William Harvey Carney Fact 1: William Harvey Carney was of African-American descent and he was born on February 29, 1840 in Norfolk, Virginia in the United States.
William Harvey Carney Fact 2: William Harvey Carney was born into slavery. Nobody really knows how he managed to escape from slavery. It is thought that he may have escaped via the Underground Railroad in order to join his father in Massachusetts. However, existing records cannot confirm any facts regarding his escape.
William Harvey Carney Fact 3: The Underground Railroad, by which it is suggested that William Harvey Carney may have successfully escaped, was a secret network of safe houses and routes which was used to assist thousands of slaves to freedom. The secret routes led to Free states and Canada where slaves could live freely.
William Harvey Carney Fact 4: It is thought that other members of William Harvey Carney's family managed to escape freedom through being purchased or through the death of their slave owner.
William Harvey Carney Fact 5: The American Civil War began in 1861 and ended in 1865. The battle determined the survival of the Union or Independence for the Confederacy. The battle took many lives and injured many others, and in the end, slavery was abolished entirely.
William Harvey Carney Fact 6: During the American Civil War, William Harvey Carney served as an African-American soldier. In 1863, William Harvey Carney became a sergeant in the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry which was a regiment that was used extensively during the American Civil War.
William Harvey Carney Fact 7: William Harvey Carney took part in Fort Wagner which was the site of an American Civil War battles; one of the hardest beachhead battles against the defenses of Charleston.
William Harvey Carney Fact 8: William Harvey Carney was awarded a medal of honor following the attack on Fort Wagner. Although he suffered multiple wounds, William marched forward with the American flag following the wounding of the Colour Guard.
William Harvey Carney Fact 9: The Color Guard can be described as the detachment of soldiers who are assigned to the protection of regimental colors. Color sergeants are therefore assigned to protect the flag - hence William Harvey Carney being awarded a medal of honor.
William Harvey Carney Fact 10: The following quote from William Harvey Carney represented his thoughts upon his actions during the Fort Wagner battle: 'Boys, I only did my duty; the old flag never touched the ground.'
William Harvey Carney Fact 11: Due to the wounds that William Harvey Carney had sustained during the battle, he was given an honorable discharge in June 1864. An honorable discharge is only usually given if a member has received good to excellent for his service.
William Harvey Carney Fact 12: William Harvey Carney received his honor almost 37 years later following his efforts during Fort Wagner.
William Harvey Carney Fact 13: He is considered the first African-American to receive a medal of honor. Here is his citation: 'When the color sergeant was shot down, this soldier grasped the flag, led the way to the parapet, and planted the colors thereon. When the troops fell back William Harvey Carney brought off the flag, under a fierce fire in which he was twice severely wounded.'William Harvey Carney Fact 14: William Harvey Carney later married Susannah Williams and they went on to have one child, a daughter called Clara Heronia.
William Harvey Carney Fact 15: William Harvey Carney died on December 9, 1908 in New Bedford, Massachusetts in the United States. Various building have since been named in his honor following his death including an elementary school.
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