Civil War Campaign Medal

Civil War Campaign Medal

Army & Navy Civil War Campaign Medals
Awarded by Department of the Army
Department of the Navy
Type Campaign medal
Eligibility Service in the American Civil War between 1861 and 1865
Status Obsolete

Ribbon, Union campaign streamer, & Confederate campaign streamer

The Civil War Campaign Medal is considered the first campaign service medal of the United States military. The decoration was awarded to members of the United States military who had served in the American Civil War between 1861 and 1865.


The medal was first authorized in 1905 for the fortieth anniversary of the Civil War's conclusion. The blue and gray ribbon denotes the respective uniform colors of the U.S. and Confederate troops. The Army Civil War Campaign Medal was established by the United States War Department on January 21, 1907, by General Orders Number 12. To qualify, a soldier had to serve between April 15, 1861, and April 9, 1865. The award was intended for both Union and Confederate soldiers. When it was discovered that medal qualifications included the words Active Federal Military Service, the Congressional Act of 1945 had those words removed.[1] In the US Army, Units with Confederate lineage use campaign streamers with the Gray edge up and Units with Union lineage use campaign streamers with the blue edge up. The campaign lettering requires two distinct sets of streamers for each campaign, one set for each side.[2] The closing date was extended to August 20, 1866, date of President Johnson's Proclamation ending the war. The corresponding Navy Civil War Medal was established on June 27, 1908, by Navy Department.[3]

The obverse of the Army Civil War Campaign Medal displayed an engraved image of Abraham Lincoln while the Navy and Marine Corps versions depicted the USS Monitor and CSS Virginia's battle at Hampton Roads. The reverse has the words "The Civil War 1861-1865" encircled by a wreath. The medal was designed by Francis D. Millet, a noted sculptor who perished on the RMS Titanic in 1912. The medal was struck at the Philadelphia Mint. Civil War Campaign Medal No. 1 was issued to Maj. Gen. Charles F. Humphrey on May 26, 1909.

The medal was originally established as a badge, because Congress would not approve a medal due to the costs involved. The War Department was authorized to create badges, so it did. This interest was due in large part to the fact that several senior military officers were veterans of the Civil War. Gen Joseph Wheeler, was a senior US Army officer, who had also served as a Confederate General in the Civil War. As a former senior commander of President Theodore Roosevelt and his Rough Riders during the Spanish–American War, he had some influence along with his past assignment with the US Army Headquarters. In 1918, for those who had been cited for gallantry in action, the Silver Citation Star was authorized as a device to the medal. Only six Citation Stars were awarded.

There is a direct relationship between US campaign streamers and the medal that a campaign represents. The streamer represents the unit's participation in a campaign and the medal represents an individual's participation in that campaign (US Army – some differences for the US Navy). When a campaign is established, participating unit's are authorized a streamer and each service member assigned to the unit during that same time is authorized the medal. Sometimes these medals are campaign medals, other times they are service medals, but that streamer/medal relationship normally remains.[4]

Although some recipients may have worn some form of the ribbon, the monies necessary to mint and issue the medal were not appropriated by Congress until 1956 – 91 years after the war ended. It was this act that provided US Government purchase for the medal to all qualified veterans, whether they were on active or inactive duty.[5]

One of the most famous recipients of the Civil War Campaign Medal was Lieutenant General Arthur MacArthur, Jr., father of General of the Army Douglas MacArthur. Another was Major General Joseph Wheeler, also a former Lieutenant General in the CSA.

Units in the U.S. Army and Confederate Army that trace their heritage and lineage to the Civil War are entitled to display a battle streamer for the Civil War on their flagpoles. This streamer is half blue and half gray, the color theme of the second ribbon design.



In the center of a bronze medallion one and a quarter inches in diameter, the head of Lincoln surrounded by the raised inscription, WITH MALICE TOWARD NONE WITH CHARITY FOR ALL.

According to designer Francis Millet, "The head of Lincoln was selected because it is the only thing which can be used on the medal without offense to the sentiment now happily prevailing over the whole country in regard to the Civil War, and the portrait of Lincoln must be acceptable to everybody, particularly when accompanied by the noble phrase which so tersely and accurately expresses his attitude during the war."


In the center of a bronze medallion one and a quarter inches in diameter, the words THE CIVIL WAR over a bar, under which appear the dates 1861-1865; this central theme is surrounded by a wreath composed of a branch of oak on the left and a branch of laurel on the right, joined at the base by a bow. The oak represents the strength of the Union and the laurel represents victory.


The Silver Citation Star, a five-pointed star three-sixteenths of an inch in diameter, was authorized as a device to accompany the medal and ribbon. However, only six Silver Citation Stars were retroactively authorized for gallantry in action during the Civil War. They were awarded to the following individuals:


  1. Act of Congress, 9 March 1945 [C.104, PL 80-437; 62 Stat.71]
  2. Army Regulation 600-8-22, Military Awards dtd 22 Feb 1995 and specific promulgating general orders identify each of those campaigns for the US Army.
  3. Navy History Civil War Campaign Medal
  4. Army Regulation 600-8-22, Military Awards dtd 22 Feb 1995 and specific promulgating general orders identify each of those campaigns for the US Army.
  5. Act of Congress, 10 August 1956, Section 33, (10 USC 3751)
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Civil War Campaign Medal.
This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 8/16/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.