Trailheads #300

Yes, campers. This right here is the 300th Trailheads post. When the blog debuted in August of 2009, I'm not sure anyone foresaw the dozens of you who would be reading 5 years later. Thanks for your ongoing support.

Tuesday, Nov. 11, is Veterans Day, a time for us to say "thank you" to all who have served our country. Most sites on the Trails of History will be closed, but there are a few that will be open (find the list of open sites here.)

Today's post comes courtesy of Linda Bolla at the Erie Maritime Museum, who happens to be the most frequent guest blogger on Trailheads. Last year, the Erie Maritime Museum mounted an exhibit for Charter Day that focused on several Civil War Medal of Honor recipients with ties to Erie. In addition to documenting their history, the folks in Erie have also been working to make sure that the graves of these men are properly marked.

William H. Young (1835-1878)

William Young began his naval career on the U.S.S. Constitution ("Old Ironsides"), enlisting in 1852 at the age of 17. He saw service on a number of vessels, most notably U.S.S. Portsmouth, cruising off the coast of Africa to suppress traffic in the slave trade. On September 21, 1859, Portsmouth seized the slave ship Emily. During the Civil War, Young served on U.S.S. Cayuga as a Boatswain’s Mate.

The citation for Young's Medal of Honor reads:
On board the USS Cayuga during the capture of Forts St. Philip and Jackson and the taking of New Orleans, 24 and 25 April 1862. As his ship led the advance column toward the barrier and both forts opened fire simultaneously, striking the vessel from stem to stern, Young calmly manned a parrot gun throughout the action in which attempts by three rebel steamers to butt and board were thwarted and the ships driven off or captured, 11 gunboats were successfully engaged and garrisons forced to surrender. During the battle, the Cayuga sustained 46 hits.

Young's final years as a sailor (1872-76) were spent on the Navy’s first Iron Steamer, U.S.S. Michigan, as Bugler. (Erie was homeport to U.S.S. Michigan, which was later renamed U.S.S. Wolverine; the ship's prow is on exhibit at the museum, along with other artifacts from its history.) Never married, he retired to the Pennsylvania Soldiers & Sailors Home in Erie, where he died on December 26, 1878, at age 42. His funeral was attended by fellow Civil War veterans, Post 67, G.A.R., and he was buried at Erie Cemetery with a headstone-style marker provided by the U.S. Navy for $7.

Original marker for William H. Young
For years, Young’s gravesite was listed as “unknown” in official publications. The Erie Maritime Museum and Erie Cemetery researched and facilitated Medal of Honor researcher Don Morfe’s application to the Department of Veterans Affairs for a new grave marker for William Young. Time had taken its toll on the original marker, and it did not mention Young’s Medal of Honor.

The application was suspended for several years. The Veterans Administration had placed a moratorium on applications made by parties other than family. Finally, the National Medal of Honor Foundation stepped in and provided a donor, and the marker was placed.

The Erie Maritime Museum, Flagship Niagara League, and the Erie Cemetery will honor William Young for his service and formally dedicate this marker in a solemn service on Tuesday, November 11, 2014, at 3:00 p.m.


Post a Comment