Sgt. William H Carney was The first African-American Medal of Honor recipient in the United States. William H Carney was one of the 88 Black members of the Armed forces to receive a medal of Honor out of the 3,498 men that were in. William H Carney received his medal from protecting the American Flag in the Civil War.

William Carney was born into slavery in the year 1840 in Norfolk Virginia. When his family was granted their freedom they moved to Massachusetts where Carney was involved and eager to learn academically. There were laws in place that banned blacks from learning how to read and write in the 1800’s. Carney wanted to pursue his career in the church but the Civil War broke out and so he decided that the best way to serve God was to serve in the Military to help free the oppressed.

In March of 1863, Carney joined the Army and was attached to the Company C, 54th Massachusetts Colored Infantry Regiment, the first official black unit recruited for the Union in the north. Two sons of famed abolitionist Frederick Douglass served in the same infantry with Carney along with forty other black men.

On July 18th, 1963 Carney’s regiment led the charge on Fort Wagner. During the battle, the units color Guards was shot. Carney was just a few feet away when he saw the falling guy and he stumbled to catch the flag. He suffered several bullet wounds himself but never gave up that flag until he planted it in the sand of fort Wagner. May 23, 1990, for his bravery he was awarded the medal of honor.

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