Valor Friday

| July 22, 2022

Major General George Lewis Gillespie

Family duties have me away from the keyboard more than normal as of late. Therefore I have to phone in this week’s Valor Friday post. I’ve stumbled across an article that does General Gillespie as much justice as I could do myself.

Gillespie earned the Medal of Honor for heroics in carrying dispatches through heavy fire during the Civil War. During his ride he was captured, escape, was surrounded and nearly captured again, and escaped once more. True gallantry in action. He made the Army a career for the next 38 years, rising to the rank of Major General. Along the way he redesigned the Medal of Honor. After the Civil War, the Grand Army of the Republic (a Union veterans organization) used a similar looking medal to the Medal of Honor for their membership badge. Gillespie’s 1904 revision of the Army MoH removed such confusion.

The United States Patent and Trademark Office has the story;

On May 31, 1864, George Gillespie Jr. escaped capture twice while he dashed through enemy lines under fire, carrying vital information from a commanding officer. This courageous act placed Gillespie in one of the most exclusive groups in American history: recipients of the Medal of Honor. Forty years after serving in the U.S. Army during the American Civil War, Gillespie led the effort to update the medal’s appearance. His design, which he patented in 1904, soon took center stage in a national conversation about the value and meaning of the medal, today this country’s highest honor for acts of valor in combat.

Gillespie was born in Kingston, Tennessee, on October 7, 1841, to George Lewis and Margaret Gillespie. Young George was one of at least four children, supported by his father’s earnings as a merchant and a farmer and his mother’s labor in the home. Little is known about Gillespie until he entered the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1858.

Much, much more at the source. They also include a lot of pictures of period pieces to help tell the story.

Category: Army, Historical, Medal of Honor, Valor, We Remember

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Interesting read on the linky there, Mason. Particularly the part about the original design that incorporated the “crushing of the South”. Not too many folks know that little tidbit. “…ambitious abroad and despotic at home.” Just as many don’t know that in the past, one could nominate themselves for the Award. “…under the qualifications at the time…” Food for thought that ties into the other MoH Thread.



“The Battle of Cold Harbor marked the end of the Overland Campaign as Ulysses S. Grant launched numerous assaults against Confederate lines protecting Richmond under Robert E. Lee. The battle saw its heaviest fighting on June 3, 1864. Cold Harbor became one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War and forced Grant to move his forces south to Petersburg for a long siege.”


“Cold Harbor: The Union Attack on June 1st”

“Park Ranger and historian Mike Gorman gives insight on the often overlooked fighting at Cold Harbor on June 1, 1864 on a piece of land that the American Battlefield Trust is currently working to save.”


Grant lost more men during his overland campaign than Lee had in his entire ANV. Many of them were former Heavy Artillery Troops that had been pulled from the forts around DC and made into instant infantrymen. That’s where Grant’s new moniker of “The Butcher” came from. Upwards of 8K casualties in less than 18 minutes during the Cold Harbor Assault. The massive influx of immigrants pulled straight from the boats in NY is the only thing that replentished Grants ranks. The Cold Harbor assaults would’ve ended it all if the 2 Corps that made that attack had of been properly supported…and led.


Thank You, Mason, for sharing another very interesting Story Of Valor!

George Lewis Gillespie, Jr.

Southern Born and a West Point Graduate.


That is interesting. If you’d have asked me I would have guessed a much different number.