James Madison Drake MOH

b. 25/03/1837 Washington Valley, New Jersey. d. 28/11/1913 Elizabeth, New Jersey.

DATE OF MOH ACTION: 06/05/1864 Port Walthall Junction, Virginia.

James M Drake MOH

Civil War Medal of Honor Recipient. He entered the Union Army when he was mustered in as a Sergeant in Company B, 3rd New Jersey Militia on April 27, 1861. He served with the unit as it was held in reserve during the July 1861 Battle of First Bull Run, and was mustered out on July 31, when the regiment’s three month enlistment expired. He then enlisted in the 9th New Jersey Volunteer Infantry, being mustered in as a Sergeant in Company K on October 15, 1861. He would go on to rise in rank, being promoted to 1st Sergeant on May 16, 1862, 2nd Lieutenant on June 3, 1863, and 1st Lieutenant on May 11, 1864.

On May 6, 1864 at Bermuda Hundred, Virginia, he commanded the Union skirmish line that was far advanced from the main Union forces, and held it for over 24 hours in the face of constant Confederate fire. His leadership heroics that day would eventually see him awarded the CMOH. At the May 16, 1864 Battle of Drury’s Bluff, Virginia he was captured by Confederate forces when his company was surrounded, and was imprisoned for a time in the notorious Libby Prison in Richmond, Virginia.

On October 6, 1864, while he and other prisoners were being transported by train to a prison in Columbia, South Carolina, he managed to escape in Charleston, South Carolina with three other officers, and made a daring and treacherous six week trek through Confederate territory to reach Union lines in Knoxville, Tennessee. After eventually rejoining his regiment, he was commissioned as Captain on February 8, 1865, but was never mustered into that rank, as he was honorably mustered out on April 1, 1865.

After the war he became a successful newspaper publisher and auther, and published an account of his escape from Confederate captors called “Fast and Loose In Dixie”. He was a prominent member of the New Jersey National Guard, and was brevetted Brigadier General by the state for his Civil War service and heroics. His Medal was awarded to him on March 3, 1873.



Commanded the skirmish line in the advance and held his position all day and during the night.