Medals of the American Civil War
a work in progress!
First Call and State issue medals
"First Call" or "First Defender" medals were awarded only to individuals who voluntarily enlisted upon President Lincoln's first call to take arms against the rebellion in April 1861. Many states also awarded medals to those with service anytime during the war.
The Massachusetts Minuteman Medal is a First Call medal awarded to soldiers and the next of kin of soldiers, who enlisted in the first month of the Civil War. They are well struck and produced by the U.S. Mint. Each award is named on the rim in impressed lettering to the recipient with rank, name, company and regiment. Rarity is based on the man's wartime service, rank, and how many were issued to that unit. The award was not authorized until 1902, well after the war's conclusion. Many examples exist boxed or in mint unworn condition. Records indicate 3,805 medals were struck.
New Jersey First Defenders Medal
New Jersey Civil War Service Medal
Authorized in 1904 and struck by Hayes Bros. Co., Ogletree reports the highest observed number at 4291. These are often found named but all are only numbered but the numbers are traceable.
Ohio Veterans medal
One of, if not the first of the state awards. Tiffany produced 20,000 of these medals immediatly after the wars end. They were patterned after the British Crimean War medal of 1854. Each medal is hand engraved on the reverse to the recipient with his unit.
West Virginia Civil War Service medal
Unique in that it came in three distinct award patterns and like the Ohio medal, authorized quickly (1867). The medals were:
Class 1 Honorably Discharged, approx. 22,100
Class II Killed in Battle, approx. 800
Class III For Liberty, approx. 3.200 (died in service)
They are officially named on the rim with Name, rank and unit.
Gettysburg Reunion medals
1893 New York Monument dedication
The New York Monument at Gettysburg
Rim engraved examples
1913 Gettysburg Reunion
1938 Gettysburg Reunion
I wonder what the veterans and vendors of the day called them? Ladder badge is a collector term referring to multipiece, usually nickle silver, badges that were personalized invarious ways to the veteran and purchased at reunions. Some are hallmarked.
Kearny Medal & Kearny Cross
Wartime worn corps badges
Federal issue Civil War Campaign Medal
Referred to as a 'badge' at the time and issued in 1909 to Union officers and enlisted men. The first 500 were No. prefixed and many are traceable. M.No. and plain numbers after that, with change to a blue and gray ribbon.
Civil War Research sites