Civil War puzzle: West Virginia urges veterans’ descendants to collect thousands of unclaimed medals

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A yr after the Civil Warfare ended, West Virginia licensed the minting of greater than 26,000 medals to honor the state’s troopers that served within the Union Military. Greater than 150 years later, nevertheless, 1000’s of these medals are nonetheless unclaimed.

Randy Marcum, a historian on the West Virginia State Archives, informed Fox Information that three,392 medals stay within the state’s possession. Numerous Civil Warfare veterans, he defined, had been merely unaware of their existence, as had been generations of their descendants.

“A number of these people, straight after the battle, they went out West,” he stated, noting that the newly created state of West of Virginia was a turbulent place within the instant aftermath of the Civil Warfare. Whereas greater than 26,000zero West Virginians served within the Union ranks, it’s estimated that over 10,000 served within the Confederacy’s forces.

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Almost 20,000 of the Union medals got out between 1866 and 1890 and, through the years, the state has spent cash to promote their existence, based on Marcum. The GAR (Grand Military of the Republic) was instrumental in distributing a number of the medals after 1890, a duty that later handed to the West Virginia State Archives.

An unclaimed medal awarded to a Civil War soldier who served in the 45th U.S. Colored Infantry Regiment

An unclaimed medal awarded to a Civil Warfare soldier who served within the 45th U.S. Coloured Infantry Regiment
(Steve Brightwell, West Virginia Division of Arts, Tradition and Historical past)

A listing of the medals and details about the paperwork wanted to assert them is posted on the state’s web site.

Marcum says that he often will get three to 5 profitable purposes a month and is thrilled when descendants obtain their medal. “It’s all concerning the reminiscence [of the veteran] and honoring that reminiscence,” he informed Fox Information. “These guys went via an terrible lot.”

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The historian, himself a U.S. Navy veteran, typically sees modern-era veterans amassing their ancestor’s medal. “What’s actually a pleasure is when a veteran is available in and claims it and says ‘I’m a veteran and I need to honor my ancestor.’”

Historian Randy Marcum and the unclaimed medals at the West Virginia State Archives.

Historian Randy Marcum and the unclaimed medals on the West Virginia State Archives.
(Steve Brightwell, West Virginia Division of Arts, Tradition and Historical past)

Marcum, who had ancestors serving on either side of the Civil Warfare, informed Fox Information that there was an unclaimed medal even in his circle of relatives. The Union soldier, additionally named Randolph Marcum, moved to Minnesota after the Civil Warfare and his medal went unclaimed for over 100 years. “One other member of the family, about 30 years in the past, claimed it,” he stated.

Every medal is individualized with the title of the recipient on the sting, together with their regiment and firm.

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The state spent round $27,000 to get the medals produced, the equal of round $426,000 at present. “It was a reasonably large outlay for a state that had solely been in existence for 3 years,” Marcum stated.

West Virginia wants the descendants of Civil War veterans to claim the medals.

West Virginia needs the descendants of Civil Warfare veterans to assert the medals.
(Steve Brightwell, West Virginia Division of Arts, Tradition and Historical past)

Among the many medals minted, a small quantity are for troopers that served within the 45th U.S. Coloured Infantry Regiment. “There have been a bit of over 200 troops that got here from West Virginia that had been within the 45th – we don’t have very many purposes for these medals,” Marcum stated. “A number of these guys, after the battle, they dispersed out West – a number of them had been within the Indian Wars.”

Nonetheless, a medal belonging to a soldier from the 45th was claimed by one among his descendants in 2007.

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Time stories that different states additionally licensed medals for Union troopers, however cites officers in New Jersey, Ohio and New Jersey who say that they don’t have shares of unclaimed medals. Massachusetts has 800 unclaimed “minutemen” medals, however there aren’t any plans to distribute them, based on the information outlet.

Many West Virginia Civil War veterans were unaware of the medals.

Many West Virginia Civil Warfare veterans had been unaware of the medals.
(Steve Brightwell, West Virginia Division of Arts, Tradition and Historical past)

West Virginia needs relations to return ahead and declare the 1000’s of remaining medals in its archive.

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Nearly 20,000 of the medals were distributed between 1866 and 1890. (Steve Brightwell, West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture and History)

Almost 20,000 of the medals had been distributed between 1866 and 1890. (Steve Brightwell, West Virginia Division of Arts, Tradition and Historical past)

“We’re, on a regular basis, reaching out to people,” Marcum stated. “I attend a number of the Civil Warfare re-enactments, I take a number of the medals and an inventory of all of the names.”

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“We do welcome individuals to use for them,” he added. “All alongside, that has been the aim, to get them to the households in order that they’ll honor and cherish the reminiscence of the troopers.”

Comply with James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers



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