Captain George N. Bliss, Army


Bliss, American Civil War Medal of Honor Recipient


Captain George N. Bliss was in command of Company C, 1st Rhode Island Cavalry, which was serving as the provost guard near Waynesboro, Virginia, on 28 September 1864. While patrolling, he observed the Union lines retreating before the attack of a greatly superior force of Confederates. He tried to rally his men and, without orders, joined in the defense of the Union lines and charged the enemy. Captain Bliss was soon alone in attacking the enemy, with his supporting Soldiers either wounded or unable to follow. Captain Bliss advanced, slashing through Confederate lines until surrounded. He received three saber wounds, was clubbed, and his horse was shot from under him.


Taken prisoner, Captain Bliss received medical attention from one of the Soldiers he wounded during his charge. Captain Bliss was then transferred to Libby Prison for four months and placed on a list of prisoners to be executed as a reprisal for Confederate Soldiers killed by Union forces. He described the prison food as both meager and the vilest food I ever ate. Escaping execution, Captain Bliss was returned to Union forces during a prisoner exchange. Years after the Civil War, he would accept invitations from his former captors and make frequent visits to the South. He was recognized for his brave charge years later and was awarded the Medal of Honor on 3 August 1897.


The Medal of Honor is the highest military decoration awarded by the United States government and is bestowed on a member of the United States armed forces who distinguishes himself conspicuously by gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while engaged in an action against an enemy of the United States Due to the nature of this medal, it is commonly presented posthumously.