Silverware - Medal of Honor Winner


Feb 17, 2020
Another of those "Which Forum Does This Belong In ?" jobs. I reckon this refers to a relic, so here goes . . . . .

Yesterday I was half watching an English TV programme which revels in the title "Flog It". In context, Flog is English slang for Sell. The format of this programme is that a small team of neutral auctioneers travels the country and values artefacts which members of the public wish to sell. Then the item is put up for auction, and the valuers skill is thus tested.

Now, up came a silver Christening cup hallmarked London 1902. The engraved inscription showed that it was given by "Major Edgar Putnam to his Godson, Saunders Edgar Davis."

The cup was being sold by a descendant, because nobody in the family wanted it any more ! (I know, I know . . . . ) Both the Davis family and Putnam were transatlantic travellers, which is how they met on more than one occasion on both sides of the Pond.

Anyway, the family knew that that Putnam was a Medal of Honor winner. Google revealed that the action for which he was awarded the MoH took place at Crumps Creek, Va. on 27 May 1864, while he was serving as a sergeant with Company A, 9th New York Cavalry.

I cannot find any indication that he gained any further promotion either during the war or after, so I wonder why the Sergeant became a Major by 1902 ?

The programme was a repeat, first aired in February 2016. The hammer price was a mere £60. An auctioneer's premium would be payable, (variable, typical 10 -15%) as would a Sales tax (VAT - Value Added Tax) so the amount payable would be ca. £80/$US100.

Regrettably it is not uncommon for silver artefacts sold at auction to be melted down for sale as bullion, but there is no way of knowing what the fate of this cup was.

Has anybody any information about Putnam's military status when he commissioned the engraving in 1902?

John Hartwell

Forum Host
Aug 27, 2011
Central Massachusetts
Index card has him discharged as Captain. Perhaps "Major" was a brevet rank? of Honor Recipienr.,Virginia on May 27, 1864.
"Edgar Pierpont Putnam Residence was not listed; 18 years old. Enlisted on 10/11/1861 at Stockton, NY as a Private. On 11/9/1861 he mustered into 'D' Co. NY 9th Cavalry He Re-enlisted on 1/2/1864 He was Mustered Out on 7/17/1865 at Cloud's Mills, VA Promotions: * Corpl 6/25/1862 * Sergt 11/1/1862 * 1st Lieut 10/4/1864 * Capt 4/22/1865 (As of Co. I) Other Information: born 5/4/1844 in Stockton, Chautauqua Co., NY died 5/20/1921 Buried: Lake View Cemetery, Jamestown, NY Medal of Honor Information: He was awarded the Medal of Honor for action on 5/27/1864 at Crump's Creek, VA. (Drove off large body of enemy, led charge and captured 27 prisoners) Sources used by Historical Data Systems, Inc.: - New York: Report of the Adjutant-General - Deeds of Valor. How our Soldier-heroes won the Medal of Honor - Medal of Honor Recipients 1863-1994 - Congress Medal of Honor Legion of the United States - Union Blue: History of MOLLUS"
[from: New York Heritage]
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Lt. Colonel
Forum Host
Regtl. Quartermaster Shiloh 2020
May 7, 2016
Interesting that it is in England. According to his Fold3 records he was a captain. @CivilWarTalk is a MOH guru so I'm sure he has a lot more insight.
Putnam, Edgar P (Pvt).jpg


Feb 17, 2020
Interesting that it is in England. According to his Fold3 records he was a captain. @CivilWarTalk is a MOH guru so I'm sure he has a lot more insight.
John Hartwell, ucvrelics, thank you both for your replies. The cup was/is in England because the Davis family was English, and it does seem that the cup was made in England. The sale price seems remarkably low, and may just represent bullion value at the time (4 years ago.) Usually an engraved inscription on a piece of presentation silver reduces value, as in most cases they tend to be meaningless to the new owner. The same sort of logic applies to an authors signature in a book if the recipients name is mentioned.

In the case of an MoH winner though, you would think that value would be added.

I bet if the cup had been auctioned in New York, or anywhere in the US, it would have made a darn sight more than a hundred bucks !
In the internet age, American interest could have been aroused. However, the TV prog I mentioned travels around the country to record episodes, and some of the auction venues are in small, out-of-the-way locations. Whatever, somebody got a bargain.

The worst part of all this, in my mind, is that the family of Saunders Edgar Davis were so ready to dispose of this item for such a trifling amount.


Lieutenant General
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Managing Member & Webmaster
Apr 1, 1999
Martinsburg, WV

Putnam, Edgar Pierpont for many years an influential and prominent business man, and citizen of Jamestown, N.Y. is descended from fine old Revolutionary stock, and is himself a gallant veteran of the Civil War during which he served with distinction in the cavalry arm of the service. In Oct 1861, he enlisted as a private in Company D, 9th New York volunteer cavalry (veteran), Col. John Beardsley, and on Nov. 7, 1861 was mustered into the U.S. service for three years, was promoted to the rank of corporal on June 25, 1862, to sergeant on Nov. 1, 1862, was commissioned 1st lieutenant on Oct. 4, 1864, captain on April 22, 1865, and major with brevet rank by the State of New York in July, 1865, for gallant and meritorious service during the war.

Maj. Putnam was a highly efficient and faithful officer, and distinguished himself in action on numerous occasions, notably at Crump's creek, Va. May 27, 1864. For gallantry displayed in this engagement he was awarded a medal of honor by the government of the United States on May 13, 1892. The war department record in describing his conduct on this occasion says that he with a small force on a reconnaissance, drove off a strong body of the enemy, charged into another force of the enemy's cavalry, and stampeded them taking 27 prisoners. From the time he left the state Nov. 26, 1861 en-route to Washington with his regiment, until he was mustered out and honorably discharged on July 17, 1865 at Cloud's mills Va. he was constantly on duty at the front, except for two brief periods when he was absent from his command by reason of wounds received in action.

He was severely wounded during Gen. Sheridan's raid at Trevilian Station, June 11, 1864, and was forced to spend two months in hospital in Washington, D.C. He was again wounded at the battle of Five Forks, April 1, 1865, and as a result was incapacitated for active duty for a period of thirty days. On April 12, 1865, Special Order No. 75 he was granted a thirty days furlough by order of Gen. Grant from City Point, Va. which order was signed by P. S. Bowers assistant adjutant general.

During the battle of Gettysburg, Maj. Putnam served on the staff of Gen. John W Geary who was in command of the 2nd division, 12th army corps and was in command of Gen. Geary's escort on this occasion. The veteran 9th regiment saw an unusual amount of hard service during the war, and participated in some 140 battles and skirmishes, including many of the most important engagements of the war. It served throughout McClellan's Peninsular campaign, and after being mounted in June 1862, took part in Pope's Virginia campaign attached to the cavalry brigade, 1st corps, Army of the Potomac.

It continued to serve with the cavalry corps Army of the Potomac throughout the remainder of 1862, during the Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, and subsequent Virginia campaigns of 1863, including that of Mine Run, and gained a splendid reputation for gallantry and efficiency. Its duty as cavalry operating on the flanks and in the advance of the army kept it constantly on the move, and it was almost constantly skirmishing. It sustained heavy losses in these trying months, especially at Beverly Ford, June 9, Brandy Station, Aug 1, and during the operations in the vicinity of Culpeper, Oct. 10-18, 1863.

On the opening of the Wilderness campaign in 1864, still attached to the end brigade, 1st division cavalry corps, it was heavily engaged at the Wilderness, and Spotsylvania, then rode with Sheridan on his raid to the James River, May 9-24, being in action at the North Anna, Yellow tavern, Meadow bridge, and Jones bridge.

Returning to the main army, it was in action at Totopotomy, Hanoverton, Old Church, Cold Harbor, and Gaines mill, then followed Sheridan's Trevilian Raid June 7-24 including the bloody engagement at Trevilian Station before Petersburg June 26-July 3 followed by the engagements at Deep Bottom, Prince George Courthouse, again at Deep Bottom, Newtown, Cedar creek, Cedarville, Old Tollgate, Front Royal, Kearneysville, Smithfield, four different actions at Berryville, Port Republic, Winchester, Bunker Hill, Opequan, Fisher's hill, Mt Jackson, New Market, and Mt Crawford. From Oct. 1864, as part of the Army of the Shenandoah, it performed its full part in bringing to a successful close Sheridan's brilliant campaign in the Shenandoah Valley, which was swept clear of the enemy, and was repeatedly in action during the remainder of the year.

In 1865 it was engaged during March at Waynesboro, Charlottesville, Goochland Courthouse, and White House, then shared in the final Appomattox campaign, March 28 to April 9 1865, and was present at the final surrender of Gen. Lee.

Upon severing his connection with the army in July 1865, Maj. Putnam was employed in the work of the U.S. government survey in Minnesota, from 1866 to 1875. He then returned to Jamestown N.Y. and conducted a drug store and book business until 1889. By the exercise of indefatigable industry, combined with strictly honorable business methods, he won his way to business success and became a man of large affairs. He is a director of the Chautauqua County Trust Company, the Bank of Jamestown, the Home Telephone Company, and the Jamestown and Warren Trolley Lines. He served as postmaster of his city in 1884-5, was clerk of Chautauqua county from 1889 to 1892, was for five years chairman of the Republican committee for Chautauqua County, and served seven years in the fire department of Jamestown.

Maj Putnam has long been a prominent Grand Army man, and at one time served on the staff of Gen I. N. Walker, National Commander of the Grand Army of the Republic. On May 2, 1894 he was elected a member of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion, Insignia No. 10 537 New York Commandery, and on Feb. 27, 1893 he was made a companion of the first class of the Medal of Honor Legion Among the numerous other organizations to which he belongs may be mentioned the Army and Navy Club of New York city, the Empire State Society Sons of the Revolution, and the Union Veteran Legion Pierce Samuel C veteran soldier and educator of Rochester. Pierpont Putnam medal of honor&f=false
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Lieutenant General
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Managing Member & Webmaster
Apr 1, 1999
Martinsburg, WV
Here is the transcript from that show:

RAF Museum, London 13 ‹ Series 14 ‹ Flog It!

Now Anita's uncovered a treasure that's taking her back in time.0:31:560:32:00
Sarah, this is a lovely wee object. A little christening cup.0:32:010:32:06
I think these are absolutely charming.0:32:060:32:09
And this is an early-20th-century example.0:32:090:32:13
-Tell me, was it part of your family history?
-Very much so.
The original Edgar, as in Major General Edgar Pierpont Putnam,0:32:180:32:23
who is named on the cup, was a major general in the American Civil War.0:32:230:32:28
He met my grandparents sometime in 1899, 1890-something.0:32:280:32:33
-Did they travel in America?
But they met also in Switzerland. He came over to Switzerland.0:32:350:32:39
At that time, my grandmother was pregnant.0:32:390:32:42
And she said, "I do love the name Edgar.0:32:420:32:45
"I'd like, if I have a boy, to call him Edgar."0:32:450:32:47
And he said, "If you call him Edgar, I'm going to be the godfather."0:32:470:32:51
So this was a big American general from the American Civil War?0:32:510:32:57
-Yeah, yeah.
-Let's have a wee look at the inscription.
We've got, "From Major Edgar P Putnam,0:33:000:33:04
"Jamestown, New York,0:33:040:33:07
"to Saunders Edgar Davis. 20th of September, 1902."0:33:070:33:12
-That was my dad's birthday.
-And that was your dad?
This makes it a more interesting object,0:33:150:33:19
the fact that it has that American connection.0:33:190:33:22
It's quite a straightforward christening cup,0:33:220:33:26
although it's very pretty and the embossed work on it is charming.0:33:260:33:31
It's hallmarked for London, 1902, so he must have come over to London...0:33:310:33:37
-Yeah. OK. 1902 and bought it as a new item.
-Tell me, this is a wee part of your family history as well...
Why is it you are wanting to sell it?0:33:440:33:47
My grandparents aren't alive. My father is not alive.0:33:470:33:50
I asked my children, they are not interested.0:33:500:33:52
I'd rather do some good with it.0:33:520:33:54
I thought half of it, whatever I get, would go to the hospice0:33:540:33:56
so at least somebody gets some good.0:33:560:33:58
-And somebody who really will enjoy it.
What I feel is that whoever buys this will be0:34:000:34:03
interested in the history of it.0:34:030:34:05
And they will be able to find this major somewhere0:34:050:34:08
and someone will have fun doing that research.0:34:080:34:11
Now, charming as it is,0:34:110:34:14
it's not going to make you a huge amount of money.0:34:140:34:17
No, I didn't expect it to.0:34:170:34:18
I would put an estimate of 40 to 60 on it.0:34:180:34:23
-Would you be happy for it to go into auction at that?
-Yes. Yes.
I've had it since 1969, when my dad died,0:34:270:34:30
and it's just been sitting in the cabinet.0:34:300:34:32
-I clean it every so often, as you can see.
-And that's it. You know.
-It's been looked after.
-40 to 60. A reserve of £40.
Hopefully, it will take a wee flyer.0:34:420:34:44
I'm happy. Whatever it makes, it makes.0:34:440:34:47
-It was lovely to have you along at "Flog It!"
-Thank you.


Feb 17, 2020
Thank you Mike. I had no idea that a transcript could be obtained.

As you'll see, the owner referred to EPP as a Major General. Also, there was no reference to the MoH in the conversation that you have posted.

However, there was a brief further mention of the cup later in the show, a sort of reminder to the watching audience, just before it went up for auction. By this time somebody had realised the MoH connection, and mentioned it briefly.