Gillmore Medal

The Gillmore Medal is a military decoration of the United States Army which was first issued on October 28, 1863. The medal is named after Maj. Gen. Quincy A. Gillmore who commanded Union troops attempting to seize Fort Wagner in 1863 during the American Civil War.

Gillmore Medal
Gillmore Medal, front and back
Gillmore Medal, front and back
Awarded by Department of War

Also called the Fort Sumter Medal, the Gillmore Medal commemorates the men who served in the fighting around Charleston, South Carolina, in 1863 and was presented to all Union soldiers who had served under General Gillmore’s command. The medal was pinned to the front of a military jacket from a swivel with no attached ribbon.

Since the Gillmore Medal was issued on the local authority of General Gillmore, it was considered an unofficial decoration by the United States Army, but was permitted for wear on a military uniform. In 1905, with the creation of the Civil War Campaign Medal, the Gillmore Medal was declared obsolete.

One such medal was awarded to Albert York (commanding Co. I, 100th New York Volunteer Infantry) for Gallant and Meritorious Conduct for his participation in the Battle of Morris Island in April 1863. These medals are extremely rare because they are usually coveted by the living heirs and rarely come up for sale.

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Published: March 30, 1864

From the Palmetto Herald.

The Hilton Head and Beaufort papers of March 24, have the following items:

It will be remembered that after the reduction of Fort Wagner and the demolition of Fort Sumter, last Fall, Gen. GILLMORE announced that medals of honor would be presented to such enlisted men as had especially distinguished themselves by gallant conduct during the siege. They have been struck, and samples are already here, though the entire number will scarcely be ready for delivery sooner than two or three weeks. There are about five hundred candidates (500) for the honor, each of whom will have his name neatly engraved on the buckle to which the medal is attached. The medal itself is of bronze, about the size of the silver dollar of blessed memory, and bears upon its obverse in bold relief, a very accurate representation of Fort Sumter at the termination of the first bombardment, taken from an original drawing by Mr. W.T. CRANE, with the legend "Fort Sumter, Aug. 23, 1863," the whole encircled by a border of stars. Upon the reverse in this inscription, in raised letters: "For gallant and meritorious conduct. Presented by Q.A. GILLMORE, Major-General." The name of Gen. GILLMORE is a fac simile of his autograph. The medals are beautiful in design, and are very neatly and carefully made. They come from the establishment of BALL, BLACK & Co., New-York City.

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Gillmore Medal in the Staten Island Historical Society Online Collections Database