Editor’s note: This is part two of a two-part series on the five Delaware County Medal of Honor recipients. Two of the recipients were featured in last week’s column.
Third recipient – John Reed Porter (Nov. 14, 1838 – Oct. 15, 1923) was a recipient of the Medal of Honor, a military award presented by the United States Department of War to 18 Union Army soldiers who participated in the Great Locomotive Chase in 1862 during the American Civil War (1861-1865). He joined Union Army in 1861 and participated in the battles of Chickamauga, Stones River, Bentonville, and the campaigns of Chattanooga and Atlanta. At the end of the war he was a first lieutenant.
Porter was a native of Delaware County, Ohio. He joined the United States Army in 1861 as a private in Company G, 21st Ohio Infantry. In April 1862, he was to take part in a daring raid with 21 others (later known as “Andrews’ Raiders” because they operated under the command of James J. Andrews). He overslept and missed out on the raid but was captured and imprisoned along with his fellow raiders within two weeks. Porter and 14 others managed to escape, but only six of them reached friendly lines. Porter was one of the six who managed to reach Union-held territory. He served with the Union Army for the remainder of the war and was commissioned as a second lieutenant. By the war’s end, he was promoted to first lieutenant. Following the war, he returned to Ohio and was the last raider to die in 1923. He’s buried in the McComb Union Cemetery in McComb, Ohio.
Porter’s Medal of Honor citation reads: “The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pleasure in presenting the Medal of Honor to Private John Reed Porter, United States Army, for extraordinary heroism on April, 1862, while serving with Company G, 21st Ohio Infantry, in action during the Andrew’s Raid in Georgia. Private Porter was one of the 19 of 22 men (including two civilians) who, by direction of General Mitchell (or Buell), penetrated nearly 200 miles south into enemy territory and captured a railroad train at Big Shanty, Georgia, in an attempt to destroy the bridges and track between Chattanooga and Atlanta.”
The Great Locomotive Chase was a military raid that occurred April 12, 1862, in northern Georgia during the American Civil War. Volunteers from the Union Army, led by civilian scout James J. Andrews, commandeered a train, The General, and took it northward toward Chattanooga, Tennessee, doing as much damage as possible to the vital Western and Atlantic Railroad line from Atlanta to Chattanooga as they went. They were pursued by Confederate forces at first on foot, and later on a succession of locomotives, including The Texas, for 87 miles.
Because the Union men had cut the telegraph wires, the Confederates could not send warnings ahead to forces along the railway. Confederates eventually captured the raiders and quickly executed some as spies, including Andrews; some others were able to flee. Some of the raiders were the first to be awarded the Medal of Honor by the US Congress for their actions. As a civilian, Andrews was not eligible.
Fourth recipient – Lewis Morgan was born in 1836 in Delaware County, Ohio. He died Oct. 27, 1864, in Petersburg, Virginia. He is buried in Poplar Grove National Cemetery in Petersburg, Virginia, and he’s a Civil War Congressional Medal of Honor recipient.
Morgan served as a sergeant in Company I, 4th Ohio Infantry, Union Army. In actions with the Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee’s forces at Spotsylvania Courthouse, Virginia, on May 12, 1864, Sgt. Morgan captured the flag from the enemy’s works. He was later killed at the Battle of Hatcher’s Run, during the Siege of Petersburg, Virginia, and posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor on Dec. 1, 1864.
Morgan’s Medal of Honor citation reads: “The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pride in presenting the Medal of Honor (Posthumously) to Private Lewis Morgan, United States Army, for extraordinary heroism on 12 May 1864, while serving with Company I, 4th Ohio Infantry, in action at Spotsylvania, Virginia, for capture of flag from the enemy’s works.”
The inconclusive Battle of Spotsylvania Court House was the second major engagement in Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant’s Overland Campaign, a major Union offensive to chase down Robert E. Lee, destroy his forces, and defeat the Confederacy.
The battle took place over 12 days and cost 18,000 Union and 12,000 Confederate casualties. Union troops tried repeatedly but failed to break the Confederate line. Grant ultimately disengaged from the fight and ordered his men to continue their march south.
Spotsylvania Court House was the second engagement of the Overland Campaign, a series of battles fought in Virginia during May and June 1864. Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, general-in-chief of all Union armies, directed the Army of the Potomac, commanded by Maj. Gen. George Meade, against Confederate general Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia. Grant’s objectives were to pursue Lee, cripple his army, and capture the Confederate capital of Richmond. Success relied on a relentless pursuit of the enemy, so Grant instructed Meade, “Wherever Lee goes, there you will go also.”
Although the Union suffered severe losses during the campaign, it was a strategic victory for Grant. The battles inflicted proportionately higher casualties on Lee’s army, driving his forces into a siege at Petersburg and eventually leading him to surrender his forces at Appomattox in April 1865.
Fifth recipient – George Gates, was born in Delaware County on July 30, 1844. He died on March 18, 1915 in Riverside Township, Adams County, Illinois. He is buried at Sunset Cemetery in Quincy, Illinois. Date of issue for Medal of Honor was March 3, 1870.
Gates’ Medal of Honor citation reads: “The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pleasure in presenting the Medal of Honor to Bugler George Gates, United States Army, for extraordinary heroism on 4 June 1869, while serving with 8th U.S. Cavalry, in action at Picacho Mountain, Arizona Territory. Bugler Gates killed an Indian warrior and captured his arms.”
Indian Campaigns – Period: Jan. 1, 1865 – Dec. 30, 1891. The following campaigns were known as the Indian Campaigns: Southern Oregon, Idaho, Northern California, and Nevada between 1865 and 1868; against the Comanches and confederate tribes in Kansas, Colorado, Texas, New Mexico, and Indian Territory between 1867 and 1875; the Modoc War from 1872 to 1873; against the Apaches in Arizona in 1873; against Northern Cheyenne and Sioux from 1876 to 1877; the Nez Perce War in 1877; the Bannock War in 1878; against the Northern Cheyenne from 1878 to 1879; against the Sheep-Eaters, Paiutes and Bannocks from June to October 1879; against the Utes in Colorado and Utah from September 1879 to November 1880; against the Apaches in Arizona and New Mexico from 1885 to 1886; against the Sioux in South Dakota from November 1890 to January 1891; and against native Americans in any other action in which United States troops were killed or wounded from 1865 to 1891.
Harold B. Wolford is president of the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 1095. He served in the United States Army from 1970 to 1973.