|Date(s):||April 2, 1865|
|Location(s):||DINWIDDIE, Virginia | LEBANON, Pennsylvania|
|Tag(s):||War, Civil War, Medal of Honor|
|Course:||“Civil War and Reconstruction,” Juniata College|
|Rating:||5 (1 votes)|
In his official report on the final battle at Petersburg Captain R. Frank Hean of the 93rd Pennsylvania Infantry, wrote that the General Horatio Wright ordered the Union attack on "Battery Gregg," to begin at 4 a.m, on the morning of April 2, 1865. At the appointed hour, the Sixth Army Corp of the Army of the Potomac, charged forward and carried the enemy works. "In so doing," wrote Hean, "the enemy opened with artillery and infantry, causing the first two lines to waver, bringing all lines close to mass, with the third line (93rd) as a front, which as first to plant the colors upon the works."
Hean officially gave credit to a Corporal Jacob Renkenberger for "planting the first color upon the enemy's works." However, in the history of the regiment, written by Captain Penrose Mark, Sergeant Charles Marquette was given credit for the feat, and "was awarded a Medal of Honor by Congress for being one of the first to plant the colors on the breastworks."
According to Samuel Bates' History of Pennsylvania Volunteers, Charles Marquette was mustered into Perseverance Company 2, also known as Company F of the 93rd Pennsylvania regiment, on Oct 12, 1861. Marquette fought with the 93rd from their first engagement, which according to historian Richard Sauers occurred near Williamsburg on May 5, 1862, until he was mustered out of the company on June 27, 1865. Marquette entered the regiment as a private, but Bates noted that he was promoted to Corporal on May 5, 1864 and to Sergeant on January 3, 1865. According to Sauers, in the April 2 attack, Marquette carried a battle flag given to the Regiment by George Dawson Coleman "a Lebanon iron ore magnate," who "took a special interest in equipping the 93rd."
Mark wrote that Marquette "was painfully hurt while in the charge by coming in contact with the sharp point of the abatis." However, Marquette continued forward and planted the flag on the Confederate breastworks. According to Mark, "the boys of the 93rd who participated in the memorable charge, contended that the flag carried by Sergeant Marquart [sic] was the very first," out of all the regiments to be planted on the Confederate works, but several other regiments also claimed that honor. While Hean's official report does not give Marquette credit for planting the first flag upon the Confederate works, it is the first of three reports that credits Marquette "for capturing a rebel color while charging the enemy's works." Marquette is also mentioned for capturing a Confederate flag in two reports written by his division commander General George Getty.
Despite the conflicting accounts of Charles Marquette's actions in the attack, Sauer's wrote "On May 10, he was awarded the Medal of Honor for his courage." It is difficult to determine exactly what Marquette did on the morning of April 2, 1865, but it is likely that both stories have some truth to them. In fact Sauers gave him credit for planting the first flag on the enemy's works and capturing a Confederate flag. In light of the fact that Marquette was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions that day, it is probable that he did accomplish both things. Regardless of the reason he earned the Medal of Honor, on May 10, 1865 he became the first and only soldier from Lebanon County, Pennsylvania to earn the highest military award of the United States of America.