Civil War Soldier Received Top Honor
Cohasset is no stranger to heroes. Many of its residents have answered
the call of duty, serving in the various branches of the armed forces
during wartime. To make sure their sacrifice is never forgotten, the
Cohasset Veterans Memorial Committee has been working hard to commemorate
Cohasset soldiers from many wars who have served the town and country
well. However, there is one Cohasset soldier who will be remembered
not only for his service, but as Cohasset's only recipient of the nation's
highest award for bravery.
Levi Gaylord was a sergeant in Company A of the 29th Massachusetts
Infantry during the Civil War. On March 25, 1865, while on the road
to Richmond, Va. Gaylord manned a gun under heavy fire during the Battle
of Fort Stedman. According to civilwar.com, the battle was a last attempt
by Gen. Robert E. Lee to break through Gen. Ulysses S. Grant's Petersburg
defenses and threaten his supply depot at City Point. The Confederate
attack was a pre-dawn assault, and was met by a killing crossfire.
"He held them off until other Union troops came up and counter
attacked," said local historian David Wadsworth.
In total there were 3,850 casualties that day, and more than 1,900
Confederate soldiers were captured. The battle was declared a Union
victory, and on June 22, 1896, Gaylord was presented with a medal of
honor for valor in action. The Medal of Honor is the highest award a
soldier can receive for valor in action against enemy forces, and because
it is usually presented to the recipient by the President of the United
States in the name of Congress, it is often called the Congressional
Medal of Honor.
According to the Congressional Medal of Honor Society Web site, the
first Medal of Honor was given March 25, 1863 to Private Jacob Parrott
and five other soldiers. Since then there have been 3,459 Medals of
Honor awarded. Today there are 130 living recipients of the Medal of
Gaylord passed away Dec. 6, 1900 at the age of 60. He is buried in
the Gaylord family plot in Cohasset's Central Cemetery. Wadsworth said
his tombstone is very special, as it is made of white marble with some
gold leaf flecks.
The National Medal of Honor Society provided the tombstone a few years
ago to commemorate Gaylord's life. "I remember when it was given,
I gave a short talk at the ceremony," Wadsworth said.
For more information on Gaylord or any other Cohasset veteran,
please visit the Cohasset Veterans Memorial Committee Web site at www.cohassetveteransmemorial.com.