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Compatriot Medal of Honor Recipients

John Breckinridge Babcock

John Breckinridge Babcock

John Breckinridge Babcock was born on February 7, 1847, in New Orleans, Louisiana. At the age of fifteen, he joined the Thirty-seventh New York Militia as a sergeant. “For his remarkable courage and daring he received four brevets, those to first lieutenant, captain, major, and lieutenant colonel.”

In 1865, he reached the rank of major. He took part in seven battles in Louisiana. He then took part in the siege of Petersburg, Virginia, and then with General Sheridan in the Shenandoah Valley.

After the Civil War, Babcock participated in many battles with the Indians. He was awarded the Medal of Honor as a first lieutenant in the 5th U.S. Cavalry for action on May 16, 1869, at Spring Creek, Nebraska. His citation reads “While serving with a scouting column this officer’s troop was attacked by a vastly superior force of Indians. Advancing to high ground, he dismounted his men, remaining mounted himself to encourage them, and there fought the Indians until relieved, his horse being wounded.”

Babcock served as a brigadier general in the U.S. Volunteers. His obituary reports that “Several times his horse was shot from under him, and once he was shot in the breast with an arrow.”

John B. Babcock signed his SAR application on October 16, 1893. His SAR National number is 6955. He was a member of the District of Columbia SAR with a D.C. Society number of 455. He lists two SAR patriot ancestors on his application: one is Henry Babcock of Westerly, Rhode Island, who served as the “Colonel Commandant of Rhode Island Colony’s Brigade, March 1776” and the other patriot ancestor is Joshua Babcock who served in the Rhode Island General Assembly, 1740-1778; Major General of the “Colony’s Brigade” for defence [sic] of Rhode Island, May, 1776; Member of State Council of War.” It is noted on Babcock’s application “Transferred to California, Feb. 22, 1899.”

The New York Times published April 28, 1909 (Friday), reported “Brig. Gen. John Breckinridge Babcock, famous as an old Indian fighter, and a veteran of the civil war, died Monday (April 26, 1909) on the steamship Prinz Friederich Wilhelm, which arrived here from Bremen yesterday.” He was accompanied by his wife and son. The general had been in Europe “hoping that the trip might improve his health. He had long suffered from Bright’s disease.” He is buried in Evergreen Cemetery, Stonington, New London County, Connecticut.

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