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The Scottish American History Club Newsletter
October 1997


The Congressional Medal of Honor

The Medal of Honor is the highest military award for bravery that can be given an individual in the United States of America. Conceived during the Civil War, it was first presented in 1863. “The event must be witnessed by at least two persons and it must be so outstanding that it clearly distinguished gallantry beyond the call of duty from lesser forms of bravery; it must involve the risk of life...”

On June 19, 1944, David McCampbell, attacking 80 Japanese planes, shot down 7 by himself. In a second battle October 24, 1944, McCampbell , with one other pilot, engaged a flight of 60 Japanese planes and shot down 9 before the enemy retreated. His actions won him the Navy Cross, Silver Star, Legion of Merit, distinguished Flying Cross with two gold stars and Air Medal, as well as the Congressional Medal of Honor.

The battle at Stone River, Tennessee, occurred on December 31, 1862. In the battle, a Chicago resident, Major John Farquhar of the 89th Illinois Volunteers, was awarded the Medal of Honor.

On May 22, 1863, an attempt was made to capture Vicksburg. The attempt failed to break the Confederate defenses, but four Scots won the Medal of Honor for gallantry: William Fraser, a private in Company A. 97th Ill. Vol. Inf. and David Dickie, a Scottish-born Sgt. of the same company; James Jardine, 54th Ohio Vol., and William Campbell, private 30th Ohio Vol. Inf.

Beginning with the Civil War through World War II, Americans of Scottish descent have fought in every major conflict. Medals of Honor were bestowed in every conflict except World War I. During the Civil War 24 native born Scots and 2 Ulster Scots received the Medal of Honor. Several of those who received the honor had Chicago and Illinois connections. A total of 38 persons of Scottish descent and three Ulster Scots have won the nation’s highest award.1

George Martin

George Martin came to the United States from Scotland and settled in Naperville, Illinois. He became wealthy building bricks, blocks and tiles needed to rebuild Chicago after the great fire of 1871. In 1883, he built a 17 room house in Naperville to celebrate his wealth.

The Victorian brick mansion features a full two-story bay , “a partial front porch with elaborate Eastlake spindle-work railings and columns, a small side entrance porch, and ornate wrought-iron cresting atop the roof line of both house and porch.”

Today the house is furnished entirely in the style of the 1880's Victorian. The furniture is made of dark wood and the wall coverings and draperies are in the heavy velvet of the times. The house is now owned by the Naperville Heritage Society and is located at 201 West Porter Avenue. The house is open to the public and additional information can be obtained by calling 630-420-6010. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.2

The Highland Guards

The Highland Guards were organized in Chicago, May 3, 1855. The members were “Scotchmen and their uniform was the Highland garb - kilts.” In 1859, when the Centennial celebration of the birth of Robert Burns was observed, the Highland Guards was the most picturesque division in the great parade. Their captain was John McArthur, who, at the end of the Civil War, would be a general, and later serve as president of the Illinois St. Andrew Society.

When the war began, the Guard was among the first to answer the call of Lincoln. They became Company E of the Nineteenth Illinois Volunteer Infantry and were soon at the front. “Thereafter their records is part of that of the splendid “Old Nineteenth.”

“One of this regiment’s exploits was at the battle of Murfreesboro, otherwise called Stone River. The fighting had been heavy and protracted. At a critical hour the Confederates had made vigorous and successful inroads on the Union left. The ‘Old Nineteenth’ by a magnificent charge, achieved glory on the field that day. The impending disaster was turned into complete victory. In the rain of shot and shell, the valiant Colonel Scott, commander of the Nineteenth, was so severely wounded that he died soon after.” He was one of the youngest colonels in the Union army.

“Men of Scotch birth and blood had no small or inconspicuous part in that history. We may but remind the student of our National chronicles of some of those whose achievements are known and read of all. We, therefore, need but recall the names of Grant, and Logan, and Rawlins, and McClernand, and David Hunter, and McNulta, and Owen and David Stuart, and McClurg, and Daniel Cameron and Beveridge - all Illinois men of Scotch nativity or ancestry, who served in our armies, and whose deeds are large parts of our State’s and Country’s history.”3

Tobacco Town

The year is 1690 and south of Annapolis, Maryland, along the South River, is one of America’s first trade centers. It was formed by Scottish immigrants and was frequented by “entrepreneur farmers” such as Thomas Jefferson and George Washington. The village may have contained more than 100 buildings and covered 100 acres. “It must have been quite a rowdy and booming place.”

A century later, London Town was deserted. “Jealous colonial settlers who ran the government in nearby Annapolis cut off its lifeline.” In a political decision, they moved the tobacco inspection station to Annapolis. The year was 1747.

Town remnants were discovered two years ago when historians were hired to refurbish an old brick building. Curious about the area they ran a search of state records and found the possibility of a trade center. Shortly thereafter they found the remains of Rumney’s Tavern, the social center of the town. The crew has now found dinner plates containing crude paintings of a mermaid, pocket knives and belt buckles from the era.

A nonprofit foundation now promotes the county-owned park as a tourist attraction..

Thanks to William Piper for the article from the Chicago Sun-Times, July 7, 1997.


Scots in the Revolutionary War

The following Scots served with Washington and were major generals at the time of their discharge: Henry Knox (Mass.); William Alexander (NJ); Alexander MacDougall (NY); and Arthur St. Clair (PA)

Of twenty-two brigadier generals, these were of Scottish blood: William Irvine (PA); Lachlan McIntosh (GA); John Paterson (MA); Charles Scott (VA); and John Stark (NH). Of English and Scottish descent, George & James Clinton (NY); Edward Hand (PA); and Anthony Wayne (PA) Other generals of Scottish blood during the Revolutionary War were: John Armstrong, Francis Barber, William Campbell, George Rogers Clark, William Davidson, John Douglas, James Ewing, Robert Lawson, Andrew Lewis, William Maxwell, Hugh Mercer, James Moore, John Nixon, James Porter, Joseph Reed and John Morin Scott.

Richard Montgomery, the first American general killed in the war was an Ulster-Scot. Dying with him was John Macpherson, Jr. of Philadelphia. Macpherson was 21 years old and a graduate of Princeton. His brother , General William Macpherson, was in the British army at the outbreak of the war but resigned his commission and joined the revolution. Their father, Captain John Macpherson, was born in Edinburgh and had served in the British navy. "The father and two sons were honored members of the Philadelphia St. Andrew’s Society.”

When Washington said farewell to his generals, the first to rush forward was an Ulster Scot, Henry Knox. Both friends wept as they parted. When Washington became president he made Knox a member of his first cabinet. “He was brilliant and impulsive and held the highest confidence of his chief.”

Brigadier-General Lachlan McIntosh (1727-1806) was born in Inverness, Scotland, and emigrated to the Scotch colony in Georgia. He was appointed commander-in-chief of the western department in 1778 by Washington and fought with great distinction throughout the war.4

The 79th Highlanders

The 79th was recruited from Scottish immigrants and Americans of Scottish descent and was formed in 1859. They took their designation of 79th Cameron Highlanders (New York Volunteers) in complement to the 79th Regiment of Foot, the Queen’s own Cameron Highlanders, raised in 1793 by Sir Alan Cameron of Erracht.

The dress uniform of the 79th was Highland. The Cameron-Erracht tartan, white sporran with two black tails, red and white diced hose with black flashes. The doublet was dark blue with light blue piped red collar and cuffs and gold trimmed shoulder straps. The buttons were New York State. The New York State Arms and the number 79 formed the cap badge on a dark blue glengarry with a red and white diced band. Fatigue dress was a blue tunic with tartan trews and blue kepi.

There is general disagreement about whether the 79th wore the kilt at Bull Run, but the Regiment served in some thirty engagements during the Civil War and was mustered out on June 14, 1865..

The above materials, including illustration of the uniform and copies of letters written during the Civil War have been in my personal files (Wayne Rethford) for several years. The source is not indicated except the author’s name, Edward Bland. The article is entitled “Facts and Incidents Connected With the 79th Highlanders Since the Battle of Bull Run, July 21, 1861.”

Hall of Fame

The Scottish-American Hall of Fame contains more plaques for the military than any other category. Twenty-one men are installed including Daniel Boone who is listed as an “Indian Fighter.” The list is as follows: George Rogers Clark, Frontier hero of the Revolutionary War; Stonewall Jackson; Joseph E. Johnston; Henry Knox; Arthur MacArthur, army general, father of Douglas MacArthur; George B. McClellan; Alexander Macomb, general and hero of the War of 1812; William (Billy) Mitchell, controversial air power advocate; William Moultrie; George S. Patton, WWII exponent of mobile warfare; Winfield Scott, Mexican War and Chief of staff; J.E.B. Stuart, Confederate cavalry general; Christopher “Kit” Carson, frontiersman and explorer; William Clark, explorer with Merriwether Lewis; Davy Crockett, frontiers-man who died at the Alamo.

Two individuals are listed under the category of “Naval.” They are David Glasgow Farragut, Civil War naval hero, and John Paul Jones, Revolutionary War naval hero.

The Hall of Fame now exists in book form and copies may be ordered by writing the Illinois St. Andrew Society, 2800 Des Plaines Avenue, North Riverside, IL 60546. The copies sell for $20.00 which includes postage and handling.

“When a nation goes down or a society perishes, one condition may always be found. 

 They forgot where they came from.”

 Carl Sandburg


    1.  Highlander Magazine, article by Jim Buchanan, date uncertain. Additional materials from Charles A. Edwards.

    2.  Guide to Historic Homes of the Midwest and Great Plains, Bob Vila

    3.  Scots and Scots’ Descendants in America, D. MacDougal

    4.  Thomas C. McMillan, M.A., L.L.D

Wayne Rethford, President Emeritus
Illinois Saint Andrew Society
Scottish-American History Club
2800 Des Plaines Avenue
North Riverside, IL 60546