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This is a complete list of Medal of Honor recipients for the Battle of Cold Harbor.

Medal of Honor[edit | edit source]

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.[1]

Ten men would receive the Medal of Honor for their actions during this battle.

The Battle of Cold Harbor[edit | edit source]

The Battle of Cold Harbor was fought from May 31 to June 12, 1864 (with the most significant fighting occurring on June 3). It was one of the final battles of Union Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant's Overland Campaign during the American Civil War, and is remembered as one of American history's bloodiest, most lopsided battles. Thousands of Union soldiers were killed or wounded in a hopeless frontal assault against the fortified positions of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee's army.

On May 31, as Grant's army once again swung around the right flank of Lee's army, Union cavalry seized the crossroads of Old Cold Harbor, about 10 miles northeast of the Confederate capital of Richmond, Virginia, holding it against Confederate attacks until the Union infantry arrived. Both Grant and Lee, whose armies had suffered enormous casualties in the Overland Campaign, received reinforcements. On the evening of June 1, the Union VI Corps and XVIII Corps arrived and assaulted the Confederate works to the west of the crossroads with some success.

On June 2, the remainder of both armies arrived and the Confederates built an elaborate series of fortifications 7 miles long. At dawn on June 3, three Union corps attacked the Confederate works on the southern end of the line and were easily repulsed with heavy casualties. Attempts to assault on the northern end of the line and to resume the assaults on the southern were unsuccessful.

Grant said of the battle in his memoirs, "I have always regretted that the last assault at Cold Harbor was ever made. ... No advantage whatever was gained to compensate for the heavy loss we sustained." The armies confronted each other on these lines until the night of June 12, when Grant again advanced by his left flank, marching to the James River. It was an impressive defensive victory for Lee, but it was his last in the war. In the final stage, he alternated between digging into the trenches at Petersburg and fleeing westward across Virginia.

Name Service Rank Date of action Notes[2][3][n 1]
Beatty, Alexander M.Alexander M. Beatty Army O-03Captain Jun 5, 1864 Removed, under a hot fire, a wounded member of his command to a place of safety.
Begley, TerrenceTerrence Begley* Army E-05Sergeant Jun 3, 1864 Shot a Confederate color bearer, rushed forward and seized his colors, and although exposed to heavy fire, regained the lines in safety.
Boss, OrlandoOrlando Boss Army E-04Corporal Jun 3, 1864 Rescued his lieutenant, who was lying between the lines mortally wounded; this under a heavy fire of the enemy.
Casey, David P.David P. Casey Army E-01Private Jun 3, 1864 Two color bearers having been shot dead one after the other, the last one far in advance of his regiment and close to the enemy's line, this soldier rushed forward, and, under a galling fire, after removing the dead body of the bearer therefrom, secured the flag and returned with it to the Union lines.
Doody, Patrick H.Patrick H. Doody Army E-04Corporal Jun 7, 1864 After making a successful personal reconnaissance, he gallantly led the skirmishers in a night attack, charging the enemy, and thus enabling the pioneers to put up works.
Henry, Guy V.Guy V. Henry Army O-06Colonel Jun 1, 1864 Led the assaults of his brigade upon the enemy's works.
Hill, EdwardEdward Hill Army O-03Captain Jun 1, 1864 Led the brigade skirmish line in a desperate charge on the enemy's masked batteries to the muzzles of the guns, where he was severely wounded.
Seitzinger, James M.James M. Seitzinger Army E-01Private Jun 3, 1864 When the color bearer was shot down, this soldier seized the colors and bore them gallantly in a charge against the enemy.
Tinkham, Eugene M.Eugene M. Tinkham Army E-04Corporal Jun 3, 1864 Though himself wounded, voluntarily left the rifle pits, crept out between the lines and, exposed to the severe fire of the enemy's guns at close range, brought within the lines 2 wounded and helpless comrades.
Williams, Le RoyLe Roy Williams Army E-05Sergeant Jun 3, 1864 Voluntarily exposed himself to the fire of the enemy's sharpshooters and located the body of his colonel who had been killed close to the enemy's lines. Under cover of darkness, with 4 companions, he recovered the body and brought it within the Union lines, having approached within a few feet of the Confederate pickets while so engaged.

Notes[edit | edit source]

  1. 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.

References[edit | edit source]

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