WEST VIRGINIA HONORABLY DISCHARGED MEDAL: 1st WEST VIRGINIA CAVALRY

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Item Code: 2024-483

This is a very good example of the medal authorized in 1866 by the state of West Virginia for its honorably discharged veterans for service in the Civil War. The two-piece medal has its upper pinback bar with “HONORABLY DISCHARGED” on a lined scroll with a WV monogram on the underside, from which is suspended the medal showing Victory crowning a soldier with a wreath and the state seal at bottom flanked by the dates 1861 and 1865. The reverse reads “PRESENTED BY THE STATE OF WEST VIRGINIA” in a wreath. The ribbon is missing but the motifs are sharp and the medal has a pleasing bronze patina.

The recipient’s name and unit is stamped on the medal’s edge indicating it was issued to William J. Brown of Co. B 1st W.V. Cavalry. Brown was actually from Washington County, PA, enlisting at age 18 on 9/1/61 and mustered into Co. B as private 9/19/61 at Wheeling. He served his full three-year term, mustering out at its expiration 11/18/64.

The regiment was extremely active in the eastern theatre with Civil War Data listing more than 60 instances when it took casualties of some sort and the Union Army maintaining that, “up to the close of 1864 it had taken part in 75 battles, including Cross Keys, Port Republic, Cedar mountain, the second Bull Run, Chantilly, South mountain, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Brandy Station,

the cavalry fight at Stevensburg, Lynchburg, Carter's farm, Kernstown, Winchester, Fisher's hill, Rude's hill, Cedar creek and Gordonsville.” It is perhaps best known for its participation in Farnsworth’s Charge at Gettysburg and actions in the pursuit of Lee where they were detached to act under Custer at Monterey. The regiment lost 10 officers and 71 enlisted men killed or mortally wounded, plus scores of others wounded, which is rather high for a cavalry unit.

Brown’s pension index card indicates he may also have served in Battery D 1st US Artillery under an alias, “W.P. Chapman.” More certain information has him born 1/31/1842 in Washington County, PA, and after the war living in Ohio County, WV, where he married in 1869 and worked as a blacksmith. By 1900 the family are in Wooster, Wayne County, Ohio, and by 1910 in Knox County, Ohio. His pension index card, which mentions the alias and other service says he died at Royal Oak, MI, 1/6/1914, but he was interred back in Wooster, Ohio.  [sr] [ph:L]

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