Prologue Magazine

The Army Medal of Honor, Part 2

Summer 2001, Vol. 33, No. 2 | Genealogy Notes

By Mark C. Mollan

The Army Civil War Campaign Medal

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The Civil War Campaign Medal, established in 1907, recognized living veterans of that war. (NARA, Records of the Adjutant General's Office, 1780's–1917, RG 94)

Although the Medal of Honor was the only medal given to soldiers during the American Civil War, it was not the only medal awarded to recognize soldiers of the war. More than forty years after the close of the conflict, the War Department in 1907 authorized the striking of a special medal for all living Civil War veterans who had served in the U.S. Army or Volunteer units between April 15, 1861, and April 9, 1865. (Soldiers serving in Texas until August 20, 1866, were allowed to apply for the medal, as well.)

The keys to finding the recipients of these medals lies in the records of the Office of the Quartermaster General (Record Group 92). Entries 257 through 274 encompass a wide swath of army medal records, including medals awarded to veterans of the Spanish American War, Boxer Rebellion, Philippine Insurrection, and Mexican Border service as well as the Civil War. Researchers sure their subject received an army medal in the late nineteenth or early twentieth century, but are unsure which medal it may be, should check the Name Index Cards to Series 257 through 274 (Entry 256). For example, if we look in the Index for "Benson, Henry M.," we discover that he received a Civil War Campaign Badge for his service as captain of the First California Infantry Volunteers unit. Also listed in the record is a serial number, which denotes the number assigned to the correspondence received by the Quartermaster Office. A second number, #318, gives the badge number that was etched into the medal prior to its presentation. This record also reveals that Benson retired from the army as a major and was living at the Potter Hotel in Santa Barbara, California, when he received his medal.

For researchers wishing to discover the name of a recipient for a particular Civil War Campaign Medal, little more effort is required. Entry 286 of the Quartermaster Records is the Serial List of Badges and Medals Issued for Various Campaigns 1907–1925, including the Civil War Campaign Medal. Only the first 554 Civil War Campaign Medals distributed were assigned a number; the remainder were distributed without numbers. For example, if one locates the documentation for badge #318 in this series, one finds that this medal was given to our friend Henry M. Benson, a retired major, and his medal was officially awarded on September 6, 1910.

For a complete published list of numbered Civil War Campaign Medals or more information about this medal, consult John M. Carroll's The Civil War Campaign Medal (Frontier Military Research and Preservation Society, 1987).

See also this related article:


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