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Petersburg Medals of Honor: “They Can’t Drive You Out of Here”




Captain. Co. A, 208th Pa. Inf.
Highest rank attained:
Brevet Lieut. -Col. U. S. Vols.
Born at Berrysburg, Pa., July 25, 1839.

Early in the day on April 2, 1865, General Hartranft’s Division captured a number of forts around Petersburg. In the afternoon the general detailed Captain Thomas W. Hoffman, of Company A, Two hundred and eighth Pennsylvania Infantry, who was attached to his staff as engineer, to ascertain the possibility of holding the advanced position. When he arrived at the front line he heard the order to fall back given and saw some of the officers run to the rear in undue haste. The men, too, were on the point of retreating; some of them, in fact, had already turned to the rear. The idea seemed to prevail that the Confederates, who were howling, shouting and fighting in front like demons, were flanking the advance guard. Captain Hoffman’s timely arrival on the scene prevented a rout. He quickly drew his sword and yelled at the top of his voice: “Don’t a man of you run! They can’t drive you out of here! ”

This had a reassuring effect. The men regained their confidence as soon as they saw that somebody was in command, the officers returned to their posts and the lines were re-established and presented such a solid front that the rebels did not even dare to make a serious attack, but were satisfied after several unfruitful attempts to leave the Federals masters of the field. Captain Hoffman was also brevetted lieutenant-colonel for this act.


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


  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. 513-514
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