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8th Illinois Cavalry

From the original painting by Mort Künstler "Hold At All Cost" © 1993 Mort Künstler, Inc.

Congressional Medal of Honor


 

 Sergeant Horace Capron Jr., Company G

Born: Laurel, Maryland
Entered service at: Peoria, Illinois
Issued: September 27, 1865

 

Horace Capron Jr. earned the Congressional Medal of Honor for extreme Gallantry in Action
at Chickahominy-Ashland, Virginia, June 1862 (while serving in Company G with the 8th Illinois Cavalry).  He was mortally wounded near the north bank of the Tuckasegee River at Deep Creek (near Bryson City), North Carolina on February 2, 1864.  Sgt. Capron died February 6, 1864 in Knoxville (while serving in Company A with the 14th Illinois Cavalry).

 


Letter to:
Colonel Horace Capron
14th Illinois Cavalry

Letter from:
Lieutenant Colonel D. J. Hynes
17th Illinois Cavalry (previous Captain Company G, 8th Illinois Cavalry)


Headquarters 17th Illinois Cavalry St. Charles, Illinois
March 8th, 1864

My Dear Sir:
Although personally unknown to you, I have never ceased since my first acquaintance with your family, through the lamented son who bore your name, to feel a lively interest in the fortunes of your house; which fact, I trust, will be my sufficient excuse (if one is necessary) for this communication. In common with the entire of his old comrades-in-arms of the 8th Illinois Cavalry the sad intelligence of our noble friends death communicated by yourself – fell like a pall upon our hearts, and pervaded probably with a sadder gloom those whose good fortune entitled them to call him friend – and amongst the latter myself. Having known his as a schoolmate in Kenosha, Wisconsin and later embarked in the same glorious cause in a common company being about his age and from other ties which are unnecessary to mention. We became attached friends and I should not allow his death to pass without some remembrance. He was an ardent, thorough devotee of liberty in its broadest and holiest meaning, and consequently his whole soul was pervaded with the good work in which he was engaged and for which unfortunately, he laid down his life. His own bright saber never flashed with such luster as did brightly flashing eyes when with all the chivalric braving of his young manhood, he was fearlessly riding in the van of a desperate charge. His quick decision, clear judgment, comprehension grasp of the situation and coolness, had already distinguished him in the regiment and his friends confidently predicted for him a brilliant career and have watched with admiration the star of his glory in ascendancy. I could relate a hundred incidents of his remarkable gallantry in action but to his father, who has seen him in service, it would be superfluous, and consequently I will content myself with one remembrance which now forcible presents itself to my mind. The enemy, after being driven from Middletown, Maryland (in the first Maryland Campaign) sent their wagon train under a heavy guard by the road leading to the left over the Potomac at Berlin, while their main body activated, skirmishing with us in the direction of the afterwards bloody field of Antietam. A detachment from the 1st Cavalry Brigade, under our friend, the late noble Major Medile were sent in pursuit of the train. Your son’s company were among those who composed the advance guard, and upon coming up with the rebels, charged with impetuosity which always characterized the 8th Illinois and owing to the superior numbers with which they had to contend, were compelled to retire in some disorder. Horace was amongst the most conspicuous in rallying the men of his company, and leading back a few whom he had gathered together, to inspire the others with confidence, never spared the spur until he had struck the advancing rebels, even though most of his few heroic companions had been wounded and captured. Treating with contempt the loud cries to surrender which greeted him, he turned his horse and made for his company, who were just reconned and advancing again. Horace noticing their hesitancy in firing on the enemy lest they might hit him, and having only an eye for the chastisement of the foe, cried out “Shoot Shoot it doesn’t matter if you kill me. Shoot and you’ll kill enough of them to make up for it!” and had not fairly reached his friends before he in turn, turned upon his pursuers and with saber alone, made some of them bite the dust. When it was happily ended, the men and officers, with one accord greeted him with hearty cheers and warm congratulations. When asked why he did not rather surrender than run the risk of almost certain death, he replied that “Once having turned his horse’s head toward his friends he knew his body at least would be carried in, and further, it would not sound well at home, that a Capron had surrendered without being mortally wounded.” It was this and kindred acts which influenced me in selecting him as the proper person to recommend for the “Medal of Honor” for gallantry, when I was informed that one would be awarded any company and it was the unanimous voice not only of Company “G” but of the entire regiment that the honor was meritoriously conferred. It would be impossible to do justice to the memory or service of your son in a communication of this kind; but I feel that some testimony of my friendly attachment and appreciation of him might not be unacceptable to you. Trusting that your family may be spared any other bereavement, other than that occasioned by your absence while at the head of your regiment, until “Rebellion in the land shall lose its sway” and assuring you of my warmest sympathies and the hope that I may hereafter have the good fortune of meeting you.
I have the honor to be sir
With much regard and esteem
Very respectfully and
Very truly yours
D. J. Hynes