Petersburg Medals of Honor: Engineer, Surgeon and Hero

   

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in Deeds of Valor, Volume 1

ENGINEER, SURGEON AND HERO1

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DoVV1Pg512No2WilliamRDBlackwood48thPA

WILLIAM R. D. BLACKWOOD, M. D.,
Surg., 48th Pennsylvania Inf.
Highest rank att’d: Brevet-Lieut.-Col.
Born at Hollywood, Ireland. May 12, 1838.

The siege of Petersburg was terminated by the action of April 2, 1865. Lee withdrew on the 3d, leaving Petersburg and Richmond in the possession of the Union generals. This scene is remarkable in the history of the Civil War for the terrible losses suffered by both armies. In this fierce assault of April 2d the number of Union killed and wounded was estimated at 3,361, the Confederate loss being somewhat less.

Among the many exhibitions of courage in the field and valuable services rendered by officers on this occasion were those of Dr. William R. D. Blackwood, of the Forty-eighth Pennsylvania. The doctor had served several times as aide-de-camp and as volunteer engineer officer. The inside work of the Petersburg Mine, the longest and most extensive on record, was largely engineered by this officer.

Early in the morning of the last assault Major Peckham, adjutant-general of the brigade, was wounded in the head during a heavy attack of the enemy. He lay for some time under the Confederate guns, the shells bursting all around him, until Dr. Blackwood rushed out at the risk of his life and conveyed him to shelter behind some low earthworks. Almost immediately this protection was destroyed by shells, which killed and wounded several who were near the spot. The doctor’s efforts to save Major Peckham failed, and he died within an hour.

Dr. Blackwood performed a similar service in the case of Colonel G[eorge]. W. Gowen of his regiment, who died as he was being carried from the field, and it was for his heroic efforts to save the body from destruction by the incessant shell-fire of the enemy that the doctor received the Medal of Honor.

DoVV1Pg513ThirdPetersburgApril21865

“AT THE RISK OF HIS LIFE CONVEYED HIM TO SHELTER.”

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Read about even more Medal of Honor winners at the Siege of Petersburg:

Source:

  1. Beyer, Walter F. and Keydel, Oscar F. Deeds of Valor: How America’s Heroes Won the Medal of Honor…, Volume 1 (The Perrien – Keydel  Company: 1901), pp. 512-513

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