African-American Heroes
William H. Carney

Entered Service: Early 1863

In 1863, Sergeant William Carney entered the military and became a member of the 54th Massachusetts Colored Infantry. In July of that same year, Carney found himself in the fierce Battle of Fort Wagner. After being wounded, Sergeant Carney saw that the color bearer had been shot down a few feet away. Carney summoned all his strength to retrieve the fallen colors and continued the charge. During the charge Carney was shot several more times, yet he kept the colors flying high. Once delivering the flag back to his regiment, he shouted "The Old Flag never touched the ground!" For this act Sergeant Carney became the first African American to receive the Medal of Honor.