Joseph H. De Castro

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Joseph H. De Castro
ArmyMoH 1862-95X.jpg
Born (1844-11-14)November 14, 1844
Boston, Massachusetts
Died May 8, 1892(1892-05-08) (aged 47)
New York City, New York
Place of burial Fairmount Cemetery, Newark, New Jersey
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch United States Army
Union Army
Rank Corporal
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's 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.

Early years[edit]

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[edit]

Cannons representing Hancock's defenses, stormed by Pickett's Charge.

De Castro bore the Flag of Massachusetts for Company I, 19th Massachusetts Infantry. 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. The 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".[1] 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[edit]

Medal of Honor citation:

ArmyMoH 1862-95X.jpg
Sergeant Joseph H. De Castro

Rank and organization: Corporal, Company I, 19th Massachusetts Infantry
Place and date:At Gettysburg, Pa., July 3, 1863
Born:Boston, Mass.
Date of issue: December 1, 1864

Capture of flag of 19th Virginia regiment (C.S)

Post Civil War[edit]

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 of the Grand Army of the Republic. During his civilian years he was employed by the New York Barge Office. On May 8, 1892, De Castro died in his home which was located at 244 West 22nd Street. His funeral was held at the 18th Street Methodist Church in New York City and he was buried at Fairmount Cemetery (Section 2, Lot 300, Grave 2) in Newark, New Jersey.[2]

Awards and decorations[edit]

Joseph H. De Castro's awards and decorations include the following:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The Magazine of American History, page 18.
  2. ^ "New York Times"; May 10, 1892; Obituary; page 5


Further reading[edit]

  • 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.

External links[edit]