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Edward Washburn Whitaker


U.S. Army
Medal Of Honor, Civil War

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After raids against Danville and Southside Railway, Union forces under General James Wilson attempted to rejoin the Army of the Potomac in front of Petersburg when they ran into a blockading force of Confederate cavalry at Reams' Station, Virginia, on June 29, 1864. Further advance was impossible without support, and General Wilson's force was already tired and battered from previous combat actions. Captain Edward Whitaker volunteered to raise a force of forty volunteers, with which he blitzed the enemy line. It was a near-suicidal effort, and every volunteer had been instructed that whoever got through should continue on until they reached General Meade's headquarters. Several men fell to the enemy fusillade, but Captain Whitaker and eighteen of his soldiers broke through the enemy lines and persisted on their desperate journey to deliver their important message. Captain Whitaker volunteered to lead a relief force back through the enemy's lines, but by that time General Wilson's force had made a detour around the Confederate position. His heroism however, in making the dangerous effort to break through an enemy force as "strong as a stone wall" earned him the Medal of Honor.

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