What happened to Delina Roberts' Medal of Honor?

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SWMODave

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delina roberts 3 kc journal jan 30 1898.jpg

Photo and main story KC Journal January 30, 1898
In 1897, there was a push on to award a Medal of Honor to Mrs Delina [Reader] Roberts, who had traveled to a battle to care for her wounded brother, but apparently was credited with saving 22 men. I can find very little on what happened after the Congressional bill was sent to the Committee on Military Affairs. Maybe someone out there knows something, or can find something ...... but since her name and heroic deed barely shows up in Google .... it will now.

delina roberts 1.jpg

delina roberts 2.jpg


delina roberts Congressional Record Vol 31.jpg

Congressional Record Vol 31

delina roberts 1898.jpg


P.S. Statements in this story do not 'jell', but it is always possible that 40+ years after the fact, details can get scrambled. If Congress determined this claim to be fradulent, or with skepticism ... please update the thread. There were far too many true heroines during this war to give credit to potential fake claims. But unless and until .... her name deserves to be remembered.
 

connecticut yankee

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Delina Reader Roberts was born in New York in July 1842 and died in January 1907 at age 64. She is buried next to her husband Lieutenant John Troll Roberts in Bellefontaine Cemetery, Saint Louis, Missouri. Her husband Lieut John Troll Roberts, was a Civil War officer. Roberts enlisted in Co. B, 102nd OVI, as 1st Sergeant on August 9, 1862 at the age of 29. He was promoted to 2nd Lieutenant of Co. B on December 20, 1862 and then promoted to 1st Lieutenant of Co. C, 102nd OVI, on April 23, 1864. He was mustered out on 30 June 1865 at Nashville, TN.

Source: https://www.findagrave.com
 
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JPK Huson 1863

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Agree details can become foggy from a distance but I'd have no issue believing the story was pretty much as told. Read enough first hand accounts of and by women writing at the time whose actions were genuinely heroic ( and forgotten by history ) that this one doesn't seem unlikely.

@Mike Serpa , you spend a ton of time researching the MoH and the war- is there anywhere it's possible to find more information on Delina's story?
 
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connecticut yankee

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Delina Reader Robert's story in her own words:


The Saint Paul globe. (St. Paul, Minn.) 1896-1905, January 23, 1898

Tardily congress recognizes that there lives in America the bravest of women. A woman whose heroic conduct In battle makes her worthy to stand in the same place with Florence Nightingale, as deserving of the admiration and gratitude of the world. From comparative obscurity Mrs. Delina Roberts, Chouteau Avenue, St. Louis, becomes the most talked of woman of the day. Congress about to reward her heroism during the war by presenting to her a medal. The incidents during which her woman's sympathy for wounded and suffering soldiers made her move fearlessly amid bullets and burstng shells while men dropped behind cover and crawled to safety are here told for the first time over her own signature. Mrs. Roberts, heroine of the civil war, writes the most thrilling story for the Globe.

ST. LOUIS, Jan. 21.—
In September, '61, it being immediately following the Fort Donelson battle, which lasted three days and nights, I secured from the provost marshal at St. Louis a government pass to go aboard the government steamboat called the Des Moines, which was ordered to Donelson to bring back a load of wounded soldiers who had fought in the Donelson battle. They were to be cared for in our government hospitals here. I got the pass so that I could bring to my father's house in St. Louis my brother, Charles H. Reader, of Company I, Second lowa infantry, mustered in at Clinton, Iowa. He was lying at Fort Donelson wounded. I was then seventeen years of age. My name was Delina Reader.When the Des Moines was about to draw in her gangplank to leave for Fort Donelson, a courier on horseback rode furiously down to the dock and handed a note to the captain of the boat, Thomas Baldwin, of Cincinnati, Ohio . In less than five minutes theTwenty-sixth Indiana infantry was coming double quick down the levee to the boat, 1,000 strong, a full, fresh regiment that had been enlisted only six days. A few minutes later the plank was swung in and the boat was starting for mid stream. There was no possible way of escape for me, as the plank was full of running soldiers from the minute the courier came until it was swung in. The cause of this excitement was that the Twenty-fifth Indiana regiment had been ordered to reinforce Col. James A. Mulligan, who was at Lexington, Mo., surrounded by 25,000 of Gen. Sterling Price's men. Col. Mulligan and his soldiers had been several days without water. A fleet of four boats loaded with troops left St. Louis together to go up the Missouri river to rescue Col. Mulligan. There was not a woman on the Des Moines but myself. Government boats did not carry chamber maids during the civil war. The private soldiers lay around the floor of the cabin and lower deck. The officers of the regiment occupied the staterooms in the gentlemen's cabin, and rooms of theTexas. The state room in the ladies' cabin was not allowed to be used by the government. I was told at the time by the surgeon of the Twenty-sixth Indiana regiment that three ladies who had carried to their husbands, who were officers of the boat, their laundry, were accidentally taken along on the boats. During the battle named they all fainted away, and the surgeon told the surgeon of the Twenty-sixth that it took him all his time to bring them to, as they would hear cries and groans of the wounded and the firing and breaking of glass on the steamboats, and wouldgo right off in another faint, causing the wounded soldiers to be neglected on their account.
We were three weeks making the trip from St. Louis up the Missouririver to a point just above Glasgow, Mo., where our battle took place. Our trip was slow, because at times we were detained for several hours at a time, anchored in the middle of the river, fearing to go ahead as camps of guerrillas were seen from the boat by the aid of field glasses In the hands of officers. At other times bands of guerrillas would shell the boat, but all of the missiles went in the river just ahead of the boat, or just back of it. At another time, Capt. George Cayton, now deceased, was at the wheel. He was an old lower Mississippi pilot... I was sitting on the bunk in the pilot house when a shell whizzed right in front of the pilot house not two feet away. Capt. Cayton turned the bow of the boat a little towards the shore in the direction the shell came from. Capt. Baldwin told Capt. Cayton to order the engineer to put on full steam and run them out of there, or he would blow his head off. Capt. Cayton at once turned the bow of the boat straight ahead and the boat ran faster than I ever saw a boat go before.
There were many exciting incidents before we reached Glasgow.The weather was scorching hot and the Missouri river water was so thick itcould be cut with a knife. Lying around the floor of the gentlemen's cabin were about forty-six soldiers They were very sick with a fever and could not eat a soldier's fare. I used to buy three meals in the morning, three dinners and three suppers. I paid the steward 50 cents for each meal. I would divide the meals into three and give a portion to three of tlie sick boys. Then the next meal I would give to the following three in line and so on. After a while the rations for the boat's officers ran short, and the captain of the boat forbade the steward selling me any more meals. I then divided my own meal into three and gave it to the boys. I had gone four days without a bite to eat when one of the waiters reported it to the steward and he took me in the pantry and made me while he watched me for fear I would carry the food out in the cabin to one of the sick boys. Every day at 3 p. m. I had a large pitcher of iced lemonade made at the bar and the chaplain would carry it for me while we went the rounds. I knelt and raised the sick soldier's head and give him the cold drink handed to me by the chaplain just when his fever was at its highest.
One night we were passing through the most dangerous part of the country, where bands of guerrillas were numerous and not far apart, when the commanding officer in charge of the fleet gave the order for the boats to tie up to a bank... It was near a cornfield, the time 10:30 p. m., a beautiful moonlight night; our boat was in advance and it ran into this bank and tied up first with the bow to the bank... On guard was placed one full company of 100 mento protect the boats. The office windows were all open at the time. I was sitting on the high stool that belonged to the clerk of the boat. In the office with me were Capt.George Cayton, one of the pilots, whose wife in St. Louis was a friend of mine; Capt.Thomas Baldwin, the boat's captain, and Jerry Wetzell, my brother-inlaw, and the first engineer of the boat. Nine companies of the Twenty-sixth-had marched off the boat to the cornfield, and the soldiers from the other three boats had also marched to the same spot, leaving one company to guard each boat. Before the troops had time to get in line, a terrible firing commenced. Jerry Wetzel, the engineer, caught hold of me and tried to drag me off the stool to take me away. The groans and cries of the wounded were heart rending. I clenched my feet around the legs of the high stool, clasped my two arms around the rail that separated the window sash, and clung so tightly he could not loosen my grasp. Bullets were flying around us thick and fast, the skylights and transoms were breaking and the broken glass was dropping all around us. Engineer Wetzell stayed but a moment and then fell on his hands and knees on the office floor, crept to the stairway that led down stairs, and disappeared. After the battle, I learned that he went for safety to the hold of the boat. As soon as he let go of me, Capt. Cayton tried to pull me off the stool; after two or three more attempts he deserted me and went on his hands and knees after the other one. Then Capt. Baldwin, of the boat, grabbed me. He, too, fell on his hands and knees and went head foremost down the stairs to the hold of the boat. As soon as he was gone, I flew from my stool and ran down the stairs to the gang plank and on to the cornfield.
The first soldier I saw down and crying I stooped and helped to raise. I put my right arm around his waist and he put his arm around my neck, and I held his other arm in front with my left hand and bore him, groaning and crying with pain, to the boat, up the stairs, and stowed him away In the state room opposite the wheel of the boat, as I had been told a ball could not go through them. I ran as fast' as I could down the cabin onto the field again, and brought in the same manner another wounded soldier. I made twenty-two trips of this kind, and each time brought back a wounded man and filled the two state rooms between the wheels of the boats. All this time the bullets were whizzing in front of us, over us and beside us. They came so close to my ear that the whizzing sound went through my head. The living balls of fire would fly past and go through the transoms and glassware, breaking and falling all around us. The groans and cries of the men, the shouts of the officers, and the whizzing balls I will never forget.
When I ran through the cabin for another wounded soldier, the men were retreating in confusion, and the lower deck and plank was full of excited and running soldiers. I was afraid I would be trampled to death, and ran back and told the wounded men in the stateroom to let me in. as our boys were retreating to the boats. They opened the door and the room was so full it was with difficulty I could get in. The bullets were still whizzing, and the glass was still breaking, as the enemy was firing from the corn field at the soldiers stationed on the guard. The four boats pulled out in the river, ran back two and one-half miles and anchored until the earliest dawn of day.
I was up all night with the surgeon making bandages and soothing the wounded men while the surgeon dressed their wounds and amputated limbs. I had to take off and tear into banages my own white skirts, as material became scarce. I tore up the few sheets and pillow slips of the boat that I could find and made them into bandages. After the boats pulled out, I could still hear groans and cries for help and I went where the cries seemed to come from. On the guard I found about forty wounded soldiers, besides many dead, shot from the corn field. I helped the wounded in the cabin and had every state room, contrary to captain's orders, filled with wounded and suffering soldiers. At early dawnI discovered the boat was tied up, and when I went to investigate I found we were again at the corn field. I could hear groans and cries, and although it had been a beautiful moonlight night. It was raining hard in the morning and the wounded men lay drenched to the skin in the rain. They were tenderly carried by their comrades to the boats, laid on the berths in the gentlemen's state rooms, and their wounds dressed at once. The dead were brought aboard and laid on the floor of the gentlemen's cabin. I saw many faces of men that I had talked with on the day of the battle.
The second morning after the battle, about 9 o'clock, the colonel of the regiment, Col. Wheatley, came into the cabin and invited me out on the bow to take leave and bid farewell to the boys, for they were leaving the boats that morning to go overland a roundabout way to reach Col. Mulligan. The officers of the regiment were standing on the bow of the boat. Col. Wheatley stood on one side of me and Lieut.Col. Dick O'Neill stood on the other side. Below, on the bow of the boat, held by the bridle, was a beautiful snow white horse, about fifteen hands high. He had on a new side saddle of tan and a tan bridle that I was told Lieut. Col. O'Neill went to Boonville, Mo., the day before to purchase. The troops were stationed in line on the bank, with their caps off and held by the right hand at the side of the face.
Col. Wheatley, the commander of the 31st. regiment, then presented to me in a very sad and impressive speech, the snow white horse, as a mark of gratitude of the officers of the regiment for my kindness to the sick soldiers during the voyage of three weeks' duration, and, as the colonel said, for my heroic action in carrying the boys to a place of safety during the very heat of thebattle. I answered the colonel's speech, thanking them all for my beautiful horse, and answering them, I should always consider him a tribute of love from the Twenty-sixth Indiana, that all I had done for them on our three weeks' trip had been one of the greatest pleasures of my life, and I had performed only my duty to my country and the brave boys In blue. I told them I would take my beautiful horse and return to my home in St. Louis, and my prayers for their safety and comfort should follow them. I told them of the wounded companies we had on board to bring back to the government hospital in St. Louis. I promised to visit them each day and carry them delicacies from home, for some were parting with brothers and other relatives. I bade them farewell, and Col. Wheatley gave the order for three cheers. They waved their caps overtheir heads and gave me three cheers. He gave the order a second time and their cheers were deafening. It seemed as though it could be heard blocks away. A deck hand took charge of my horse and the officers shook hands with me and each thanked me, as he bade me farewell, for my kindness and attention to the troops, both in sickness and in battle. I went to the lower deck and mounted my horse, took his bridle and pointed his head towards the departing troops. When they had reached the top of the hill, each company in command of its officer, they were ordered to halt and wave their caps to me, and when they saw me on my horse, their cheers could be heard far away.
I named my horse "Dick," after Lieut. Col. O'Neill, who died about fifteen years ago in New Orleans. I brought my horse to St. Louis on the Des Moines and found him very useful in riding to and from the hospitals where our sick and wounded soldiers were sent from some of the hardest battles. In the winter of 1872 I lost my horse with the epizootic. My labors with the troops and in the hospitals did not end with the war. I am enrolled with Gen. Madison Miller, Relief Corps No. 86, Auxiliary to the G. A. R., and today whenever I can better the condition of the old soldiers and their families, its my greatest pleasure to do so.

— Mrs. Delina Roberts, No. 4367 Chouteau Avenue, St. Louis Mo.
 
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