b. 26/05/1842 Bristol County, Massachusetts. d. 08/06/1916 Boston, Massachusetts.
DATE OF MOH ACTION: 30/12/1862 off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina.
Horton was born May 26, 1842, in Bristol, Massachusetts. He enlisted in the Navy in May 1861 when he was 19.
That summer, during the early days of the war, Horton was captured while serving on the USS Massachusetts and taken to a Confederate prison in Richmond, Virginia. He was paroled and discharged in March 1862 and almost immediately reenlisted.
His new duty station was the USS Rhode Island, and that’s where he was serving when he earned the Medal of Honor. On Dec. 30, 1862, the Rhode Island was towing the ironclad warship USS Monitor as a terrible storm began, causing the Monitor to spring a leak and start to sink. Horton and six other seamen volunteered to take a rowboat out on a rescue mission to save the Monitor’s men. The rescuers made two successful trips before returning for a third to discover that the Monitor had completely sunk. They were able to save all but 16 men. When the rescuers turned back, they were about 2 miles from the Rhode Island. But thanks to the rain and fog, they lost sight of the ship.
The men had no food or water and very little to keep themselves warm in the cold, wet winter weather. After 18 hours, they were finally rescued about 50 miles from where the Monitor sank. All seven men survived and were able to rejoin the Rhode Island’s crew by mid-January. Horton and the six other men — Luke Griswold, John Jones, Hugh Logan, George Moore, Charles H. Smith and Maurice Wagg – were the first noncombatants to receive the Medal of Honor. Less than a year after the Monitor’s sinking, on Nov. 3, 1863, Horton had both of his arms blown off at the elbow in a gun-loading accident, and what remained of his arms had to be amputated immediately.
Horton wasn’t expected to survive the accident, but he did, and he went on to live a pretty full life. He got married, raised a family and even learned to race a yacht again, despite the loss of his arms. He went on to work at a Boston Customs House in 1893 when he learned he had earned the Medal – even though the citation was issued in 1865.
Served on board the U.S.S. Rhode Island which was engaged in saving the lives of the officers and crew of the Monitor, 30 December 1862. Participating in the hazardous rescue of the officers and crew of the sinking Monitor, Horton, after rescuing several of the men, became separated in a heavy gale with other members of the cutter that had set out from the Rhode Island, and spent many hours in the small boat at the mercy of the weather and the high seas until finally picked up by a schooner 50 miles east of Cape Hatteras.
BURIAL LOCATION: FOREST HILLS CEMETERY, JAMAICA PLAINS, MASSACHUSETTS.
SECTION 8, FIELD OF MACHPELAH, PATH E, GRAVE 141.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: FAMILY.