Leadership, valor, mentorship, vision logoMedal of Honor profile: PVT Morgan Lane

For Civil War service (1865)

Second-Class PVT Morgan Lane�s military service began with his enlistment Aug. 22, 1862, in Company I, 5th Regiment of Michigan Cavalry, at Allegan, Michigan. In the cavalry he rose to the rank of sergeant. In March 1864, Lane transferred to the Signal Corps and was appointed a second-class private April 1, 1864. His entire service was in the Civil War�s Army of the Potomac, from which he was honorably discharged June 24, 1865.

After November 1864, he served in 5th Corps, to whose headquarters he was attached in early April 1865 as the orderly of LT P.H. Niles, a Signal Corps officer. During the Union pursuit of GEN Robert E. Lee�s army, the event occurred that earned Lane the Medal of Honor � taking place about one year after he transferred to the Signal Corps.

Lane, Niles and an engineer captain were in advance of Union Army troops near Jetersville, Va., April 6, 1865, when they encountered Confederate sailors escaping their boat Nansemond. The historical record is slim on what happened; all we know is from Niles� description of the event as quoted in the April 20, 1865, report of CPT Charles Davis, Chief Signal Officer, Army of the Potomac. Lane, Niles and the engineer captain captured seven Confederates: two naval officers, one engineer, one signal officer and three enlisted men, per Niles� account. �The flag of the gunboat Nansemond was secured from one of these enlisted men by Second-Class Private Morgan D. Lane, U.S. Signal Corps,� Niles reported.

In early 1866 Lane sent to Congressman Charles Upson of Michigan a slightly different account of the event. Lane claimed to have captured the Nansemond�s commanding officer and the flag that �was on his person.� Continuing, Lane said he was given 30 days� leave and was promised a �gold medal� for his deed. Lane sought Upson�s help in claiming his gold medal.

Upson forwarded Lane�s letter to the War Department, which tried to locate Nansemond�s flag to substantiate Lane�s claim that he had captured it. The flag didn�t turn up. However, by March 1866, Lane�s letter had reached Chief Signal Officer COL Benjamin Fisher. Fisher endorsed Lane�s medal by quoting from Davis� April 1865 report � but with a correction that Lane had secured the flag from an enlisted man, not from Nansemond�s commander as Lane recalled. Fisher�s endorsement was all the evidence the War Department needed; Lane�s Medal of Honor was issued March 16, 1866.

The Signal Regiment inducted Lane as a Distinguished Member of the Regiment in 1997.

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