Ratcliff, Edward

ACTION: Chaffin's Farm (Fort Harrison), VA.

DATE: 29 September 1864.

NAME: Ratcliff, Edward.

RANK/UNIT: 1st Sergeant, Co. C, 38th U.S. Colored Troops.

CITATION: "Commanded and gallantly led his company after the commanding had been killed; was the first enlisted man to enter the enemy's works."

MEDAL PRESENTED: 6 April 1865.

BIOGRAPHICAL DATA: Born: James County, VA. 1835.

ENTERED SERVICE: Yorktown, VA. January 1, 1864.


OTHER: Ratcliff was a 29-year-old laborer when he enlisted for three years service in the U.S. Army. He stood five feet eleven inches tall. Private Ratcliff was transferred from Company I to Company C of the 38th U.S. Colored Troops and promoted to the rank of 1st Sergeant on February 1, 1864. For his gallantry at the battle of Fort Harrison he was promoted to Sergeant-Major on Decomber 24, 1864. Ratcliff was mustered out of service at Indianola, Texas on January 25, 1867.

Medal of Honor Recipients: 1863-1978, Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1979 , p. 197
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.


An order from Gen. Benjamin Butler, dated 11 October 1864, had this to say:

First Sergt. Edward Ratcliff, Company C, Thirty-eighth U.S. Colored Troops, thrown into command of his company by the death of the officer commanding, was the first enlisted man in the enemy's works, leading his company with great gallantry--for which he has a medal.

Official Records, #89, p168.

Last updated: February 26, 2015

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