b. 14/09/1844 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. d. 12/04/1922 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
DATE OF MOH ACTION: 27/10/1864 Boydton Plank Road, Virginia.
Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on September 14, 1844, Sylvester Bonnaffon Jr., was a son of Philadelphia natives Albert L. Bonnaffon (1818–1889) and Adaline Frances (McClintock) Bonnaffon (1821–1871). Nineteen-year-old Sylvester Bonnaffon Jr. enrolled for military service in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on December 14, 1861, and mustered in there that same day as a private with Company I of the 99th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry. Transferring to Company G within the same regiment on December 18, he was then promoted to the rank of corporal on April 1, 1862, and to the rank of sergeant a month later (on May 1). Commissioned as a second lieutenant on August 1 of that same year, he subsequently engaged with his regiment in several of the most intense actions of the American Civil War as part of the Union’s Army of the Potomac.
After fighting with his regiment in the Battle of Peebles’s Farm (September 30–October 2), Bonnaffon then performed the act of valor which resulted in his being awarded the U.S. Medal of Honor. While leading his men in the Battle of Boydton Plank Road, Virginia on October 27, 1864, as a member of Brigadier-General Regis De Trobriand’s staff (2nd Corps, 1st Brigade, 3rd Division), he was severely wounded in action as he rallied his troops “in the face of a terrible fire of musketry”, according to his Medal of Honor citation. Inspired by his leadership, his men went on to check what was shaping up to be a Confederate States Army rout of the Union Army that day.
Bonnaffon was subsequently commended in Trobriand’s battle report and also twice brevetted in recognition of his service to his nation, first as a major and then, on March 13, 1865, as a lieutenant colonel. His regiment having completed its service in the Appomattox Campaign, he then received a permanent advancement in rank with a commission at the rank of captain at Brandy Station, Virginia on April 20, 1865. On July 1 of that same year, he honorably mustered out with his company.
Following his honorable discharge from the military, Bonnaffon returned home to Pennsylvania and, in 1866, wed Virginia Victoria Walters (1841–1927), daughter of Albert G. and Virginia (Souder) Walters. On January 11, 1867, they welcomed the birth of their first child, Samuel Ashton Bonnaffon (1867–1940).
Sylvester Bonnaffon, Jr. then re-enlisted for military service once again — this time with the Pennsylvania National Guard’s 1st Regiment Infantry (also known as the “Gray Reserves”). After enlisting as a private on October 15, 1868, he was promoted to the rank of first lieutenant with Company H on March 2, 1870. Detailed as acting regimental adjutant in January 1871, he then served as captain of that same company from June 14, 1871, to September 14, 1872, and was honorably discharged on September 4, 1874.
On October 4, 1875, he and his wife welcomed the twin births of his namesake son, Sylvester Bonnaffon, III (1875–1945) and Edmund Walters Bonnaffon (1875–1954). Like their father before them, both went on to pursue careers in the military. From 1890 until the time of his retirement on August 20, 1920, Bonnaffon was employed by the Customs House in Philadelphia, working his way up from positions as examiner and assistant cashier to cashier. Sylvester Bonnaffon, Jr. died on May 12, 1922, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Checked the rout and rallied the troops of his command in the face of a terrible fire of musketry; was severely wounded.
BURIAL LOCATION: WOODLANDS CEMETERY, PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA.
SECTION K, LOT 286
LOCATION OF MEDAL: FAMILY.