The house at 128 Mill Street in New Bedford, Massachusetts, was the home of Sergeant William H. Carney (1840-1908).Sergeant William H. Carney and his father, William H. Carney Sr., became the most well-known Norfolk fugitives in New Bedford. In 1857, William H. Carney Sr. escaped from Norfolk, Virginia and came to New Bedford.William H. Carney Jr. escaped to New Bedford in 1859.Here young Carney spent the greater part of the remainder of his life. On March 4, 1863, Carney, along with forty-six other blacks from New Bedford, enrolled in Company C of the Massachusetts 54th Regiment to take part in the Civil War. The Massachusetts 54th Regiment, instituted under Governor John A. Andrew in 1863, was the first black unit to be raised in the north. This regiment was shipped to South Carolina on May 18, 1863. Carney's action during the battle at Fort Wagner on July 18, 1863 earned him honorable recognition. He protected and displayed the flag throughout the battle after the standard bearer fell. When he returned the flag to the remaining members of his regiment he said: "Boys I only did my duty, the old flag never touched the ground." On May 23, 1900, Sergeant William H. Carney was finally recognized. He became the first African American to receive the Medal of Honor for his heroism during the Union assault on Fort Wagner. After his honorable discharge on June 30, 1864 he returned to New Bedford. He lived in the house at 128 Mill Street from 1870 until his death in 1908. New Bedford honors the memory of Carney in preserving his house.
Visitor Information: Currently open to public.
Location: 128 Mill St, New Bedford, Bristol, 02740
Contact Information: 508-998-1589 (main phone)
National Park Unit: No
Ownership: Gail Oliveira
Location Type: Site
Freedom Seekers: Sergeant William H. Carney,William H. Carney Sr