The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pleasure in presenting the Medal of honor to Sergeant Benjamin Brown, United States Army, for extraordinary heroism on 11 May 1889, while serving with Company C, 24th U.S. Infantry, in action in Arizona Territory. Although shot in the abdomen, in a ﬁght between a paymaster's escort and robbers, Sergeant Brown did not leave the field until again wounded through both arms.
Citation. President Benjamin Harrison, 19 February 1890
Born in Spotsylvania County, Virginia, to Henry and Polly Brown, Benjamin Brown (~1858-1910) is the only Congressional Medal of Honor recipient in this county's history. The medal is "the highest award for valor in action against an enemy force which can be bestowed upon an individual serving in the Armed Services of the United States." (Medal of Honor Museum)
Although his formative years are unknown to us, he traveled to Pennsylvania where in his early 20s, he enlisted in the U.S. Army through its Harrisburg office and was assigned to one of four Buffalo soldier units for engagement in the Indian Wars.
He was only 26 years old during his second enlistment when in 1889 he was one of 12 soldiers from Fort Grant in Arizona attempting to ensure more than $28,000 in payroll funds reached fellow soldiers in nearby Fort Thomas. Ambushed on the trail, he and his fellow soldiers were in a two-hour open ground gun fight. The bandits escaped with the money. Nine of the alleged bandits were captured and put on trial. All were acquitted and the money was never recovered.
After an investigation, the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Military Affairs concluded that the soldiers "displayed unusual courage and skill in defense of the Government's property."
Sergeant Brown served seven (7) tours of duty - five of which he served with a bullet still lodged in his body. Disability forced his retirement in 1905, and he died September 5, 1910 in the U.S. Soldiers' and Airmen's Home in Washington, DC. He is buried in the adjacent cemetery, the ﬁrst national one for U.S. veterans.
The African American Heritage Trail is supported in part by a Preserve America grant administered by the National Park Service, United States Department of the Interior. This product is based upon work assisted by a grant from the U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service. Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Department of the Interior.