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The Medal of Honor

US Military History Throughout the Years

Short bits of history you know and some you may not!

  • The Hornet Attacks: Thursday, March 23, 1815 – In the last engagement of American and British forces following the War of 1812, the USS Hornet captures the HMS Penguin. The USS Hornet was part of a small squadron seeking to attack and disrupt British shipping in the Indian Ocean and was separated from the main force while sailing for Tristan de Cunha, an archipelago located in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. Upon reaching the harbor there she sighted the HMS Penguin, a new vessel of around the same size and armament as the Hornet. As the two ships sighted the other, they moved to engage and a furious engagement started that lasted nearly 20 minutes. The two ships exchanged broadsides and quickly moved to within range to board one another when the Penguin finally suffered enough damage to make it unable to maneuver and surrendered. American gunnery during the duel proved more than a match for the British crew, with not a single cannon shot from the Penguin hitting the Hornet. The British would lose 14 men, including their Captain, while the Hornet would lose two men to musket fire when they closed within boarding range. The HMS Penguin would prove to damaged to salvage, as a result the American crew took what stores they could from the ship as well as the crew as prisoners. The battle happened more than month after the Treaty of Ghent which ended the War of 1812, but due to being at sea the two Navies did not know.
  • Last Engagement: Wednesday, March 25, 1953 – In her last engagement before deactivation a few years later, the USS Missouri engages targets at Kojo, North Korea during the Korean War. She would be deactivated in 1956 only to be reactivated in 1984 as part of the 600 ship Navy plan. Her final engagement, before final deactivation, would be during the Gulf War. Along with USS Wisconsin, she bombarded targets along the Iraq coast with their main 16-inch guns and missiles.
  • First Awarded: Wednesday, March 25, 1863 – The first Medals of Honor are awarded during the Civil War. The honorees were members of the Andrews Raid a mission where Union Soldiers stole a Confederate train in Atlanta and attempted to cause damage to the rail lines as the traveled north to Chattanooga. All members were caught by the Confederates with some escaping and some being executed. The last MOH to be awarded from this mission to the leader, Andrew Smith, a civilian. It took 137 years for him to be fully recognized because of his civilian status during the war.

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