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Sergeant William H. Carney becomes the first African-American to win the Congressional Medal of Honor

William Harvey Carney, seated, circa 1900
07/18/1863
During the second attack on Fort Wagner, South Carolina, as the assualt faltered under heavy Confederate fire, Sergeant William Carney of Company B, 54th Massachusetts took charge of the national flag after its color bearer was hit.  Carney, although wounded three times himself, planted the flag on the enemy parapet, and, when the attack finally failed, delivered the flag safely to the Union lines, famously telling his comrades, "Boys, the old flag never touched the ground."  Carney received his medal at a ceremony on May 23, 1900. (By John Osborne)
Source Citation: 
Jonathan Sutherland, African Americans at War: An Encyclopedia, Two Volumes ( Santa Barbara, CA.: ABC-CLIO, 2004) I: 95-96.
Russell Duncan, Where Death and Glory Meet: Colonel Robert Gould Shaw and the Fifty-Fourth Massacusetts Infantry (Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 1999), 112-116.