Bruce Anderson (Medal of Honor)
June 19, 1845|
Mexico City[n 1]
|Died||August 22, 1922
Albany, New York
|Place of burial||Green Hill Cemetery
Amsterdam, New York
|Allegiance|| United States of America
|Service/branch|| United States Army
|Years of service||1864 - 1865|
|Unit||142nd New York Infantry|
|Battles/wars||American Civil War
Second Battle of Fort Fisher
|Awards||Medal of Honor|
Bruce Anderson (June 19, 1845 – August 22, 1922) was an African American Union Army soldier in the American Civil War and a recipient of America's highest military decoration, the Medal of Honor, for his actions during the Second Battle of Fort Fisher.
After working as a farmer in New York Anderson joined the military to fight in the Civil War and volunteered with a group of other soldiers to eliminate a palisade that was blocking the advance of his unit. After completing the mission and destroying the palasade, Anderson and twelve others were recommended for the Medal of Honor but the paperwork was lost. Anderson hired an attorney to get the Medal and he and two other soldiers received it in 1914.
Anderson was born June 19, 1845 in Mexico City but by the beginning of the Civil War was working as a farmer in New York.[n 1] He enlisted for service in the military from Schenectady[n 2] on August 31, 1864 as a private into Company K of the 142nd New York Infantry. Anderson has the unusual, but not unique, distinction of being an African American soldier who served in a white Civil War regiment.
On January 15, 1865, Anderson participated in the Union's second attack on Fort Fisher in North Carolina. He and twelve other men answered a call for volunteers to advance ahead of the main attack and cut down the palisade which blocked their path. Despite intense fire from the Confederate defenders, Anderson and the others were successful in destroying the obstacle. General Adelbert Ames recommended all thirteen men for the Medal of Honor, but his report was misplaced and the medals not issued.
Forty-nine years after the end of the war, in 1914, Anderson hired a lawyer in an effort to receive the Medal of Honor. One of the other soldiers in the palisade-cutting group, Private Zachariah C. Neahr, had successfully petitioned for the award decades earlier. At Anderson's prompting, the Adjutant General of the Army launched an investigation which uncovered General Ames' letter of recommendation and sought out the other men of the group. Three men, Alaric B. Chapin, George Merrill, and Dewitt C. Hotchkiss, were found to be still alive and were, along with Anderson, again recommended for the medal. Anderson, Merrill, and Chapin were each issued the Medal of Honor on December 28, 1914; Hotchkiss' recommendation was overlooked a second time, and he was never decorated.
Anderson lived for a time in Illinois, but eventually returned to New York and settled there in the city of Amsterdam. He died August 22, 1922 at age 77 in St. Peter's Hospital in Albany, New York, and was buried at Green Hill Cemetery in Amsterdam.
Medal of Honor citation
The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pleasure in presenting the Medal of Honor to Private Bruce Anderson, United States Army, for extraordinary heroism on 15 January 1865, while serving with Company K, 142d New York Infantry, in action at Fort Fisher, North Carolina. Private Anderson voluntarily advanced with the head of the column and cut down the palisading.
General Orders: Date of Issue: December 28, 1914
Action Date: January 15, 1865
Company: Company K
Regiment: 142nd New York Infantry
- List of Medal of Honor recipients
- List of American Civil War Medal of Honor recipients: A–F
- List of Medal of Honor recipients for the Second Battle of Fort Fisher
- List of African-American Medal of Honor recipients
- This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the United States Army Center of Military History.
- Hanna, Charles W. (2002). African American recipients of the Medal of Honor: a biographical dictionary, Civil War through Vietnam War. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers. p. 14. ISBN 0-7864-1355-7.
- Moss, Juanita Patience (2008). The Forgotten Black Soldiers in White Regiments During The Civil War. Westminster, Maryland: Heritage Books. ISBN 0-7884-4647-9.