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Autograph, Marcus A. Hanna

 
Autograph, Marcus A. Hanna (Image1)
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Item Number: Auto4968
 

 



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Medal of Honor Recipient for gallantry at Port Hudson, Louisiana

Earned the Gold Lifesaving Medal of Honor for saving drowning sailors

He is the only person in American history to have received both the Medal of Honor and the Gold Lifesaving Medal


(1842-1921) Born in Bristol, Maine, Marcus A. Hanna, was living in Rockport, Massachusetts, when the Civil War broke out. He enlisted as a landsman, at Boston, on May 9, 1861, and was mustered into the U.S. Navy. He was discharged on June 20, 1862 having served on the U.S.S. Ohio, the U.S.S. Mississippi and the U.S.S. Niagara respectively. He then decided to join the Union army and enlisted on September 15, 1862, and was mustered into Co. B, 50th Massachusetts Infantry. During the regiment's service at Port Hudson, Louisiana, Sergeant Hanna, was awarded the Medal of Honor for gallantry when he exposed himself to a heavy Rebel fire in order to get water for his comrades who were pinned down in their rifle pits. He was mustered out of the 50th Massachusetts Infantry on August 24, 1863, and was then mustered into Co. K, 2nd Massachusetts Heavy Artillery. He served in this unit until his discharge at Wilmington, N.C., on September 3, 1865. In 1869, Hanna was appointed keeper of Pemaquid Point Light in his hometown of Bristol, Maine. In 1873, he was transferred to Two Lights in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, where he served as head light keeper. He was awarded the Congressional Gold Life Saving Medal in 1885 for single handedly rescuing sailors of a wrecked schooner while serving at Two Lights, Cape Elizabeth, Maine. According to the Official Coast Guard records Hanna braved a blizzard and freezing temperatures and risked his own life to save the doomed men. He successfully got the sailors off the ship and brought them to the nearby signal house where they were able to be warmed to save them from exposure and frostbite.


Marcus A. Hanna
Port Hudson, Louisiana
July 4, 1863

BRAVE AND RESOURCEFUL

"VOLUNTARILY exposed himself to a heavy fire to get water for comrades in rifle pits." This is the inscription on the Medal of Honor, the proud bearer of which is Marcus A. Hanna, sergeant of Company B, Fiftieth Massachusetts Infantry.

The incident occurred at Port Hudson, on July 4, 1863, and serves not only to illustrate the hero's feeling for his suffering comrades, but his courage and resourcefulness as well. Sergeant Hanna gives a detailed description of the occurrence, as follows:

"While our forces were closely investing Port Hudson, four days before its surrender, the Fiftieth Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry was ordered into the rifle-pits to support a New York battery. It was early in the morning, and we had just been relieved from similar duty, performed during the night. The men went back to the pits without having time to replenish their haversacks or canteens. The day was intensely hot and by noon the men were suffering from thirst. How to get water was a problem, with the enemy on the alert and posted on works but a short distance from and considerably higher than our position.

"At about 2 or 3 o'clock P.M. the thirst of our men had become almost unbearable and Lieutenant William H. Hurd, in command of our company, gave some of us permission to go to the rear for water. Orderly Sergeant Blatchford and myself were the only sergeants present that day. I at once volunteered to go, and asked for a file of men to assist me. No one responded. I decided to try it alone. I took twelve or fifteen canteens-all I could conveniently carry-hung them about my neck, and placed them about my body to afford protection from rebel bullets. A dummy, made by rigging up a musket with a blouse and cap, was prepared, the idea being to raise it above our pit and, if possible, draw the fire of the enemy, and then, before they had time to reload, I was to take my chances. Carefully we raised the dummy until the cap only could be seen, then we ducked it out of sight, to
hoist it again at once, this time showing the head and body.

"The deception was a success, for at once there came a heavy volley, and before the smoke had cleared away, I was up and off as rapidly as my light but bulky load would permit. I steered across the level plains for the nearest cover some 600 yards away, but I had not gone far, before I could hear the patter of bullets all around me, and knew that I was within sight and range. Yet, I kept on my course, until about half the distance was covered when I realized that I could not escape being hit, and bethought myself of the ruse of throwing myself prostrate, as if killed or badly wounded. The trick was successful. The firing ceased, and, after lying prone until I was well rested, I sprang to my feet and ran like a deer for the blackberry hedge. In this second race, no further shots were sent after me by the enemy."

"I went about half a mile further to a spring, filled my load of canteens, not one of which, in spite of the firing, had been punctured, and began cautiously to work my way back to my company in the rifle-pits. Instead of making a bee-line for the pit, I made a detour to the left, in order to bring one of our batteries between myself and the enemy. After I had reached the battery I had still some sixty or seventy yards to go to the right, wholly exposed to the enemy's fire. However, I covered this distance
unmolested. Lieutenant Hurd and the men warmly congratulated me, and expressed gratitude for the partial relief I had brought them."

Source: "Deeds of Valor"

Autograph Document Signed: 6 x 8 3/4, in ink.

"Served in U.S. Navy from May 5th 1861 to June 20, 1862 [on] Frigates, Ohio, Mississippi and Niagara, rate landsman.

Served in Army, 50th Mass. Vols. from Aug. 15, 1862 to Aug. 24, 1863. Rank private, corporal, sergeant. Reenlisted as veteran Sept. 1st, 1863 as 1st Sergeant, Co. K, 2d Mass. H.[eavy] Arty. Mustered out as 2d Lieut. October 1st, 1865.

After the war he served for a period of 20 years in Light House service.

Awarded Congressional gold Medal of Honor for rescuing single handed crew of wrecked schooner Australia, Jan. 5th, 1885, Cape Elizabeth Lt. Station.

Awarded Army Medal of Honor for conspicuous gallantry before Port Hudson, July 4th, 1863.

For details of Life Saving Medal see Life Saving Report 1885, page 42.

For Army Medal, see (Circular) by War Dept. Medals of Honor published by direction of Secretary of War.

Marcus A. Hanna

I never saw President Lincoln."

Light age toning and wear. Very fine. Extremely desirable A.D.S. from this Civil War Medal of Honor recipient, who was also awarded the Gold Life Saving Medal, the only person in American history to receive both of these heroic awards!! Rare to find in this particular format detailing his military career and awards.



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