Thomas R. Hawkins

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Thomas R. Hawkins
Thomas R Hawkins.jpg
Sergeant Major Thomas R. Hawkins
Born 1840
Cincinnati, Ohio
Died 1870 (aged 29–30)
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch United States Army
Union Army
Years of service 1863 - 1865
Rank Sergeant Major
Unit 6th United States Colored Infantry Regiment
Battles/wars American Civil War
*Battle of Chaffin's Farm
Awards Medal of Honor

Thomas R. Hawkins (1840 – February 28, 1870) was an African American Union Army soldier during the American Civil War and a recipient of America's highest military decoration—the Medal of Honor—for his actions at the Battle of Chaffin's Farm.


Hawkins joined the Army as a substitute from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on August 4, 1863, and became Sergeant Major of the 6th U.S. Colored Infantry Regiment on August 23. On September 29, 1864, he fought in the Battle of Chaffin's Farm, Virginia. He was discharged in May 1865 for wounds received in action.

More than five years later, on February 8, 1870, he was awarded the Medal of Honor for "rescue of regimental colors" during that battle.

Thomas Hawkins died of cancer at age 29 or 30 on February 28, 1870,[1] and was buried in Columbian Harmony Cemetery in Washington, D.C. His remains were moved to National Harmony Memorial Park in Landover, Maryland, in 1960 when the original cemetery closed and was sold. A memorial plaque was placed at his grave in 1997.[2]

Hawkins' courage at New Market Heights is depicted in the painting Three Medals of Honor by artist Don Troiani, which was unveiled on June 24, 2013 at the Union League of Philadelphia.[3]

Medal of Honor citation[edit]

Rank and organization: Sergeant Major, 6th U.S. Colored Troops. Place and date: At Chapins Farm, Va., September 29, 1864. Entered service at: Philadelphia, Pa. Birth: Cincinnati, Ohio. Date of issue: February 8, 1870.


Rescue of regimental colors.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Died". The Evening Star. March 1, 1870. p. 3. 
  2. ^ Harris, Hamil R.; Smith, Leef (May 27, 1997). "On Memorial Day, Soldiers and Citizens Honor Sacrifices of Those Who Fought for Freedom". The Washington Post. p. B12. 
  3. ^ Johnson, James E. (September 4, 2014). "Scholar studies lives of African-American Civil War veterans buried in Woodbury". South Jersey Times. Retrieved August 5, 2017.