Organization: Company E, 9th New York Infantry
Entered Service: New York, N.Y.
Date Medal Issued: 2 April 1898.
Date of Action: 17 September 1862.
Place of Action: Antietam, Md.
In the advance on the enemy and after his color bearer and the entire color guard of 8 men had been shot down, this officer seized the regimental flag and with conspicuous gallantry carried it to the extreme front, urging the line forward.
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"... Ahead of the thinning Federal line [of Burnside's IX Corps], across 500 yards of open meadow, Georgians and South Carolinians of Brigadier General Thomas F. Drayton"s brigade awaited the oncoming Yankees from the shelter of a low stone Wall."
"When the Ninth New York had approached to within 200 yards of the Rebel position at the stone wall, Lieutenant Colonel Kimball shouted the command 'Double quick, charge!' A deadly volley blazed out from the muskets of Drayton"s Confederates, and at such close range the destruction in the Zouave ranks was terrible. Scores of men 'fell on top of one another,' Private Wright recalled, while Lieutenant Graham, his right leg shattered at the knee, noted 'We all went down together.' Struggling to rise, Graham discovered that the Color Guard had been obliterated, and the regimental flags lay on the ground. 'One or two men staggered to their feet and reached for the colors,' the officer remembered, 'but were shot down at once.' Suddenly Captain Adolphe Libaire, the 22 year old French-born commander of Company E -- the Zouaves" Color Company -- dashed forward and snatched up the fallen regimental banner."
"According to Lieutenant Homer, Libaire was habitually 'quiet, modest and unassuming.' But rising to the crisis, the soft-spoken Captain was a man possessed. Raising the flag, Libaire waved it over his head and yelled, 'Up, damn you, and forward!' -- then sprinted for the wall. 'That 'Forward', I for one will never forget while I live,' Zouave William Cockefair wrote 35 years later; 'all he required was that we follow him. He showed the way.' It was a deed that would later earn the young Frenchman the Medal of Honor."
"Awed by Libaire"s desperate act of gallantry, the New Yorkers regained their momentum. Captain Lawrence Leahy raised the other banner, and followed Libaire, as did Lieutenant Colonel Kimball, Adjutant Homer, and First Lieutenant Robert McKechnie of Company H -- all shouting 'Forward!' With their flags and surviving officers at the very apex of the charge, the Zouaves surged ahead to the wall, forcing Drayton"s troops from the corpse-strewn breastwork."
More on the Web
See a dramatic painting of the charge, and description quoted above, from Keith Rocco.