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George H. Bell
George H Bell, Medal of Honor.jpg
Bell wearing his Medal of Honor, circa 1900
Born (1839-03-12)March 12, 1839
Died September 26, 1917(1917-09-26) (aged 78)
Place of birth Sunderland, England
Place of burial Newcastle upon Tyne, England
Allegiance United States
Service/branch United States Navy
Years of service 1861 – 1865 or 1866
Rank Captain of the afterguard
Unit USS Santee
Battles/wars American Civil War
Awards Medal of Honor

George H. Bell (March 12, 1839 – September 26, 1917) was a Union Navy sailor in the American Civil War and a recipient of the U.S. military's highest decoration, the Medal of Honor, for his actions during an 1861 engagement.

Born on March 12, 1839, in Sunderland, England, Bell's family moved to Newcastle upon Tyne in the mid-1840s. He began his maritime career at age fourteen and over the next seven years sailed the Atlantic Ocean, Baltic Sea, Black Sea, Caribbean Sea, Indian Ocean, and Mediterranean Sea. While docked in New York City on May 12, 1861, just after the onset of the American Civil War, Bell enlisted in the United States Navy. In July, he joined the USS Santee as an able seaman but was quickly promoted to coxswain due to his sailing experience.[1]

At Galveston Bay, Texas, on November 7, 1861, he distinguished himself during a mission to destroy the Confederate ship Royal Yacht. For this action, he was awarded the Medal of Honor two years later, on July 10, 1863.[2][3]

Bell's official Medal of Honor citation reads:

Served as pilot of the U.S.S. Santee when that vessel was engaged in cutting out the rebel armed schooner Royal Yacht from Galveston Bay, 7 November 1861, and evinced more coolness, in passing the 4 forts and the rebel steamer General Rusk, than was ever before witnessed by his commanding officer. "Although severely wounded in the encounter, he displayed extraordinary courage under the most painful and trying circumstances."[3]

Bell died on September 26, 1917, at age 78 and was buried in Newcastle upon Tyne, England.[2]


  1. Neal, Charles M. (January 7, 2003). Valor Across the Lone Star: The Congressional Medal of Honor in Frontier Texas. Austin: Texas State Historical Association. pp. 258–259. ISBN 9780876111840. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 "George H. Bell". Military Times. Retrieved August 30, 2013. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Medal of Honor Recipients, Civil War (A–F)". United States Army Center of Military History. August 13, 2013. Retrieved August 30, 2013. 

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