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The Battle at Chaffin's Farm (New Market Heights)

Everyone knows Lexington and Concord. Gettysburg and Valley Forge appear in every history book. But there were so many important and interesting battles that shaped our country and our nation's character that get little attention. One such battle was the Battle at Chaffin's Farm that occurred on September 29th and 30th, 1864.

Although Montgomery, Alabama was the capital for a few weeks, once Virginia seceded Richmond became the capital of the Confederacy. Permanent defenses were constructed around the city and by 1864, Confederate engineers and slave laborers had built fortifications south of the capital on the James River at Chaffin's Farm. This outer line of defenses was supported by a series of fortifications closer to Richmond.

In August 1864, Lt. General Ulysses S. Grant would begin attacking the lines north and south of the James River to test the fortifications. In late September, Grant started a dual offensive which was part of what historians call the Richmond-Petersburg Campaign. His objective was to cut the railroad supply lines to the south of Petersburg, which would likely lead to the fall of Petersburg and Richmond. The battle to sever the South Side Railroad was an operation that the Army of the Potomac would successfully accomplish after the Battle at Chaffin's Farm, in another famous battle, the Battle of Peebles Farm. Hoping to distract Robert E. Lee and draw Confederate troops north of the river, Grant ordered the Army of the James under Maj. Gen. Benjamin E. Butler to attack toward Richmond.

This battle was especially important for The Colored Troops. According to NPS.gov, "the Battle of New Market Heights (aka Chaffin's Farm) became one of the most heroic engagements involving African Americans. The Colored Troops division of the Eighteenth Corps, after being pinned down by Confederate artillery fire for about 30 minutes, charged the earthworks and rushed up the slopes of the heights. During the hour-long engagement the division suffered tremendous casualties. Of the sixteen African Americans who were awarded the Medal of Honor during the Civil War, fourteen received the honor as a result of their actions." Several of these men had taken charge of their units after all the white commanders had fallen. Soldiers of distinction were also given the Army of the James or "Butler" medal. Gen. Benjamin Butler was a "champion of the black troops" and it is the only medal created solely for the United States Colored Troops.

Battle of Chaffin's Farm/New Market Heights map. Public domain.

To read more about the Battle at Chaffin's Farm please see BeyondtheCrater.com.

The Butler Medal

Although the fourteen men had received the Medal of Honor, Butler wished to further recognize his African American troops involved in the battle, and he paid for the Butler Medals out of his personal funds. Benjamin Franklin Butler awarded the medal to approximately 200 soldiers and said, "I had the fullest reports made to me of the acts of individual bravery of colored men on that occasion, and I had done for the negro soldiers, by my own order, what the government has never done for its white soldiers - I had a medal struck of like size, weight, quality, fabrication, and intrinsic value with those which Queen Victoria gave with her own hand to her distinguished private soldiers of the Crimea.... These I gave with my own hand, save where the recipient was in a distant hospital wounded, and by the commander of the colored corps after it was removed from my command, and I record with pride that in that single action there were so many deserving that it called for a presentation of nearly two hundred." Read more about the Butler Medal at Wikipedia.org.

The New Milford Fire Department Honor Guard.

Football and New Milford Fire Department Honor Guard

A Glendale congratulations to the New Milford Fire Department who presented the colors at MetLife Stadium during the preseason New York Giants versus New York Jets game. A proud day and a great job was done by all of the members of this New Jersey honor guard.

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