Daniel Butterfield's Medal of Honor

Grade Range: 5-12
Resource Type(s): Artifacts, Primary Sources
Date Posted: 12/23/2010

1896 Pattern Medal of Honor awarded to Daniel Butterfield, “for distinguished gallantry in action at Gaines Mills, Va. June 27, 1862”

Perhaps best known as the composer of the bugle call "Taps," Daniel Butterfield began his Civil War service as a sergeant in the Washington, D.C., militia. Two weeks later he transferred to the 12th New York Militia as a colonel. He was commissioned brigadier and major general of the Volunteers and he commanded a division of the 5th Corps. He fought at the First Battle of Bull Run on July 21, 1861. Butterfield was wounded at the Battle of Gaines' Mill, during the Peninsular Campaign; it was also at Gaines' Mill where he seized the flag of the 3rd Pennsylvania and rallied the troops, an act which eventually earned him a Medal of Honor. Butterfield later commanded successfully at Second Bull Run and Antietam, and also saw action at Chancellorsville and Gettysburg. During those campaigns he served as chief of staff, Army of the Potomac.

Butterfield is also credited with designing the system of corps badges, an idea which began with Major General Philip Kearney's order to his troops to sew a two-inch patch of red fabric to their hats in order to identify each other during the confusion of battle.

Use this Investigation Sheet to guide students through describing the object and analyzing its meaning.

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