PVT SAMUEL E. EDDY
Co D, 37th Mass. Infantry
Sailors Creek, VA
6 April 1865
The Majority of Civil War Medals of Honor were given for minor acts – several hundred were given as a reenlistment incentive, then later rescinded. The Medal evolved into the Honor it is today long after the days of Pvt. Samuel E. Eddy, but he is an exception to the rule.
Eddy earned his MOH the hard way.
The Battle at Sailor’s Creek, Virginia on April 6,1865 was costly for the Confederate Army. Roughly 25% of Lee’s Army was eliminated – including the capture of 6 Confederate Generals. Nine members of the 37th were killed. Pvt Eddy refused to die.
In the heat of the battle Pvt, Eddy saw an enemy soldier about to inflict a likely fatal wound on the Adjutant (the XO) of his unit. He left the comparative safety of his position and went forward of the line to engage the solder killing him.
He then engaged several other enemy soldiers killing some but was eventually run through the body with a bayonet and pinned to the ground.
From that position, pinned to the ground by a bayonet… The Private fought off and killed his attacker and continued to fire his musket engaging the enemy until they retreated.
Pvt Eddy survived and lived until March 7, 1909 passing at the age of 86.