Joseph H. De Castro
|Joseph H. De Castro|
November 14, 1844|
|Died||May 8, 1892
New York City, New York
|Place of burial||Fairmount Cemetery, Newark, New Jersey|
|Allegiance||United States of America
United States of America
|Service/branch||United States Army
|Unit||Company I, 19th Massachusetts Infantry|
|Battles/wars||American Civil War
*Battle of Gettysburg,
|Awards||Medal of Honor
Civil War Campaign Medal
Corporal Joseph H. De Castro (November 14, 1844 – May 8, 1892), was the first Hispanic-American to be awarded the United States' highest military decoration for valor in combat — the Medal of Honor — for having distinguished himself during Pickett's Charge in the Battle of Gettysburg of the American Civil War.
De Castro was born in Boston, Massachusetts. Upon the outbreak of the Civil War, he was among the men who joined the all volunteer 19th Massachusetts Infantry.
Civil War service
De Castro was the Massachusetts State flag bearer of Company I, 19th Massachusetts Infantry, an all volunteer unit. The unit participated in the Battle of Gettysburg at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania as part of the III Corps 3rd Brigade, U.S. Army under the command of Colonel Norman J. Hall.
On July 3, 1863, the third and last day of the battle, his unit participated in what became known as Pickett's Charge. Pickett's Charge was a disastrous infantry assault ordered by Confederate General Robert E. Lee against Major General George G. Meade's Union positions on Cemetery Ridge.
During the battle, De Castro attacked a confederate flag bearer from the 19th Virginia Infantry regiment, with the staff of his own colors and seized the opposing regiment's flag, handing the prize over to General Alexander S. Webb. General Webb is quoted as saying, "At the instant a man broke through my lines and thrust a rebel battle flag into my hands. He never said a word and darted back. It was Corporal Joseph H. De Castro, one of my color bearers. He had knocked down a color bearer in the enemy's line with the staff of the Massachusetts State colors, seized the falling flag and dashed it to me". On December 1, 1864, De Castro was one of seven men from the 19th Massachusetts Infantry to be awarded the Medal of Honor.
Medal of Honor citation
Post Civil War
After the war De Castro entered the regular army and served for a few years. De Castro married Rosalia Rodriguez and in 1882 moved to New York City. There he was an active member of the Phil Kearny Post, number 8 GAR. He was employed by the NY Barge Office when on May 8, 1892, he died in his home at 244 West 22nd Street. His funeral was held at the 18th Street Methodist Church and he was buried at Fairmount Cemetery (Section 2, Lot 300, Grave 2) in Newark, New Jersey.
Awards and decorations
Joseph H. De Castro's awards and decorations include the following:
- List of American Civil War Medal of Honor recipients: A–F
- List of Hispanic Medal of Honor recipients
- Hispanics in the American Civil War
- The Magazine of American History, page 18.
- "New York Times"; May 10, 1892; Obituary; page 5
- "Civil War (A-L); De Castro, Joseph H. entry". Medal of Honor recipients. United States Army Center of Military History. August 6, 2009. Retrieved July 13, 2010.
- The Magazine of American History with Notes and Queries, Martha J. Lamb (editor), volume XVIII, July–December 1887. Retrieved on July 20, 2006. Retrieved September 29, 2010.
- "Hispanic-Americans in the Army. Retrieved on July 20, 2006.". Retrieved September 29, 2010.[dead link]
- Right Before Our Eyes: Latinos Past, Present & Future, Robert Montemayor, Henry (COL) Mendoza.
- Gettysburg: A Testing of Courage, Noah Andre Trudeau.
- Pickett's Charge — The Last Attack at Gettysburg, Earl J Hess.
- "Gettysburg's Medal of Honor recipients. Retrieved on July 20, 2006". Retrieved September 29, 2010.
- "Units of the ARMY at the Battle of Gettysburg. Retrieved on July 20, 2006". Retrieved September 29, 2010.