b. 15/12/1845 County Cork, Ireland. d. 02/11/1910 Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin.
DATE OF MOH ACTION: 16/04/1865 Columbus, Georgia.
Born in County Cork, Ireland, Cosgriff’s family immigrated to the United States when he was three years old, in 1849. The family lived in Dunkirk, New York, for six years before moving to Ohio in 1855 and then to Wisconsin two years later. In Wisconsin, Cosgriff worked as a printer and a log rafter. In 1861, he rafted down the Mississippi River to Davenport, Iowa, and enlisted in the Union Army on September 25. Exactly two months later, he was mustered into service as a private with Company L of the 4th Regiment Iowa Volunteer Cavalry. He reenlisted for another term of service on December 21, 1863.
One week after the surrender of Confederate General Robert E. Lee at the Battle of Appomattox Court House, which ended all major engagements of the war, Cosgriff’s unit moved towards Columbus, Georgia. Their intention was to capture the city’s supply depots, naval yards, and weapons factories. On Easter Sunday, April 16, 1865, the 4th Iowa Cavalry and other regiments attacked a bridge over the Chattahoochee River which led into Columbus. When the Union general, James H. Wilson, called for cavalrymen to charge the covered bridge and capture the soldiers guarding it, Cosgriff volunteered. He and the other volunteers rode past two lines of entrenchments and fought hand-to-hand with the bridge guard. During the struggle, Cosgriff knocked down a Confederate flag bearer with the butt of his rifle, capturing both the flag and the bearer. The cavalrymen successfully subdued the bridge guard and captured two heavy guns. For these actions, Cosgriff was awarded the Medal of Honor two months later, on June 17.
With the war ended, Cosgriff was mustered out of the Army on August 8, 1865, in Atlanta, Georgia. Returning to Wisconsin, he worked as a farmer and founded a lumber business in Hudson. In 1871, he married Mary A. Coldthrust and moved to Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin; the couple later had five children. He farmed in Minnesota for a few years but moved back to Wisconsin in 1887. Back in Chippewa Falls, he was involved in several business ventures, including a printing company. He died at age 64 and was buried at Hope Cemetery in Chippewa Falls.
Capture of flag in a personal encounter with its bearer.
BURIAL LOCATION: HOPE CEMETERY, CHIPPEWA FALLS, WISCONSIN.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: FAMILY.