William Phinney

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William Phinney
Born 1824
Allegiance US flag 35 stars.svg United States
Service/branch Seal of the United States Department of the Navy (alternate).svg United States Navy
Rank Boatswain's Mate
Unit USS Lackawanna

American Civil War

Awards Medal of Honor

William Phinney (born 1824, date of death unknown) was a Union Navy sailor in the American Civil War and a recipient of the U.S. military's highest decoration, the Medal of Honor, for his actions at the Battle of Mobile Bay.


CSS Tennessee under heavy attack during the Battle of Mobile Bay

Born in 1824 in Norway, Phinney immigrated to the United States and was living in New York when he joined the Navy. He served during the Civil War as a boatswain's mate on the USS Lackawanna. At the Battle of Mobile Bay on August 5, 1864, Lackawanna engaged the CSS Tennessee at close range and Phinney distinguished himself as captain of an artillery gun. For this action, he was awarded the Medal of Honor four months later, on December 31, 1864.[1][2]

Official Citation[edit]

Phinney's official Medal of Honor citation reads:

On board the U.S.S. Lackawanna during successful attacks against Fort Morgan, rebel gunboats and the ram, Tennessee in Mobile Bay, 5 August 1864. Serving as a gun captain Phinney showed much presence of mind in managing the gun, and gave much needed encouragement to the crew during the engagement which resulted in the capture of the prize rebel ram Tennessee and in the damaging and destruction of Fort Morgan.[2]


  1. ^ "William Phinney". Hall of Valor. Military Times. Retrieved October 26, 2012. 
  2. ^ a b "Civil War Medal of Honor Recipients (M–Z)". Medal of Honor Citations. United States Army Center of Military History. June 26, 2011. Retrieved October 26, 2012.