A. Bishop||Army||Private||May 12, 1864||Capture of flag|
|E. Michael Burk||Army||Private||May 12, 1864||Capture of flag, seizing it as his regiment advanced over the enemy's works. He received a bullet wound in the chest while capturing flag.|
|Dayton P. Clarke||Army||Captain||May 12, 1864||Distinguished conduct in a desperate hand-to-hand fight while commanding the regiment|
|Charles H. Clausen||Army||First Lieutenant||May 12, 1864||Although severely wounded, he led the regiment against the enemy, under a terrific fire, and saved a battery from capture|
|James M. Cutts||Army||Captain||1864||Gallantry in actions. Received for actions in the Battle of the Wilderness; Spotsylvania and Petersburg, Virginia|
|Charles S. Fall||Army||Sergeant||May 12, 1864||Was one of the first to mount the Confederate works, where he bayoneted two of the enemy and captured a Confederate flag, but threw it away to continue the pursuit of the enemy.|
|Charles H. Fasnacht||Army||Sergeant||May 12, 1864||Capture of flag of 2nd Louisiana Tigers (C.S.A.) in a hand-to-hand contest.|
|Archibald Freeman||Army||Private||May 12, 1864||Capture of flag of 17th Louisiana (C.S.A.).|
|George W. Harris||Army||Private||May 12, 1864||Capture of flag, wresting it from the color bearer and shooting an officer who attempted to regain it.|
|William Jones||Army||First Sergeant||May 12, 1864||Capture of flag of 65th Virginia Infantry (C.S.A.).|
|John M. Kindig||Army||Corporal||May 12, 1864||Capture of flag of 28th North Carolina Infantry. (C.S.A.).|
|John Kinsey||Army||Corporal||May 18, 1864||Seized the colors, the color bearer having been shot, and with great gallantry succeeded in saving them from capture.|
|Albert Marsh||Army||Sergeant||May 12, 1864||Captured the enemy flag|
|Charles McAnally||Army||Lieutenant||May 12, 1864||In a hand-to-hand encounter with the enemy captured a flag, was wounded in the act, but continued on duty until he received a second wound.|
|Daniel McFall||Army||Sergeant||May 12, 1864||Captured Col. Barker, commanding the Confederate brigade that charged the Union batteries; on the same day rescued Lt. George W. Harmon of his regiment from the enemy.|
|Alexander U. McHale||Army||Corporal||May 12, 1864||Captured a Confederate color in a charge, threw the flag over in front of the works, and continued in the charge upon the enemy.|
|Alexander H. Mitchell||Army||First Lieutenant||May 12, 1864||Capture of flag of 18th North Carolina Infantry (C.S.A.), in a personal encounter with the color bearer.|
|Lewis Morgan||Army||Private||May 12, 1864||Capture of flag from the enemy's works.|
|Benjamin Morse||Army||Private||May 12, 1864||Capture of colors of 4th Georgia Battery (C.S.A.)|
|Conrad Noll||Army||Sergeant||May 12, 1864||Seized the colors, the color bearer having been shot down, and gallantly fought his way out with them, though the enemy were on the left flank and rear.|
|William W. Noyes||Army||Private||May 12, 1864||Standing upon the top of the breastworks, deliberately took aim and fired no less than 15 shots into the enemy's lines, but a few yards away.|
|Augustus I. Robbins||Army||Second Lieutenant||May 12, 1864||While voluntarily serving as a staff officer successfully withdrew a regiment across and around a severely exposed position to the rest of the command; was severely wounded.|
|Thomas Robinson||Army||Private||May 12, 1864||Capture of flag in a hand_to_hand conflict.|
|Valentine Rossbach||Army||Sergeant||May 12, 1864||Encouraged his cannoneers to hold a very dangerous position, and when all depended on several good shots it was from his piece that the most effective were delivered, causing the enemy's fire to cease and thereby relieving the critical position of the Federal troops.|
|Lewis A. Rounds||Army||Private||May 12, 1864||Capture of flag.|
|Charles L. Russell||Army||Corporal||May 12, 1864||Capture of flag of 42d Virginia Infantry (C.S.A.).|
|Philipp Schlachter||Army||Private||May 12, 1864||Capture of flag of 15th Louisiana Infantry (C.S.A.).|
|Thomas O. Seaver||Army||Colonel||May 10, 1864||At the head of 3 regiments and under a most galling fire attacked and occupied the enemy's works.|
|Charles A. Thompson||Army||Sergeant||May 12, 1864||After the regiment was surrounded and all resistance seemed useless, fought single-handed for the colors and refused to give them up until he had appealed to his superior officers.|
|Charles H. Tracy||Army||Sergeant||May 12, 1864 and Apr 2, 1865||At the risk of his own life, at Spotsylvania, 12 May 1864, assisted in carrying to a place of safety a wounded and helpless officer. Also received for his actions in the Third Battle of Petersburg, Virginia.|
|John H. Weeks||Army||Private||May 12, 1864||Capture of flag and color bearer using an empty cocked rifle while outnumbered 5 or 6.|
|William Westerhold||Army||Sergeant||May 12, 1864||Capture of flag of 23d Virginia Infantry (C.S.A.).|
|Frank M. Whitman||Army||Private||Sep 17, 1862 and May 18, 1864||Was among the last to leave the field at Antietam and was instrumental in saving the lives of several of his comrades at the imminent risk of his own. At Spotsylvania was foremost in line in the assault, where he lost a leg. Received for actions in the Battle of Antietam, Maryland and Battle of Spotsylvania Court House, Virginia|
|William H. Wilcox||Army||Sergeant||May 12, 1864||Took command of his company, deployed as skirmishers, after the officers in command of the skirmish line had both been wounded, conducting himself gallantly; afterwards, becoming separated from command, he asked and obtained permission to fight in another company.|
|Christopher W. Wilson||Army||Private||May 12, 1864||Took the flag from the wounded color bearer and carried it in the charge over the Confederate works, in which charge he also captured the colors of the 56th Virginia (C.S.A.) bringing off both flags in safety.|
|Lewis S. Wisner||Army||First Lieutenant||May 12, 1864||While serving as an engineer officer voluntarily exposed himself to the enemy's fire.|
- Many of the awards during the Civil War were for capturing or saving regimental flags. During the Civil War, regimental flags served as the rallying point for the unit, and guided the unit's movements. Loss of the flag could greatly disrupt a unit, and could have a greater effect than the death of the commanding officer.
- "A Brief History — The Medal of Honor". United States Department of Defense. http://archive.defense.gov/faq/pis/med_of_honor.aspx.
- "Medal of Honor recipients". Civil War (A-L) Medal of Honor Recipients. United States Army Center of Military History. July 29, 2013. http://www.history.army.mil/html/moh/civwaral.html. Retrieved April 22, 2017.
- "Medal of Honor recipients". Civil War (M-Z) Medal of Honor Recipients. United States Army Center of Military History. June 27, 2011. http://www.history.army.mil/html/moh/civwarmz.html. Retrieved April 22, 2017.
- Bonekemper, Edward H., III. A Victor, Not a Butcher: Ulysses S. Grant's Overlooked Military Genius. Washington, DC: Regnery, 2004. ISBN 0-89526-062-X.
- Kennedy, Frances H., ed. The Civil War Battlefield Guide. 2nd ed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1998. ISBN 0-395-74012-6.
- Salmon, John S. The Official Virginia Civil War Battlefield Guide. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 2001. ISBN 0-8117-2868-4.
- Trudeau, Noah Andre. The Last Citadel: Petersburg, Virginia, June 1864 – April 1865. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1991. ISBN 0-8071-1861-3.
- "Medal of Honor recipients". Listing of Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen who received the Medal of Honor during World War II. United States Army Center of Military History. March 21, 2016. http://www.history.army.mil/moh/index.html. Retrieved April 22, 2017.