b. 30/07/1838 Greenville, Delaware. d. 31/12/1926 Greenville, Delaware.
DATE OF MOH ACTION: 19/10/1864 Cedar Creek, Virginia.
Du Pont was born July 30, 1838, at Eleutherian Mills, near Greenville, Delaware, son of Henry and Louisa Gerhard du Pont and grandson of Eleuthère Irénée du Pont, the founder of E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company and the family in the United States.
He attended the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, and graduated first in his class from the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York in 1861, after the beginning of the American Civil War.
Du Pont was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant of Engineers upon his graduation from West Point on May 6, 1861. Soon after he was promoted to 1st Lieutenant in the 5th Regiment, U.S. Artillery with date of rank of May 14, 1861. He served as a light artillery officer in the Union Army during the war, initially assigned to the defenses of Washington and New York Harbor. From July 6, 1861 to March 24, 1864, he served as regimental adjutant (administrative officer) until he was promoted to captain. He subsequently became chief of artillery in the Army of West Virginia.
Du Pont was part of General Philip Sheridan’s army in the Shenandoah Valley of northern Virginia. He received the Medal of Honor for his handling of a retreat at the Battle of Cedar Creek, allowing Sheridan to win a victory in the battle. During the war, du Pont received two brevets (honorary promotions). The first was to the rank of major, dated September 19, 1864, for gallant service in the battles of Opequon and Fisher’s Hill. The second brevet was to the rank of lieutenant colonel, dated October 19, 1864, for distinguished service at the Battle of Cedar Creek, Virginia.
After the war, du Pont continued as a career officer until resigning on March 1, 1875. In the postwar years, he became a companion of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States (MOLLUS), an organization for former officers of the Union Army and their descendants. Assigned to the U.S. capital, du Pont was a member of the District of Columbia Commandery, assigned MOLLUS insignia number 10418.
Du Pont was elected to the U.S. Senate on June 13, 1906, to fill the vacancy in the term beginning March 4, 1905. During this term, he served with the Republican majority in the 59th, 60th, and 61st U.S. Congress. In the 61st Congress, he was Chairman of the Committee on Expenditures in the Military Affairs Department.
He was again elected to the U.S. Senate in 1911. During this term, he served with the Republican majority in the 62nd Congress, but was in the minority in the 63rd, and 64th U.S. Congress. In the 62nd Congress he was again Chairman of the Committee on Expenditures in the War Department, in the 63rd Congress he was a member of the Committee on Military Affairs, and in the 64th Congress he was a member of the Committee on Transportation and Sale of Meat Products.
In the first popular election of a U.S. Senator in Delaware, du Pont lost his bid for a third full term in 1916 to Democrat Josiah O. Wolcott, the Delaware Attorney General. In all, he served most of two terms from June 13, 1906 to March 4, 1917, during the administrations of U.S. Presidents Theodore Roosevelt, William H. Taft and Woodrow Wilson.
Henry A. du Pont died at his home, Winterthur, and is buried in the Du Pont de Nemours Cemetery at Greenville, Delaware. His son, Henry Francis du Pont, turned his home into the Winterthur Museum, Garden and Library, the nation’s premier museum of American decorative arts. Archival materials relating to him are part of the collections held by the Winterthur Library.
By his distinguished gallantry, and voluntary exposure to the enemy’s fire at a critical moment, when the Union line had been broken, encouraged his men to stand to their guns, checked the advance of the enemy, and brought off most of his pieces.
BURIAL LOCATION: DU PONT FAMILY CEMETERY, GREENVILLE, DELAWARE.
OLD CEMETERY, C-1, LOT # 240-Restricted Access
LOCATION OF MEDAL: FAMILY.