MICHAEL DOUGHERTY, Company M, private.
Source : United States Army Military History Institute - McCahan Family Collection.
"Bristol's Civil War Hero Saved Lives, Served His Community" By Catherine Fee, writer for the Courier Times, Bristol, Pennsylvania. The following are excepts from Catherine Fee's article dated sometime in the 1980's.
Taken from Michael Dougherty's Dairies.
"Then on October 12, 1863, at Jefferson VA, his unit(13th PA Cavalry, Company M) attacked by General Lee's forces, Dougherty risked his life once more in a courageous feat which would later win him the country's highest honor - the Congressional Medal of Honor."
" While serving as a vedette - a sentinel - on Oct. 11th at Jefferson, VA., Dougherty noticed rebel cavalry stealing though the Union lines in the 4 A. M. darkness. " I called volunteers and they answered my call and we charged them and opened fire on them. Seven of my comrades were Killed. We drove them out of a large stone barn and we had to take shelter in it while we held against repeated attacks." He wrote.
Dougherty leading a detachment of his company( company M ), he dashed across an open field, directly through deadly enemy fire. He continued running as seven of his men fell, shot to death, around him. The detachment dislodged the enemy from a large stone barn. The action prevented the Confederates from flanking the Union forces and saved 2,500 lives.
" We fought as long as we had any ammunition. About 400 of us were taken prisoner, besides quite a number killed and wounded."
FREEDOM FROM ANDERSONVILLE - ON APRIL 23, 1865
"… Douherty boarded the steamer "Sultana" for the trip to St. Louis, MO. The "Sultana" carried 2,400 former prisoners and 180 civilians, six times more then she had been designed to carry. For four days the overloaded ship labored slowly up the Mississippi River, a tremendous explosion ripped through the quiet ship, rousing the passengers who were just days away from freedom.
" One of the four boilers burst and the vessel cut in two " Dougherty recounts. " The ship caught on fire and the cabins burned like tinder."
Dougherty , along with 1,400 others leaped into the water, with the cries of the injured and dying ringing in his ears and a strength he wouldn't have believed he had left in him, Dougherty swam through the backend water, eerily illuminated by the burning ship, and desperately made his way to a small island. Amazingly his diary also survived the ordeal. Of the ship's 2,500 passengers only 900 lived.