Featured Character – 1861-1862
During the Battle of Elizabeth City, Union Gunner’s Mate John Davis of the USS Valley City sat on an open keg of gunpowder to keep sparks from igniting when a Confederate shell hit the fireworks locker, setting it on fire. Davis kept passing up gunpowder while sitting on the keg in order to keep the vessel and all on board safe from danger of explosion. Recognizing this heroic act, the Secretary of Navy appointed the Finlander to the rank of acting-gunner, raising his salary from $300 to $1,000 per year. Citizens of New York, admiring Davis, raised and presented to him $1,100. He was also the first Navy seaman to be presented with the Congressional Medal of Honor for his actions. It is inscribed, "Personal Valor-John Davis, Gunner’s Mate, USS Valley City, Albemarle Sound, February 10, 1862."