The story of this heroic preserver of the American flag, in the assault on Fort Wagner, in July, 1863, is as follows:
When the Sergeant arrived to within about one hundred yards of the fort,–he was with the first battalion, which was in the advance of the storming column,–he received the regimental colors, and pressed forward to the front rank, near the Colonel, who was leading the men over the ditch. He says, as they ascended the wall of the fort, the ranks were full; but as soon as they reached the top, “they melted away” before the enemy’s fire, “almost instantly.” He received a severe wound in the thigh, but fell only upon his knee. He planted the flag upon the parapet, lay down on the outer slope, that he might get as much shelter as possible, and there remained for over half an hour, till the Second brigade came up. He kept the colors flying until the second conflict was ended. When our forces retired, he followed, creeping on one knee, still holding up the flag. It was thus that Sergeant Carney came from the field–having held the emblem of liberty over the walls of Fort Wagner during the sanquinary conflict of the two brigades–and having received two very sever wounds, one in the thigh, and one in the head. Still he refused to give up his sacred trust until he found an officer of his regiment.
When he entered the field hospital, where his wounded comrades were being brought in, they cheered him and the colors. Though nearly exhausted with the loss of blood, he said, “Boys, the old flag never touched the ground.”
Originally posted 2008-11-03 14:45:53.