Thanks of Congress

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The Thanks of Congress is a series of formal resolutions passed by the United States Congress originally to extend the government's formal thanks for significant victories or impressive actions by American military commanders and their troops. Although it began during the American Revolutionary War, the practice peaked during the American Civil War. Similarly, the Confederate Congress also passed resolutions honoring extraordinary performance to individuals or military units.[1]

Early years[edit]

During the American Revolution, the official Thanks of Congress from the Continental Congress was often accompanied by a specially struck commemorative gold or silver medal. Among the recipients were George Washington, Horatio Gates, John Eager Howard, John Stark, Baron von Steuben, and Henry Lee (See also List of Congressional Gold Medal recipients).[1]

Other recipients in the early years of the United States include all participants in the Battle of Tippecanoe (1811), Alexander Macomb (War of 1812) (1814), Oliver Hazard Perry (War of 1812) (1814), Charles Gratiot in the same war, and Andrew Jackson (epilogue to the War of 1812) (1815), William Henry Harrison (1818) and Zachary Taylor (1847).[2][3]

American Civil War[edit]

During the American Civil War, the Thanks of Congress were joint resolutions of Congress which were published in the Statutes at Large to honor officers from late 1861 through May 1866 for significant victories or impressive actions.[4] A total of thirty officers were named in these acts during the war, fifteen in the Union Army and fifteen in the Union Navy.[1] Two naval officers were immediately promoted after receiving the award, John L. Worden of the USS Monitor[5] and William B. Cushing.[6] Because the Thanks of Congress was only awarded to officers, the Medal of Honor was created at this time to honor soldiers in the Army, and over 1500 men received the medal by the end of the war.[1][7] Only one officer, General Ulysses S. Grant, received both the Thanks of Congress and a Congressional Gold Medal during the Civil War.[7]

The first citation during the American Civil War recognized "the gallant and patriotic services of the late Brig. Gen. Nathaniel Lyon, and the officers and soldiers under his command at the Battle of Wilson's Creek, 10 Aug. 1861."[8] Admiral David Dixon Porter was honored the most, on four separate occasions.

Others[edit]

Later honorees included Admiral George Dewey (1898) and Captain Arthur Rostron (1914).[7]

Civil War recipients[edit]

Recipient Date of approval Military action
Nathaniel Lyon and officers and men under his command December 24, 1861 Wilson's Creek, 1861[8]
Samuel F. Dupont, and officers, petty-officers, seamen, and marines under his command February 22, 1862 Port Royal, 1861[9]
Officers, soldiers, and seamen of the army and navy February 22, 1862 General award[10]
Andrew H. Foote, and to the officers and men under his command in the Western Flotilla March 19, 1862 Fort Henry and Fort Donelson, 1862[11]
David G. Farragut and officers and men under his command July 11, 1862 Forts Jackson & St. Philip, 1862[12]
Louis M. Goldsborough and officers, petty officers, seamen, and marines under his command July 11, 1862 Roanoake Island, 1862[13]
John L. Worden and crew of the USS Monitor July 11, 1862 Hampton Roads, 1862[14]
Andrew H. Foote July 19, 1862 Island No. Ten, 1862[15]
John L. Worden February 3, 1863 Hampton Roads, 1862[5]
Charles H. Davis February 7, 1863 Memphis, 1862[5]
John A. Dahlgren February 7, 1863 None[5][16]
Stephen C. Rowan February 7, 1863 Battle of New Bern[5]
David D. Porter February 7, 1863 Arkansas Post, 1863[5]
Silas H. Stringham February 7, 1863 Forts Hatteras and Clark, 1861[5]
William S. Rosecrans, and the officers and men under his command March 3, 1863 Stones River, 1862–1863[17]
Ulysses S. Grant, and officers and men under his command December 17, 1863 "The Rebellion"[7][18]
John Rodgers December 23, 1863 Battle of Wassaw Sound[19]
Nathaniel P. Banks and officers and men under his command January 28, 1864 Port Hudson, 1863[20]
Ambrose E. Burnside January 28, 1864 Knoxville, 1863[21]
Joseph Hooker, Oliver O. Howard, George G. Meade, and the Army of the Potomac January 28, 1864 Gettysburg Campaign, 1863[22]
Cornelius Vanderbilt January 28, 1864 None[7][23][24]
William T. Sherman, and the officers and soldiers under his command February 19, 1864 Chattanooga, 1863[25]
Volunteer soldiers who have reenlisted March 3, 1864 None[26]
Cadwalader Ringgold and the officers and crew of the USS Sabine March 7, 1864 rescue of the USS Governor, 1861 and USS Vermont, 1862 [27]
David D. Porter April 19, 1864 Vicksburg, 1863[28]
Joseph Bailey June 4, 1864 Red River Campaign, 1864[29]
William B. Cushing and the officers and men who assisted him December 20, 1864 Sinking of the CSS Albemarle[6]
John A. Winslow and the officers and men under his command on board the USS Kearsarge December 20, 1864 Sinking the CSS Alabama, 1863[30]
William T. Sherman and officers and soldiers of his command January 19, 1865 Atlanta Campaign and March to the Sea, 1864[31]
David D. Porter, and officers, petty officers, seamen, and marines under his command January 24, 1865 Fort Fisher, 1865[32]
Alfred H. Terry, and the officers and men under his command January 24, 1865 Fort Fisher, 1865[33]
Philip H. Sheridan February 9, 1865 Cedar Creek, 1864[33]
George H. Thomas and army under his command March 3, 1865 Nashville, 1864[34]
David G. Farragut and the officers and men under his command February 10, 1866 Mobile Bay, 1864[35]
Winfield S. Hancock April 21, 1866 Gettysburg, 1863[36]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Heidler & Heidler 2002, p. 579
  2. ^ Jenkins 1858, p. 319
  3. ^ Brown 2006, p. 305
  4. ^ Technically, enlisted men also received the award since most recognized the men under the officer or on board the ship named in the act.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g 37 Pub. Res. 11; 12 Stat. 823
  6. ^ a b 38 Pub. Res. 4; 13 Stat. 565
  7. ^ a b c d e Stathis 2008 Also received Congressional Gold Medal
  8. ^ a b 37 Pub. Res. 1; 12 Stat. 611
  9. ^ 37 Pub. Res. 11; 12 Stat. 613
  10. ^ 37 Pub. Res. 12; 12 Stat. 613
  11. ^ 37 Pub. Res. 28; 12 Stat. 616
  12. ^ 37 Pub. Res. 41;12 Stat. 622
  13. ^ 37 Pub. Res. 39; 12 Stat. 621
  14. ^ 37 Pub. Res. 42;12 Stat. 622
  15. ^ 37 Pub. Res. 60; 12 Stat. 626
  16. ^ Award text reads, "Distinguished service in his profession, improvements in ordnance, and zealous and efficient labors in the ordnance branch of the service."
  17. ^ 37 Pub. Res. 29; 12 Stat. 827
  18. ^ 38 Pub. Res. 1; 13 Stat. 399
  19. ^ 38 Pub. Res. 2; 13 Stat. 399
  20. ^ 38 Pub. Res. 7; 13 Stat. 401
  21. ^ 38 Pub. Res. 8; 13 Stat. 401
  22. ^ 38 Pub. Res. 9; 13 Stat. 401
  23. ^ Gift of steamship
  24. ^ 38 Pub. Res. 10; 13 Stat. 401
  25. ^ 38 Pub. Res. 12; 13 Stat. 402
  26. ^ 38 Pub. Res. 16; 13 Stat. 403
  27. ^ 38 Pub. Res. 18; 13 Stat. 403
  28. ^ 38 Pub. Res. 22; 13 Stat. 404
  29. ^ 38 Pub. Res. 40; 13 Stat. 408
  30. ^ 38 Pub. Res. 3; 13 Stat. 565
  31. ^ 38 Pub. Res. 5; 13 Stat. 565
  32. ^ 38 Pub. Res. 8; 13 Stat. 566
  33. ^ a b 38 Pub. Res. 7; 13 Stat. 566
  34. ^ 38 Pub. Res. 28; 13 Stat. 571
  35. ^ 39 Pub. Res. 8; 14 Stat. 349
  36. ^ 39 Pub. Res. 27; 14 Stat. 354

References[edit]