William Henry Freeman
Civil War Soldier
Medal of Honor Recipient
Freeman was employed as a brass molder before enlisting in Company B of the 169th NY Volunteer Infantry (known as “The Second Troy Regiment”) in early 1863. Among other campaigns, that regiment participated in the 1864 operations against Fort Fisher, NC, which was an immense sand fortification that guarded the inlet to Wilmington, NC, the last major open Confederate port on the Atlantic coast. At the final attack on that fortress on January 15, 1865, Alonzo Alden, the Colonel of the 169th NY was acting as commander of the brigade that was attacking the land wall of the fort. After the bearer of Alden’s personal flag was shot down, Private Freeman threw down his weapon and carried the brigadier’s flag through the remainder of the battle, making himself a prominent target.
Returning to Troy after his discharge, Freeman resumed his career as a molder, and was later employed as a janitor in the Post Office. On May 27, 1905, more than 40 years after the fact, Private William Freeman was awarded a Medal of Honor for his service at Fort Fisher. The official citation reads “Volunteered to carry the brigade flag after the bearer was wounded.”