CABINET CARD OF 1ST CHRONOLOGICAL MEDAL OF HONOR RECIPIENT GENERAL BERNARD JOHN DOWLING IRWIN - APACHE WARS, APRIL 13, 1861

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Item Code: P13858

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Dating from 1870s, this framed oval measures 5.75 x 4”; reverse back mark: “Warren/ Boston and Cambridgeport, Mass.” The post-Civil War image depicts Irwin in frontal bust pose, in full dress, wearing epaulettes and medals of the Society of Cinncinatus, the Society of the Army of the Cumberland, and the Military Order of the Loyal Legion. Although slightly yellowed and faded, the image remains crisp and clear. Overall VG plus.

Born in 1830, General Irwin became an assistant army surgeon in 1856, and served in capacity during the Apache war against Cochise just prior to the Civil War. When a group of soldiers led by Lieutenant George Bascom were captured, Surgeon Irwin led an expedition of 14 men to their rescue, surrounding Cochise and tricking him into believing that he was facing a much larger detachment. The Apaches fled and Bascom and his men were saved—Feb. 13, 1861. His detachment joined Irwin and together they were able to track Cochise into the mountains and rescue a young boy that Cochise had captured previously. Irwin’s actions were remembered, and although the medal of honor was not established until 1862, he was awarded medal of honor for them on January 21, 1894. In terms of chronology of action—Feb. 13, 1861 , Irwin stands first among Medal of Honor recipients. He saw considerable service during the Civil War as a senior medical officer, receiving eventual promotion to Colonel, and promotion to Brigadier upon his retirement in 1904. General Irwin’s son and grandson would attend West Point and receive promotion to Major General and Lieutenant General respectively, while serving in WWI and WWII. He himself died in 1917.

A unique and special image for Medal of Honor aficionados. In protective sleeve, accompanied by brief amount of internet research material.  [jp]

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