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Army Medal of Honor

Medal of Honor Citation


Matthew S. Quay

[more about him]


Organization: 134th Pennsylvania Infantry

Entered Service: Beaver County, PA

Birth: 30 September 1833, Dillsburg, PA

Date Medal Issued: 9 July 1888

Date of Action: 13 December 1862

Place of Action: Fredericksburg, VA


Although out of service, he voluntarily resumed duty on the eve of battle and took a conspicuous part in the charge on the heights.

More about this award

He contracted typhoid fever at Falmouth, Va., opposite Fredericksburg, in the latter part of 1862. He was so broken down by the disease that his friends urged him to resign his commission and go home to recuperate. Colonel Quay finally applied for his discharge. General Tyler, handing him his papers, told him that he regretted his departure, particularly at this time, as they expected to go into action very soon. On hearing this Colonel Quay refused to accept the papers, and declared his intention of waiting for the battle. General Tyler told him, that he would be foolish to remain, in his broken state of health, and furthermore, that his discharge had been signed and he was a private citizen. The general said that if he went into the battle, he could surely not survive it, and all concurred in the advisability of his going home.

Colonel Quay put these kindly suggestions aside with an impatient gesture, and said: "I ll be in this battle, if I have to take a musket and fight as a private, for I would rather be killed in battle and be called a fool, than go home and be called a coward."

General Tyler, seeing that further argument would be useless, gave in, and made him an aide on his staff, in which capacity he fought all day and well into the night in the famous battle of Fredericksburg.
-- from Beyer & Keydel's Deeds of Valor; how America's Heroes Won the Medal of Honor (Vol. 1, 1901)


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