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The Thanks of Congress are a series of formal resolutions passed by the United States Congress originally to extend the government's formal thanks for significant victories or impressive actions by American military commanders and their troops. Although it began during the American Revolutionary War, the practice peaked during the American Civil War. Similarly, the Confederate Congress also passed resolutions honoring extraordinary performance to individuals or military units.[1]

Early yearsEdit

During the American Revolution, the official Thanks of Congress from the Continental Congress was often accompanied by a specially struck commemorative gold or silver medal. Among the recipients were George Washington, Horatio Gates, John Eager Howard, John Stark, Baron von Steuben, and Henry Lee (See also List of Congressional Gold Medal recipients).[1]

Other recipients in the early years of the United States include Alexander Macomb (War of 1812) (1814), Charles Gratiot in the same war, and Andrew Jackson (epilogue to the War of 1812) (1815) and Zachary Taylor (1847).[2][3]

American Civil WarEdit

During the American Civil War, the Thanks of Congress were joint resolutions of Congress which were published in the Statutes at Large to honor officers from late 1861 through May 1866 for significant victories or impressive actions.[4] A total of thirty officers were named in these acts during the war, fifteen in the Union Army and fifteen in the Union Navy.[1] Two naval officers were immediately promoted after receiving the award, John L. Worden of the USS Monitor[5], and William B. Cushing[6]. Because the Thanks of Congress was only awarded to officers, the Medal of Honor was created at this time to honor soldiers in the Army, and over 1500 men received the medal by the end of the war.[1][7] Only one officer, General Ulysses S. Grant, received both the Thanks of Congress and a Congressional Gold Medal during the Civil War.[7]

The first citation during the American Civil War recognized "the gallant and patriotic services of the late Brig. Gen. Nathaniel Lyon, and the officers and soldiers under his command at the Battle of Wilson's Creek, 10 Aug. 1861."[8] Admiral David Dixon Porter was honored the most, on four separate occasions.

Later honorees included Admiral George Dewey (1898) and Captain Arthur Rostron (1914).[7]

Civil War RecipientsEdit

Recipient Date of approval Military action
Nathaniel Lyon and officers and men under his commandDecember 24, 1861Wilson's Creek, 1861[8]
Samuel F. Dupont, and officers, petty-officers, seamen, and marines under his commandFebruary 22, 1862Port Royal, 1861[9]
Officers, soldiers, and seamen of the army and navyFebruary 22, 1862General award[10]
Andrew H. Foote, and to the officers and men under his command in the Western FlotillaMarch 19, 1862Fort Henry and Fort Donelson, 1862[11]
David G. Farragut and officers and men under his commandJuly 11, 1862Forts Jackson & St. Philip, 1862[12]
Louis M. Goldsborough and officers, petty officers, seamen, and marines under his commandJuly 11, 1862Roanoake Island, 1862[13]
John L. Worden and crew of the USS MonitorJuly 11, 1862Hampton Roads, 1862[14]
Andrew H. FooteJuly 19, 1862Island No. Ten, 1862[15]
John L. WordenFebruary 3, 1863Hampton Roads, 1862[5]
Charles H. DavisFebruary 7, 1863Memphis, 1862[5]
John A. DahlgrenFebruary 7, 1863None[5][16]
Stephen C. RowanFebruary 7, 1863Battle of New Bern[5]
David D. PorterFebruary 7, 1863Arkansas Post, 1863[5]
Silas H. StringhamFebruary 7, 1863Forts Hatteras and Clark, 1861[5]
William S. Rosecrans, and the officers and men under his commandMarch 3, 1863Stones River, 1862–1863[17]
Ulysses S. Grant, and officers and men under his commandDecember 17, 1863"The Rebellion"[7][18]
John RodgersDecember 23, 1863Battle of Wassaw Sound[19]
Nathaniel P. Banks and officers and men under his commandJanuary 28, 1864Port Hudson, 1863[20]
Ambrose E. BurnsideJanuary 28, 1864Knoxville, 1863[21]
Joseph Hooker, Oliver O. Howard, George G. Meade, and the Army of the PotomacJanuary 28, 1864Gettysburg Campaign, 1863[22]
Cornelius VanderbiltJanuary 28, 1864None[7][23][24]
William T. Sherman, and the officers and soldiers under his commandFebruary 19, 1864Chattanooga, 1863[25]
Volunteer soldiers who have reenlistedMarch 3, 1864None[26]
Cadwalader Ringgold and the officers and crew of the USS SabineMarch 7, 1864rescue of the USS Governor, 1861 and USS Vermont, 1862 [27]
David D. PorterApril 19, 1864Vicksburg, 1863[28]
Joseph BaileyJune 4, 1864Red River Campaign, 1864[29]
William B. Cushing and the officers and men who assisted himDecember 20, 1864Sinking of the CSS Albemarle[6]
John A. Winslow and the officers and men under his command on board the USS KearsargeDecember 20, 1864Sinking the CSS Alabama, 1863[30]
William T. Sherman and officers and soldiers of his commandJanuary 19, 1865Atlanta Campaign and March to the Sea, 1864[31]
David D. Porter, and officers, petty officers, seamen, and marines under his commandJanuary 24, 1865Fort Fisher, 1865[32]
Alfred H. Terry, and the officers and men under his commandJanuary 24, 1865Fort Fisher, 1865[33]
Philip H. SheridanFebruary 9, 1865Cedar Creek, 1864[33]
George H. Thomas and army under his commandMarch 3, 1865Nashville, 1864[34]
David G. Farragut and the officers and men under his commandFebruary 10, 1866Mobile Bay, 1864[35]
Winfield S. HancockApril 21, 1866Gettysburg, 1863[36]

See alsoEdit

NotesEdit

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Heidler & Heidler 2002, p. 579
  2. Jenkins 1858, p. 319
  3. Brown 2006, p. 305
  4. Technically, enlisted men also received the award since most recognized the men under the officer or on board the ship named in the act.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 5.6 37 Pub. Res. 11; 12 Stat. 823
  6. 6.0 6.1 38 Pub. Res. 4; 13 Stat. 565
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 Stathis 2008 Also received Congressional Gold Medal
  8. 8.0 8.1 37 Pub. Res. 1; 12 Stat. 611
  9. 37 Pub. Res. 11; 12 Stat. 613
  10. 37 Pub. Res. 12; 12 Stat. 613
  11. 37 Pub. Res. 28; 12 Stat. 616
  12. 37 Pub. Res. 41;12 Stat. 622
  13. 37 Pub. Res. 39; 12 Stat. 621
  14. 37 Pub. Res. 42;12 Stat. 622
  15. 37 Pub. Res. 60; 12 Stat. 626
  16. Award text reads, "Distinguished service in his profession, improvements in ordinance, and zealous and efficient labors in the ordnance branch of the service."
  17. 37 Pub. Res. 29; 12 Stat. 827
  18. 38 Pub. Res. 1; 13 Stat. 399
  19. 38 Pub. Res. 2; 13 Stat. 399
  20. 38 Pub. Res. 7; 13 Stat. 401
  21. 38 Pub. Res. 8; 13 Stat. 401
  22. 38 Pub. Res. 9; 13 Stat. 401
  23. Gift of steamship
  24. 38 Pub. Res. 10; 13 Stat. 401
  25. 38 Pub. Res. 12; 13 Stat. 402
  26. 38 Pub. Res. 16; 13 Stat. 403
  27. 38 Pub. Res. 18; 13 Stat. 403
  28. 38 Pub. Res. 22; 13 Stat. 404
  29. 38 Pub. Res. 40; 13 Stat. 408
  30. 38 Pub. Res. 3; 13 Stat. 565
  31. 38 Pub. Res. 5; 13 Stat. 565
  32. 38 Pub. Res. 8; 13 Stat. 566
  33. 33.0 33.1 38 Pub. Res. 7; 13 Stat. 566
  34. 38 Pub. Res. 28; 13 Stat. 571
  35. 39 Pub. Res. 8; 14 Stat. 349
  36. 39 Pub. Res. 27; 14 Stat. 354

ReferencesEdit

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