December 8


December 8, 1908 William Harvey Carney, Medal of Honor recipient, died. Carney was born enslaved on February 29, 1840 in Norfolk, Virginia, but escaped to Massachusetts through the Underground Railroad. He later bought the rest of his family out of slavery. Carney served with the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry as a sergeant. On July 18, 1863, he participated in the assault on Fort Wagner in Charleston, South Carolina. During the assault, Carney despite being wounded several times, saved the American flag and returned it to the Union lines. For his actions, on May 23, 1900, nearly 40 years later, Carney was awarded the medal, America’s highest military decoration. In later life, Carney was a postal employee and popular speaker at patriotic events. The attack on Fort Wagner is depicted in the 1989 film “Glory.” Sgt. Wm. H. Carney Memorial Academy in New Bedford, Massachusetts is named in Carney’s honor.


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