Biden awards posthumous Medal of Honor to two Civil War heroes

By Andrea Shalal

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -President Joe Biden awarded the Medal of Honor on Wednesday to two late U.S. Army privates who were part of a daring Union Army contingent that stole a Confederate train during the Civil War.

The White House ceremony offered Biden a brief respite from the mounting criticism of some fellow Democrats after his shaky and halting performance in last week’s presidential debate against Republican former President Donald Trump.

Philip Shadrach and George Wilson were honored posthumously during a White House ceremony that recognized their “gallantry and intrepidity” during what became known as the Great Locomotive Chase, one of the earliest special operations in U.S. Army history, according to the White House.

Biden read remarks honoring the men’s actions from a teleprompter and made no noticeable errors in delivery. His son, Hunter Biden, was in the audience.

The Civil War operation took place 200 miles (322 km) behind Confederate lines on April 12, 1862. Union soldiers dressed as civilians commandeered a train and drove it north toward Chattanooga, Tennessee, placing explosives on the track behind them to destroy Confederate infrastructure.

Six of those participants became the Army’s first recipients of the then-newly created Medal of Honor. Shadrach and Wilson were both hanged for their actions after being captured. They were not previously given presidential honors.

“Today, we right that wrong,” Biden said. “Today, they finally receive the recognition they deserve.”

The Medal of Honor is awarded to military servicemembers who distinguish themselves at the risk of their own lives.

(Reporting by Andrea Shalal; additional reporting by Steve Holland; editing by Trevor Hunnicutt)






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