Pvt. Orion Perseus Howe of the 55th Illinois Infantry was awarded the Medal of Honor for action at Vicksburg. He is still the youngest awardee of the medal at age 14 at the time.
The Medal of Honor was created early in the Civil War. Additional nominees were authorized in the 1890's for Civil War action when the 55th Illinois nominated Pvt. Howe who was a practicing dentist in Sutton at the time.
|Col Malmborg and Pvt. Orion P. Howe|
he September, 1864 issue of Atlantic Monthly magazine carried a poem by George Boker recognizing the heroism of Pvt. Orion P. Howe at the Battle of Vicksburg.
May 19, 1863
While Sherman stood beneath the hottest fire
That from the lines of Vicksburg gleam’d
And bomb-shells tumbled in their smoky gyre,
And grape shot hiss’d, and case shot scream’d
Back from the front there came,
Weeping and sorely lame,
The merest child, the youngest face,
Man ever saw in such a fearful place.
Stifling his tears, he limp’d his chief to meet;
But, when he paused and tottering stood,
Around the circle of his little feet
There spread a pool of bright, young blood.
Shocked at his doleful case,
Sherman cried, “Halt! Front face!
Who are you? Speak, my gallant boy!”
“A drummer, sir, - Fifty-fifth Illinois.”
“Are you hit?” “That’s nothing. Only send
Some cartridges. Our men are out,
And the foe press us.” “But, my little friend-“
“Don’t mind me! Did you hear that shout?
What if our men be driven?
Oh, for the love of Heaven,
Send to my colonel, general dear-“
“But you?”-“Oh, I shall easily find the rear.”
“I’ll see to that,” cried Sherman; and a drop,
Angels might envy, dimm’d his eye,
As the boy, toiling towards the hill’s hard top,
Turn’d around, and, with his shrill child’s cry
Shouted, “Oh, don’t forget!
We’ll win the battle yet!
But let our soldiers have some more,
More cartridges, sir, caliber fifty-four!”