It was unseasonably hot in May 1864 during the Battle of the Wilderness–the first time Grant and Lee squared off in the war and the first battle of Grant’s Overland Campaign. The armies brawled in and around the dense forest of Orange and Spotsylvania counties–today, an area known as Locust Grove, Virginia.
Late on the second day of the battle, May 6, Confederates had driven Union troops from their earthworks, earthworks the men in blue could not afford to lose. Around 4 p.m. near the Brock and Plank Roads–a place called “the crossroads”–the Union took them back ... thanks in large part to Sgt. Patrick DeLacy.
Insensible to the danger, he charged headlong toward the enemy, out in front of the Union line. Witnesses said every enemy rifle in the vicinity trained on him. DeLacy killed a rebel flag bearer – inspiring his comrades to make the counterattack a success.
Three decades later–almost to the day–DeLacy received the formal gratitude of his country for his action at the Wilderness: the Medal of Honor.