James Fegan MOH

b. 1827 Athlone, Ireland. d. 25/06/1886 Fort Shaw, Montana.

DATE OF MOH ACTION; 03/1868 Plum Creek, Kansas.

James Fegan MOH

Born in Athlone, Ireland in 1827, James Fegan served some time with the Irish Constabulary prior to emigrating to the United States in 1850. After arriving in New York City, New York, he enlisted as a private in the U.S. Army and assigned to Company I of the 2nd U.S. Infantry on October 29, 1851. By the end of his first enlistment in 1856, he had risen to the rank of sergeant. Fegan remained with his unit up to and during the American Civil War. As part of the Army of the Potomac, he saw action at Gaines’ Mill, Malvern Hill, Hanover Court House, Fair Oaks, Harrison’s Landing, Bull Run, Centreville, South Mountain and Antietam. Though seriously wounded at Antietam, having taken a bullet in the right leg, he reenlisted in Company C of the 3rd U.S. Infantry on March 31, 1864. He held a distinguished war record, having been wounded several times in action, and participated in a number of major battles during the final years of the war. Among these included the battles of Petersburg, Reams’ Station, James’ Station, Birney Station, Stoneman’s Creek, the first and second battles of Deep Bottom, South Side Railroad, Danville Railroad, Boydton Plank Road, Appomattox Station, Farmsville City, New House, Savage’s Station, Reno Station, Manchester, Richmond, Dunwiddie, Burksville Junction, Appomattox Courthouse and the subsequent surrender of General Lee’s Army.

Fegan continued to serve with the 3rd U.S. Infantry during the last years of his life. Though placed in the Soldiers’ Home in Washington, D.C. shortly after his sixth reenlistment in 1870, he but was granted a discharge and returned to duty in the Montana Territory. Fegan was a well-known character in the regiment, known for his shrewdness and humor, and many memorable anecdotes were attributed to him during his lifetime. He received his Medal of Honor on 19 October 1878. On December 6, 1882, Fegan was the subject of a special presidential message by Chester A. Arthur to the United States Congress. His life and career was profiled by author Theo F. Rodenbough in his books Uncle Sam’s Medal of Honor (1886) and Sabre and Bayonet: Stories of Heroism and Military Adventure (1897). His son, John Fegan, Jr., had joined the 3rd Infantry and eventually became a sergeant alongside his father in Company H. He retired from active service at Fort Missoula in the Montana Territory on May 8, 1885.



While in charge of a powder train en route from Fort Harker to Fort Dodge, Kans., was attacked by a party of desperadoes, who attempted to rescue a deserter in his charge and to fire the train. Sgt. Fegan, single-handed, repelled the attacking party, wounding 2 of them, and brought his train through in safety.