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Carrying The Colors: The Life and Legacy of Medal of Honor Recipient Andrew Jackson Smith

Tuesday, May 11
Starts at 7:00 PM

McLean County Museum of History
200 N. Main St, Bloomington IL 61701

Carrying The Colors:  The Life and Legacy of Medal of Honor Recipient  Andrew Jackson Smith

The Museum is pleased to host Sharon MacDonald and Robert Beckman, authors of the book Carrying the Colors, and Greg Koos, historian and Emeritus Executive Director of the Museum, for a program exploring the story of Andrew Jackson Smith, who escaped bondage and fought for the Union Army. On Tuesday, May 11 at 7:00 p.m., this Zoom webinar will discuss his significant connections to central Illinois and how his wartime heroism was finally recognized with the nation’s highest honor, the Medal of Honor, in 2001.

In 1862, Andrew “Andy” Jackson Smith, son of a white landowner and enslaved woman, escaped to Union troops operating in Kentucky, made his way to the North, and volunteered for the 55th Massachusetts, one of the newly formed African American regiments. The regiment was deployed to South Carolina, and during a desperate assault on a Confederate battery, the color bearer was killed. Before the flag was lost, Smith quickly retrieved it and under heavy fire held the colors steady while the decimated regiment withdrew. The regiment’s commanding officer pro­moted Smith to color sergeant and wrote him a commendation for both saving the regimental flag and bravery under fire. Honorably discharged, Smith returned to Kentucky, where over the course of the next forty years he invested in land.

In the early twentieth century, Burt G. Wilder, medical officer of the 55th, contacted Smith about his experiences for a book he was writing. During their correspondence, Wilder realized Smith was eligible for the nation’s highest award. In 1916, Wilder applied to the army, but his request for Smith’s medal was denied due to the “absence of records.” At Smith’s death in 1932, his daughter Caruth received a box of his papers revealing the extent of her father’s heroism. Her nephew took up the cause and through long and painstaking research located the lost records. With the help of the authors (historians Sharon MacDonald and W. Robert Beckman), local politicians, and others, Andrew Jackson Smith received his long overdue Medal of Honor in 2001 after obtaining the reversal of the denial of his recommendation for the Medal of Honor.

Copies of this book can be purchased at Barnes and Noble, or online through Amazon or Westholme Publishing. To register for this free, zoom webinar, please visit https://bit.ly/3282CTa. Questions? Contact the Education Department at education@mchistory.org.