Which Medal of Honor winners were Berkshire residents?
On Memorial Day, we remember those who have served our country, especially the true heroes, performing “personal acts of valor above and beyond the call of duty” and winning our highest military award, the Medal of Honor (MOH). Of the millions of men and women serving, fewer than 3,500 received the MOH; just three were Berkshire-born.
Two heroes won the MOH in the Civil War. Corporal Francis E. Warren of Hinsdale was cited when he volunteered for a dangerous assault on a Confederate position at Port Hudson, Louisiana, in 1863. Lieutenant Colonel Henry V. Boynton, born in West Stockbridge, led a regimental attack at Missionary Ridge, Tennessee, in 1863 in spite of his own painful wounds. Warren went to Wyoming after the war, where he achieved success in business and politics, including election as governor. Boynton served in the Spanish American War as a Brigadier General.
In 1944 during World War II, Captain James M. Burt, a resident of Lee, commanding an armored unit near Wurselen, Germany, left the safety of his own tank and directed an attack on foot. Though seriously wounded himself, he repeatedly aided injured comrades. After serving, Burt lived a long life, working in industry and teaching.
Berkshire transplants to win the MOH include Pittsfield attorney Major Charles W. Whittlesey, who commanded the famed “Lost Battalion” of World War I, and Corporal Richard Welch, born in Ireland but enlisting in Williamstown, who won the MOH for heroic acts at Petersburg, Virginia, in the Civil War.