Friday, May 13, 2011

A Civil War Medal of Honor

On May 24, 1861 Charles Moore wrote a brief note to his father, Colonel A.C. Moore (retired), in it he stated, "I received my appointment of Quartermaster Sergeant of the 16th last evening and was sworn in this morning and am now on duty. I got my appointment through General Wool and Major Palmer. I have not time to write more, but when you write to me direct to CFM Quartermaster Sergeant of the 16th Regiment NY State, Albany, New York. Your son, C.F. Moore" Charles must have been very proud and relieved to have finally secured himself a role in the Union Army after trying all means of procuring a position - first with the Navy, then the Army - until his appointment as Quartermaster Sergeant.

The Medal of Honor
To commemorate the sesquicentennial of the American Civil War there is a new exhibit in the Lincoln Library at The Alice. Included in the exhibit are a few of Charles Moore's letters home to his parents, along with those written by three of William Miner's uncles, all of whom served for the Union during the war. The Lincoln Library usually holds many objects associated with our President, such as photographs and engravings of Lincoln and artifacts that once belonged to him. Also found in the Lincoln Library is a framed document signed by Abraham Lincoln conferring upon Captain George E. Gouraud of the United States Volunteers the rank of Major, "by brevet... for Gallant conduct on the field of battle in the engagement at Honey Hill, South Carolina, 31st December, 1864." Despite what the certificate reads, the date of the battle was actually November 30, 1864.
Through research of this document I have found an exciting bit of information we were not previously aware of here at The Alice - that we hold the military rank certificate for a man who was later awarded the highest military decoration awarded by the United States government, the Medal of Honor! Captain Gouraud eventually became Colonel Gouraud, and his rise can be traced back to the Battle at Honey Hill, South Carolina. Gouraud's Medal of Honor citation reads, "While under severe fire of the enemy, which drove back command, rendered valuable assistance in rallying the men." And the men on the Union side needed all the assistance they could get that day as they were severely defeated by the Confederate troops. When the chaos finally subsided, the Union has lost 89 men, 629 were wounded, and 28 went missing. George Gouraud was born in New York, New York in 1840. Following his military service he worked as an agent for Thomas Edison in London, where he introduced the new Edison Phonograph cylinder recording technology to England in 1888.

George E. Gouraud

We often point out Col. Gouraud's certificate to our tour participants primarily, until our research shed new light on its significance, because it was an original document signed by Abraham Lincoln. Now, however, we can include a little more information about the interesting man who earned it! Should you visit The Alice in the next few months you will have a chance to see the Civil War exhibit in the Lincoln Library - including Charles Moore's letters, the certificate of rank for our Medal of Honor recipient George Gouraud, carte-de-visite photographs of soldiers, Abraham Lincoln's inkwell and foot bath, and even a few objects related to the Confederate United States!

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