Discussion Willie Johnston Civil War Medal of Honor at 11 years old

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eboulais

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The youngest Medal of Honor recipient was awarded at 11 and was granted it at 13. Born in New York, 11-year-old Willie Johnston enlisted in the Union Army alongside his father, serving as a drummer boy with the 3rd Vermont Infantry during the Civil War. In June 1862, overpowered by Confederate forces, his unit retreated down the Virginia Peninsula under orders from General George McClellan. Along the way, the men discarded their equipment to hasten their pace. Young Willie, however, clung to his drum throughout the march and was later asked to play for his entire division on July 4. When Abraham Lincoln heard about the drummer’s bravery, he recommended him for the Medal of Honor, and Willie received the award in September 1863.

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