Elihu Harlam Mason (March 23, 1831 – September 24, 1896) was a Union Army soldier in the American Civil War and a recipient of the United States military's highest decoration, the Medal of Honor, for his actions in the Great Locomotive Chase.

Elihu Harlam Mason
Head of a white man with a full beard and receding hairline, wearing a military jacket with large bright buttons.
Elihu H. Mason
Born(1831-03-23)March 23, 1831
Richmond, Indiana
DiedSeptember 24, 1896(1896-09-24) (aged 65)
Pemberville, Ohio
Place of burial
Pemberville Cemetery, Pemberville, Ohio
AllegianceUnited States United States of America
Service/branch United States Army
Union Army
Years of service1861 - 1865
Rank Captain
UnitOhio 21st Ohio Infantry
Battles/warsAmerican Civil War
 • Great Locomotive Chase
AwardsMedal of Honor



Mason joined the Army from Pemberville, Ohio in April 1861, and by April 1862 was serving as a sergeant in Company K of the 21st Ohio Infantry.[1] During that month, he volunteered for a raid into Confederate territory to disrupt rail transport in Georgia. The mission failed, and all of the raiders were captured. In June, eight of the men, including the raid leader, James J. Andrews, were executed as spies. The remaining raiders, including Mason, made an escape from the Confederate prison on October 16, 1862. Very ill at the time, Mason was unable to keep up with the other soldiers and, at his own urging, was eventually left behind and recaptured by the Confederates. He and five other recaptured raiders were released in a prisoner exchange the next year, on March 18.[2] For his actions during the mission, he was awarded the newly created Medal of Honor one week after being exchanged, on March 25, 1863. He was the fourth person ever to receive the medal.[1]

Mason later became a commissioned officer and reached the rank of captain. He fought in the Battle of Chickamauga where he was again captured by the Confederates. He was paroled in December 1864, and discharged in May 1865.[3]

After the war, Mason returned to Pemberville, Ohio. He died at age 65 and was buried at Pemberville Cemetery.[4]

Medal of Honor citation


Mason's official Medal of Honor citation reads:

One of the 19 of 22 men (including 2 civilians) who, by direction of Gen. Mitchell (or Buell), penetrated nearly 200 miles south into enemy territory and captured a railroad train at Big Shanty, Ga., in an attempt to destroy the bridges and track between Chattanooga and Atlanta.[1]

See also






  • "Civil War Medal of Honor recipients (M–Z)". Medal of Honor citations. United States Army Center of Military History. August 3, 2009. Archived from the original on February 23, 2009. Retrieved May 2, 2010.
  • Pittenger, William (1887). Daring and suffering: a history of the Andrews Railroad Raid into Georgia in 1862 ... New York: The War Publishing Co. p. A4. Retrieved May 2, 2010.
  • "Elihu H. Mason (1831 - 1896)". Find a Grave. January 21, 2001. Retrieved May 2, 2010.