CAPT. JAMES WEBB LONG’S NUMBERED CIVIL WAR ARMY CAMPAIGN MEDAL WITH ORIGINAL PRE-1913 RIBBON AND BAR: 2nd U.S. INFANTRY, THREE WOUNDS, TWO BREVETS!

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Item Code: 2024-357

This Civil War campaign medal is numbered on its rim and on the cover of its box. The ribbon bar is with it. The medal has a pleasing, undisturbed medium patina and the ribbon has good color, though showing some small stains and some fraying along the top edge. It is unusual in being the original red, white and blue ribbon and bar, colors that were changed to blue and gray in 1913. The medal is stamped on the edge “No 123.” The box is cardboard, in good condition, but with separations on the corners of the bottom, marked on the underside of the top, “Mint of the United States / Philadelphia, PA.” A paper label on the top reads “CIVIL WAR / 123,” matching the medal. The number checks out to James W. Long (1840-1909,) who served in the U.S. Army from 1861 to 1870, was wounded three times at Gaines Mill and received brevets for gallant and meritorious served at Gaines Mill and at the Wilderness.

This campaign medal was authorized in 1905 and established by General Orders from the War Department in January 1907 for Federal army service from April 15, 1861, to April 9, 1865, or duty in Texas through August 20, 1866 (the date of Pres. Andrew Johnson’s proclamation ending the war.) Fewer than 10,000 were issued. Designed by sculptor Francis Millet, the medal has a bust of Lincoln on the obverse with a quote from his second inaugural address, “WITH MALICE TOWARD NONE. WITH CHARITY FOR ALL.” The reverse reads “CIVIL WAR. 1861-1865” surrounded by a wreath. This medal has its original red, white and blue ribbon, and ribbon bar, colors changed to blue and gray in 1913 to match the US Navy Civil War campaign medal, which substituted the battle between the Monitor and Merrimac on the reverse, and had been established in 1908. These medals were numbered in three ways: a “No. XXXX;” “M.No. XXXX;” and simply “XXXX.” This one is numbered in the first fashion and the roll of this number series, available through the Orders and Medals Society of America, identifies the recipient as James W. Long, Captain, Retired.”

James Webb Long was born in 1840 in Hillsborough, North Carolina, the son of an army officer who died in 1846. He graduated Hillsborough College and moved to Buffalo, NY, in 1859 where he was editor of the “Commercial Advertiser.” At the outbreak of war he remained loyal to the Union, though he had at least one relative in the Confederate Army: Gen. W.M. Gardner, husband of an older sister, and was appointed to the U.S. Army from New York, becoming a 2nd Lieutenant of Co. B in the 2nd US Infantry Aug. 5, 1861, and immediately after, 1st Lieutenant on Aug. 10, 1861. and to Captain Feb. 9, 1863.

Long’s company was one of six in the regiment serving in the Army of the Potomac and they were heavily engaged a Gaines Mill on June 27, 1862, for which he was breveted Captain for “gallant and meritorious service,” and was wounded three times: receiving a pistol shot in the left wrist, a shell fragment in the left foot, and part of a .69 caliber round in the face, costing him an eye. He returned to duty and was promoted to the regular rank of Captain Feb. 9, 1863, and we find him in command of the regiment’s six companies both during the 1863 Bristoe Campaign and Grant’s 1864 Overland Campaign. In the latter campaign he received his second brevet, this time to Major, also for “gallant and meritorious service,” at Wilderness on May 5, 1864.

He remained in the army after the war and was unassigned April 17, 1869, but was acting as Indian Agent for tribes in Michigan by 1870. His last formal assignment was then made to the 25th Infantry Dec. 15, 1870, from which he was honorably discharged at his own request on Dec. 31, 1870, settling in Michigan with his family. He was postmaster in Isabella County from 1872 to 1874 and in 1880 is listed as an editor, living in Mt. Pleasant. We also find him as superintendent (sometimes listed as adjutant) of the Michigan State Soldiers Home in the mid 1880s.

Long had married in Kentucky in 1867. He and his wife had five children, only one of whom survived to adulthood. By 1900 he was living with his wife and daughter in Washington, DC, where he was a clerk in the War Department. The 1900 census for some reason lists him as “Signal Corps USA.” We find no connection to that organization, but he was later brought back into the army briefly, being made a Captain again on June 23, 1902, by a special act of Congress and retired June 30, 1902. This was an act of the First Session of the 57th Congress making him a Captain of infantry on the “unlimited retired list of the Army, in the class whose disabilities result from wounds received in battle,” certainly a reference to his wounds at Gaines Mill.

Long was fatally injured in an automobile accident in 1909, struck and run over by a car while crossing the street on the way to work. His eyesight had been failing and he was reportedly confused by the car honking at him, stepping back in its way, and his death was ruled accidental. It was an irony noted by newspapers that he hated cars, quoting him as saying just two days before, “If I had my way I would smash and burn every automobile in the District of Columbia.” He was interred at Arlington.  [sr] [ph:m]

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