U.S. Civil War Colored Troops Medal

U.S. Civil War Colored Troops Medal

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During the American Civil War, Gen. Benjamin F. Butler so appreciated the heroic actions of African American soldiers under his command at the 1864 battles of Fort Harrison and Fort Gilmer that he commissioned a special medal for them. Designed by Anthony C. Paquet and realized in silver by Tiffany, the U.S. Colored Troops medal had no official status. After General Butler was relieved of his command in 1865, the 300 U.S. Colored Troops who had received the medals were forbidden to wear them on their uniforms.
Currently not on view
Object Name
Butler, Benjamin Franklin
Tiffany & Co.
Physical Description
cotton (overall material)
siver (overall material)
overall: 53 cm x 3.8 cm; 20 7/8 in x 1 1/2 in
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Credit Line
James Parton
Civil War
Battle of Fort Harrison
Battle of Fort Gilmer
See more items in
Political and Military History: Armed Forces History, Military
Cultures & Communities
Coins, Currency and Medals
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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1) Why was General Butler relieved of his command in 1865. 2) Of the 300 U.S. Colored Troops who had received the medals ow many are still around. 3) Why were they forbidden to wear them on their uniforms. 4) Did Anthony C. Paquet ever design anything else? 5) What purpose did the metal serve and was it every recognized?
General Butler was relieved of his command by General Grant because of a failure to perform a frontal attack on Fort Fisher. General Butler had planned an attack on the fort using explosives similar to the mine at Petersburg. Grant interfered with the plan and caused its failure. Butler called off the attack because of explosion malfunction. Published pictures of the medal are of a different design manufactured in Boston. The medals were not approved by President Lincoln so they could not be worn on their uniforms. However there is a picture of Christian Fleetwood wearing his Butler Medal on his uniform next to his Congressional Medal of Honor. It appears to be the Boston design. The original Tiffany design appears to be a lot more expensive than the Boston design. Tiffany medals are numbered and labeled by Tiffany. Butler Medals are very rare, and only a few exist in museums such as the Smithsonian. I believe that they were not very popular and were melted down for their silver. The Tiffany Butler Medal are heavy, made of silver and appear to match Butler’s engraving more than the Smithsonian Boston medals that were given to soldiers.

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