This Day in Black History: July 18, 1863

William Carney rescued the Union Flag on July 18, 1863, and later became the first African-American to receive the Medal of Honor.

(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.


BET National News - Keep up to date with breaking news stories from around the nation, including headlines from the hip hop and entertainment world. Click here to subscribe to our newsletter.  

Latest News

Subscribe for BET Updates

Provide your email address to receive our newsletter.

Select the types of notification you would like to receive from us. Please note, you must choose at least one.

By clicking subscribe, I consent to receiving newsletters and other marketing emails. Newsletters are subject to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. Users can unsubscribe at any time.