Last Friday the FBI returned two stolen Civil War Medals of Honor to the Medal of Honor museum here at Patriots Point. Since there is still an ongoing investigation into the medals stolen from the museum in 2004, no details were released on the recovery of these medals. Mount Pleasant resident and Vietnam Medal of Honor recipient, Major General James Livingston, USMC (Retired), accepted the medals from the FBI agents on behalf of the Congressional Medal of Honor Society.
The medal of George Emmons is unique in that it is a rescinded medal. He was born in 1813 in Lyman, Maine. He enlisted as a private on September 30, 1862, with his namesake son in Co. I, 27th Maine Infantry for a term of 9 months. He also later enlisted with the 32nd Maine Infantry alongside another son, Alonzo, in 1864. Emmons was taken prisoner at the Battle of the Crater at Petersburg, VA, on July 30, 1864, and is believed to have spent the rest of the conflict as a prisoner of war.
Emmons and his son George received the Medal of Honor for their service with the 27th Maine. Their terms of service would have expired on June 30, 1863, but on June 28th, word went out that Lee had invaded Pennsylvania and the Union needed more men to shore up the defenses of Washington, D.C. Over 300 men of the 27th Maine agreed to stay behind to help protect the city. By July 4th, their services were no longer needed and the regiment was sent home to be discharged.
Secretary of War Stanton declared that Medals of Honor would be given to those who had stayed behind in Washington’s hour of need. Unfortunately, there was no accurate list kept of who remained past their term of service; due to this confusion, nearly everyone in the regiment eventually received a medal.
This error contributed to Emmons’ Medal of Honor and that of his son being struck from the official Medal of Honor list in January 1917, alongside all of the other 864 27th Maine recipients.
The medal of Thomas Jenkins was awarded and he served in the Navy as noted by the anchor clasp on his medal above. Here is his citation:
Rank and organization: Seaman, U.S. Navy. Biography not available. G.O. No.: 17, 10 July 1863. Citation: Served on board the U.S.S. Cincinnati during the attack on the Vicksburg batteries and at the time of her sinking, 27 May 1863. Engaging the enemy in a fierce battle, the Cincinnati, amidst an incessant fire of shot and shell, continued to fire her guns to the last, though so penetrated by shell fire that her fate was sealed. Serving bravely during this action, Jenkins was conspicuously cool under the fire of the enemy, never ceasing to fight until this proud ship went down, “her colors nailed to the mast.”