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 Honor.
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.