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Federal (USA)


James Fegan

(c. 1827 - 1886)

Home State: New York

Branch of Service: Infantry

Unit: 2nd and 10th United States Infantry

Before Antietam

A former member of the Irish Constabulary, he came to New York City from Liverpool in February 1850 aboard the packet-ship DeWitt Clinton. On 29 October 1851, then a 24 year old laborer, he enlisted in New York in Company I, 2nd United States Infantry. He reenlisted in August 1856 at Ft. Randall, Nebraska Territory as a Sergeant, and again at Ft. Abercrombie, Wyoming Territory on 1 July 1861.

On the Campaign

He was wounded by a gunshot to his right leg, probably in action near the Middle Bridge at Antietam on 17 September 1862.

The rest of the War

He was treated at a US Army hospital in Frederick, MD from 22 to 27 September 1862 then sent on to Washington, DC. On 31 March 1864 he reenlisted at Ft. Columbus, NY and transferred to Company C, 3rd US Infantry.

After the War

He was discharged on 31 March 1867 at Fort Hays, KS and reenlisted yet again. He was later awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions at Plum Creek, KS in March 1868:

While in charge of a powder train en route from Fort Harker to Fort Dodge, Kansas, was attacked by a party of desperadoes, who attempted to rescue a deserter in his charge and to fire the train. Sgt. Fegan, singlehandedly, repelled the attacking party, wounding two of them, and brought his train through in safety.
He reenlisted again, at Ft. Leavenworth, KS on 13 August 1873, at Ft. Missoula, MT in August 1878, and, for the last time, on 13 August 1883 at Ft. Missoula. He finally retired on 7 May 1885, a Sergeant in the 3rd US Infantry with about 35 years' service.

References & notes

His wound and hospital information from the Patient List,1 as James Fagan. His service from the Register,2 also sometimes as Fagan. His gravesite is on Findagrave.

His son James Fegan, Jr. was also a Sergeant in the 3rd US Infantry.

More on the Web

See much more about Sergeant Fegan, his family, and his career in an excellent post by Damian Shield on his Irish in the American Civil War site; he's my source for many of the personal details here and the pointer to his Medal of Honor.

There's a fine painting of the packet-ship DeWitt Clinton on the blog.


c. 1827; Athlone, IRELAND


06/25/1886; Ft. Shaw, MT; burial in Custer National Cemetery, Crow Agency, MT


1   National Museum of Civil War Medicine, and Terry Reimer, Frederick Patient List, Published 2018, first accessed 17 September 2018, <>, Source page: patient #212  [AotW citation 26423]

2   US Army, Registers of Enlistments in the United States Army, 1798-1914, Washington, DC: National Archives, 1956, Vol. 49, pg. 85; Vol. 55, pg. 45; Vol. 147, pg. 266; etc.  [AotW citation 26424]