Title: Medal of Honor, Peter Cotton, USS Baron De Kalb (1861)
Accession #: NHHC 1957-2-K
Size: 2 x 2.5
Location: Headquarters Artifact Collection, Naval History and Heritage Command
The Medal of Honor awarded to Peter Cotton of the USS Baron De Kalb (1861) [Ironclad St Louis Renamed]
Obverse: Five pointed bronze star tipped with trefoils containing a crown of laurel and oak. In the center is Minerva, the Roman goddess of wisdom and warfare, standing with left hand resting on fasces and right hand holding a shield blazoned with the escutcheon of the United States. She repulses discord, represented by a male figure holding snakes. It is made of solid red brass, oxidized and buffed.
Reverse: engraved "Personal Valor / Peter Cotton / Coxswain / U.S.S St. Louis / Forts Henry and Donalson / Feb 6th & 14th 1862 / & Other Actions"
Citation for Award: Cotton served on board the USS Baron De Kalb in the Yazoo River (Mississippi) expedition, 23 to 27 December 1862.
Proceeding under orders up the Yazoo River with the object of capturing or destroying the enemy's transports, the Baron De Kalb came upon the Confederate steamers John Walsh, R.J. Lockland, Golden Age, and the Scotland sunk on a bar where they were ordered to be burned in order to block Union gunboats. Continuing up the river, the Baron De Kalb was fired upon, but, upon returning the fire, caused the enemy's retreat. Returning down the Yazoo, she destroyed and captured large quantities of enemy equipment and several prisoners. Serving bravely throughout this action, Cotton, as Coxswain, "distinguished himself in the various actions."
The medal cites the USS St. Louis as Peter Cotton's ship while the award citation identifies the ship as the USS Baron De Kalb. Commissioned in January 1862, the USS St. Louis was under the command of the United States War Department. In September of that year, the ship was renamed USS Baron De Kalb prior to its transfer to the Navy Department.