ACTION: Chaffin's Farm (Fort Harrison), VA.
DATE: 29 September 1864.
NAME: Fleetwood, Christian Abraham
RANK/UNIT: Sergeant Major, 4th U.S. Colored Troops.
CITATION: "Seized the colors, after two color bearers had been shot down, and bore them nobly through the fight."
MEDAL PRESENTED: 6 April 1865
BIOGRAPHICAL DATA: Born: Baltimore, MD. 1840.
ENTERED SERVICE: Baltimore, MD. 11 August 1863.
OTHER: Christian Fleetwood was a 23-year-old clerk when he enlisted in the U.S. Army. He stood 5'4 and 1/2" tall. He was promoted to the rank of Sergeant Major on August 19, 1863. Fleetwood described the act which won him the Medal of Honor citation as follows, "Saved the regimental colors after eleven of the twelve color guards had been shot down around it."
The rank of Sergeant Major was at the time the highest rank a black soldier could attain in the U.S. Army.
Medal of Honor Recipients: 1863-1978, Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1979. p. 88
Mitchell, Joseph B. Lt. Col., The Badge of Gallantry, New York: MacMillian & Co., 1986 pp. 139-40
Deffield, A.M., Deeds of Valor, 2 vols. Detroit: Perrien-Keyel Co., 1907. pp. 434-5
Mulholland, St. Claire A., Military Order Congress Medal Of Honor Legion of the United States, Philadelphia: Town Printing Co., 1905 p. 517
Bearss, Edwin C., "Black Medals of Honor Received a New Market Heights, 29 September 1864." National park Service Memo in Richmond NBP files, 2 April 1979.
Davis, William C., Death in the Trenches: Grant at Petersburg. Alexandria, VA Time-Life books, 1986. p. 125.
Christian Fleetwood rose to the rank of sergeant-major and received the Congressional Medal of Honor. He gives an account of the African American soldier from the Revolutionary War to the Civil War to show his suitability for military service, with concentration on the Civil War. He cites instances of valor and testimonials thereto, statistics on black enlistments by state and on casualties, and lists African Americans who received the Congressional Medal of Honor.
An order from Gen. Benjamin Butler, dated 11 October 1864, had this to say:
Christian A. Fleetwood, sergeant-major, Fourth U.S. Colored Troops, when two color bearers had been shot down, seized the national colors and bore them nobly through the fight. He has a special medal for gallant conduct.
Official Records, #89, p169
Fleetwood wrote and spoke often about the charge at New Market Heights after the war. Here is one of his writings.
See Fleetwood's diary from September 28-30, 1864.
Read an account of the terrain at New Market Heights in Fleetwood's writing
Read a brief biography of Christian Fleetwood
Letter from Fleetwood concerning treatment of blacks in the military, and a short history of the 4th USCT