This Day in Black History: July 18, 1863

Sgt. William Carney was wounded twice while rescuing the Union flag.

Posted: 07/18/2013 12:00 AM EDT

(Photo: Library of Congress)

Sgt. William Harvey Carney’s bravery during the American Civil War’s Battle of Fort Wagner in South Carolina on July 18, 1863, was recognized with the Medal of Honor.

While serving as a member of the 54th Massachusetts Colored Infantry during the Battle of Fort Wagner, Carney was wounded twice while rescuing the Union Flag. Then after making it through the fray, he shouted, “The Old Flag never touched the ground.”

On May 23, 1900, he became the first African-American recipient of the award, 37 years after the battle.

Carney was born a slave in Norfolk, Virginia, on Feb. 29, 1840, but he was able to escape through the Underground Railroad and reunite with his father living in Massachusetts

He died on December 8, 1908 in Boston.

 


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