PVT. JOHN W. MOSTOLLER
Company B, 54th Pennsylvania Infantry
18 June 1864.
Union Troops marched on the Confederate town of Lynchburg in early June, 1964. Although the campaign was a complete failure costing approx. 900 American lives, one Soldier’s presence of mind, Valor and command ability stands out.
Pvt. John W. Mostoller was just 21 what he participated in the assault on Lynchburg.
Lynchburg was an important Confederate rail junction and had a large hospital facility. In response to the attack, General Jubal Early marched his II Corps from Charlottesville thwarting the Union attack.
The entire command component of Pvt. Mostoller’s unit was either killed or incapacitated In the initial assault leaving Mostoller and his fellow soldiers leaderless.
One of the unique things about the US military is that we teach our soldiers to be ready to take command. If the Platoon leader is killed the Platoon Sgt takes over if Platoon Sgt is killed a Squad leader takes over and so on all the way down to the lowest Private.
Mostoller, a Private – the lowest of enlisted ranks, assumed the duties of a comissioned officer. He took command of his unit and led the attack forcing a union battery to withdraw allowing other union troops to withdraw to safety.
Mostoller died in 1927, his valor to be forgotten until his great-great-grandson found his Medal of Honor in storage. It is now on display at the Somerset PA County Courthouse
MOSTOLLER, JOHN W.
Rank and organization: Private, Company B, 54th Pennsylvania Infantry. Place and date: At Lynchburg, Va., 18 June 1864. Entered service at: ——. Birth: Somerset County, Pa. Date of issue: 27 December 1894. Citation: Voluntarily led a charge on a Confederate battery (the officers of the company being disabled) and compelled its hasty removal.