John H. Lawson, Medal of Honor Recipient

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Black and white photographic portrait of Medal of Honor recipient John H. Lawson, wearing medal, for service during the Civil War. Other medals worn by the sitter are the Navy Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) Medal and a GAR membership badge.
Lawson was awarded the Medal of Honor for his service during the Battle of Mobile Bay.
On August 5, 1864, Rear Admiral David Farragut commanded a Union fleet of fourteen wooden ships and four Monitors past Fort Morgan in Mobile Bay to attack the Confederate fleet positioned there. Farragut famously climbed the mast of the U.S.S. Hartford and had himself secured with ropes to better view the battle. Out of the Union Monitors, only the Tecumseh was lost in the Confederate minefield at the mouth of the bay. Once in position, Farragut’s ships engaged the Confederate flotilla and the formidable ironclad, C.S.S. Tennessee. Farragut was eventually successful in capturing the well-armored Tennessee and subsequently engaged Fort Gaines and Fort Powell through the month of August, eventually forcing Fort Morgan to surrender. The battle was considered an important Union victory, depriving the Confederacy of its last significant Gulf port east of Texas although the city of Mobile itself was not taken.
The inscription on the reverse states that Lawson served as a Landsman on the Hartford, adding that he "was one of the six men stationed at the shell-whip on the berthdeck. A shell killed or wounded the whole number. Lawson was wounded in the leg and thrown with great violence against the side of the ship; but, as soon as he recovered himself, although begged to go below, he refused, and went back to the shell-whip, where he remained during the action."
Official Citation:
Rank and organization: Landsman, U.S. Navy. Born: 1837, Pennsylvania. Accredited to: Pennsylvania. G.O. No.: 45, 31 December 1864. Citation: On board the flagship U.S.S. Hartford during successful attacks against Fort Morgan, rebel gunboats and the ram Tennessee in Mobile Bay on 5 August 1864. Wounded in the leg and thrown violently against the side of the ship when an enemy shell killed or wounded the 6-man crew as the shell whipped on the berth deck, Lawson, upon regaining his composure, promptly returned to his station and, although urged to go below for treatment, steadfastly continued his duties throughout the remainder of the action.
Physical Description
paper (overall material)
overall: 6 5/8 in x 4 3/8 in; 16.8275 cm x 11.1125 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Credit Line
Medal of Honor Legion of the United States of America
Medal of Honor
related event
Civil War
See more items in
Armed Forces History: Armed Forces History, Naval
Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient Portraits
Data Source
National Museum of American History


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