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Catalog Data

Created by:
United States Mint, American, founded 1792  Search this
Commissioned by:
Gen. Benjamin Franklin Butler, American, 1818 - 1893  Search this
Designed by:
Anthony C. Paquet, German, 1814 - 1882  Search this
silver and silk (textile)
H x W: 5 1/2 x 1 5/8 in. (14 x 4.1 cm)
medallions (medals)
After the battle of New Market Heights, Gen. Benjamin F. Butler commissioned a medal of honor to be awarded to African American soldiers for bravery. Officially known as Army of the James Medals, these are the only U.S. medals designed specifically for African American troops.
The medal was designed by Anthony C. Paquet, whose name is inscribed on the obverse, and realized in silver by the United States Mint in Philadelphia. The medal consists of a silver medallion suspended from a silver ring fixed to a silver eagle-claw-covered ball and loop, through which a red, white and blue stripped grosgrain ribbon (most likely silk) was treaded, in turn suspended from an oak-leaf-decorated silver pin.
The obverse of the medallion depicts a bastion fort being charged upon by a pair of musket-bearing African-American soldiers. The Latin inscription “FERRO IIS LIBERTAS PERVENIET” (freedom will be theirs by the sword) is in raised letters on a banner around the upper part of the medallion, and “US COLORED TROOPS” is in raised letters below the image. The reverse is decorated with an oak leaf wreath tied with a bow at bottom center, raised lettering reading “DISTINGUISHED FOR COURAGE” around the perimeter, and raised lettering reading “CAMPAIGN FOR RICHMOND 1864” in the middle. “ARMY OF THE JAMES” is inscribed in raised letters on the pin.
African American  Search this
Military  Search this
U.S. History, Civil War, 1861-1865  Search this
Credit Line:
Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, Gift of the Family of Irving and Estelle Liss
Object number:
Restrictions & Rights:
Public domain
Proper usage is the responsibility of the user.
See more items in:
National Museum of African American History and Culture Collection
Awards and Medals
Double Victory: The African American Military Experience
On View:
NMAAHC (1400 Constitution Ave NW), National Mall Location, Community/Third Floor, 3 053
Data Source:
National Museum of African American History and Culture