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Medal of Honor Story

This is the story of how Charles Pinkham won the Medal of Honor. (Source is Deeds of Valor published in 1903.)  After reading this story we will proceed to information about his regiment.

Fort Stedman, VA
     THE fighting at Fort Stedman brought out many examples of 
great individual bravery and furnished numerous incidents which 
prove the pluck and indomitable courage of the Union soldier, no 
matter whether he was in a victorious battle or facing defeat.  
At Fort Stedman particularly, where the Federals were treated to 
a surprise by the enemy, their conduct was such as to force even 
the foe to admire it.
     It is recorded, for instance, that one private of the 
Twenty-ninth Massachusetts Infantry was surrounded by a group of 
rebels, seized by the throat and ordered to surrender.  His reply 
was: "Never."  Whereupon he was clubbed over the back with a 
musket and shot in the head, but in spite of his injuries fought 
with his opponent, and escaped.
     Other brave deeds were those of Sergeant-Major Charles H. 
Pinkham, of the Fifty seventh Massachusetts Infantry, and 
Sergeant William H. Howe, of Company K, Twenty-ninth 
Massachusetts Infantry.  Howe's regiment was in camp within the 
works when the Confederates entered and surprised them.  No shots 
were fired, the Confederates using only the butts of their 
muskets.  The regiment was forced to retreat, leaving a great 
number of its men in the hands of the victorious rebels.  When 
the Federals were already driven out of their works and the 
rebels in full possession of the camp Sergeant-Major Pinkham 
rushed back into the very midst of the enemy, entered a tent, 
seized the regimental colors, and dashed back with his precious 
treasure to his own lines.  During the subsequent fighting for 
the recapture of the camp, which ended in an utter rout of the 
rebels, Sergeant-Major Pinkham had a chance to seize the colors 
of the Fifty-seventh North Carolina Infantry and carried them 
triumphantly into the Union lines.
     Sergeant Howe was one of the Union soldiers who was captured 
when the rebels took possession of the fort.  He managed to 
escape his guard, however, and rejoined his comrades in front of 
Fort Haskell.  When volunteers were called for to serve an 
abandoned gun, he with five others undertook to perform the work.  
They were exposed to a most galling fire, but he worked the gun 
with such telling effect after all but two of the battery men 
belonging to the piece were killed that the Confederates were 
forced to retreat before its withering fire, allowing the 
Federals to come up to the support of the brave volunteer gunner.