Remembering Ottawa County’s Medal of Honor recipient

Sara A. Toris

Director, Ottawa County
Veterans Service Office

March 25th was established by Congress in 1999 as National Medal of Honor Day to “foster public appreciation and recognition of Medal of Honor Recipients.” That day was chosen because it was on March 25, 1863, that the first Medals of Honor were presented to six members of Andrews’ Raiders.
The Medal of Honor is the United States’ highest award for military valor in action and was first signed into law in 1861 during the Civil War. The medal is a distinguished award, presented to those who have shown gallantry at the risk of their lives, above and beyond the call of duty. Out of the 41 million who have served in the U.S. military, the medal has been presented to only 3,517 service members who went above and beyond the call of duty. Among these recipients, 19 are double awardees, which means that there have been 3,536 Medals of Honor awarded.
There has been one known recipient here in Ottawa County.
Lewis C. Shepard was born Sept. 2, 1841 in Ashtabula County, Ohio. He first enlisted in the army as a private in Company I, of the 19th Ohio Infantry, mustering in on the 27th of April 1861 for a term of three months. During that time he participated in the Battle of Rich Mountain in Randolph County, Virginia (now West Virginia).
This first major land battle of the Civil War and Union victory propelled General George B. McClellan to command of the Army of the Potomac. According to Shepard’s 19th OVI muster card, he spent three days on extra duty setting telegraph poles, mustering out of the unit in August 1861. He re-enlisted in the 11th Independent Battery, New York Light Artillery on the 18th of September 1861 for three years. On Aug. 26, 1862, he was captured with 19 other soldiers from the 11th IBNYA at the Second Battle of Bull Run also known as Second Manassas. During October and November 1862 he is listed with the 7th Detachment, 2nd Battalion, Paroled Prisoners, at Annapolis, Maryland. After returning to the 11th IBNYA in December 1862 he was promoted to Corporal in January 1863.
Corporal Shepard’s unit was transferred to the Reserve Artillery and attached temporarily to Battery K, 1st New York Light Artillery. Shepard also saw action at Chancellorsville, Gettysburg and the Battle of Mine Run. Corporal Shepard was discharged and re-enlisted on the 8th of February, 1864 in the 11th IBNYA at Brandy Station, Va. as a veteran volunteer. He was again discharged in April 1864 after petitioning the Army for a transfer to the Navy.
He then enlisted in the Navy on April 25, 1864 at Baltimore, Maryland. He served aboard the USS Allegheny, USS Wabash, USS Commodore Perry, and the USS Constellation. During his service aboard the Wabash he participated in the landing party that assaulted Fort Fisher in Wilmington, N.C. in January 1865, its remaining forts in the Cape Fear area, and Union forces soon overtook Wilmington. Once Wilmington fell, the supply line of the Confederacy was severed, and the war soon ended.
Lewis was later presented with the Medal of Honor in recognition of his service. Where his citation reads:
Served as Seaman on board the U.S.S. Wabash in the assault on Fort Fisher, 15 January 1865. Advancing gallantly through severe enemy fire while armed only with a revolver and cutlass which made it impossible to return the fire at that range, Shepard succeeded in reaching the angle of the fort and in going on, to be one of the few who entered the fort. When the rest of the men to his rear were forced to retreat under devastating fire, he was forced to withdraw due to lack of support and seek the shelter of one of the mounds near the stockade from which point he succeeded in regaining the safety of his ship.
Lewis Shepard is interred at Lakeview Cemetery in Port Clinton.
On this Medal of Honor Day, and every day, the Ottawa County Veterans Service Office thanks Mr. Shepard and all Medal of Honor recipients for their service to our country.


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