Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Trans-Mississippi and the Medal of Honor

Recently, I wondered how many Medals of Honor had been awarded for actions in the trans-Mississippi during the Civil War. So….I found out! There are several lists of the 1,522 recipients of the Medal of Honor during the Civil War on the internet. I used the A-L list and the M-Z list from the U. S. Army’s Center of Military History website. After studying this list, I pulled out the listings for those men who earned a Medal of Honor for actions in the trans-Mississippi. As with any list of this type some decisions had to be made about which men to include. I decided to include the twenty sailors who won the honor for their actions at Fort Jackson and Fort St. Philip near New Orleans in April 1862. Was this really a trans-Mississippi action? Well, at least part of it was so I included these men. Also, I included two sailors who received citations for actions aboard the U. S. S. Louisville in early 1863; their citations are vaguely worded but may include actions by the ship at Arkansas Post in 1863.

With those caveats, here are some statistics that may be of interest to you:

The total number of soldiers and sailors who received the Medal of Honor for actions in the trans-Mississippi totaled 68; that equals approximately 4.5% of all the Medals of Honor issued during the war. Not a very big percentage is it?

Of the 68 Medals awarded, 48.5% were given to those who served in the Army and 51.4% were given to members of the Navy.

The trans-Mississippi action that resulted in the most Medals of Honor awarded were the twenty issued to sailors for their actions at Fort Jackson and Fort St. Philip. Five were issued for actions during the battle of Wilson’s Creek, and four were issued for acts of bravery during the battle of Pea Ridge.

The number of Medals of Honor awarded by year:


The number of Medals of Honor awarded for action in a specific state or territory (if a state or territory is not listed then no Medal of Honor was awarded for action in that place):

Arizona Territory=1

Three army units had three Medal of Honor recipients each. They were:

37th Illinois Infantry
3rd Iowa Cavalry
3rd Wisconsin Cavalry

Two sets of brothers received Medals of Honor in the trans-Mississippi. They were:

William C. Black and John C. Black of the 37th Illinois Infantry

James B. Pond and George F. Pond of the 3rd Wisconsin Cavalry

Future blog postings will provide the list of all 68 men with a description of their act of valor.


  1. We had four Medal of Honor winners held prisoner at Camp Ford in Texas, although the actions of two of them were actually at Vicksburg.

    (but I need to report to the Society that the abbreviation for Mississippi is actually MS, not MI!)

    Vicki Betts

  2. I see no mention of the six men aboard USS Signal who received the Medal for their actions when that boat was captured in Red River, but it sounds like that must have been the source of the most medals awarded for any one single action "totally" in the Trans-Mississippi. Ironic that the most medals west of the river would be awarded for actions during a complete and total Union defeat.

  3. Steve,
    I should have mentioned the six men who received Medals of Honor for their actions aboard the USS Signal. I will correct the list in my next posting--thanks for bringing it to my attention! Yes, it is indeed ironic...

  4. Vicki,
    Thanks for your information about the Medal of Honor winners who were held at Camp Ford. Camp Ford needs some attention in future postings.

  5. Always glad to discuss Camp Ford! I've done local programs on various pieces of that story--the interaction of prisoners with area civilians; R. T. P. Allen, the early commandant; the mass desertion of the guard in July, 1864; the Whitmore conspiracy to free the prisoners. I've been to Pineville to identify graves and we're still finding bits and pieces of the story popping up in all sorts of places, including my indexing work in

    Vicki Betts