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Stivers may try Trump for Civil War vet's promotion

By Steve Robb, The Athens Messenger

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Washington, January 31, 2017 | comments
President Barack Obama apparently did not grant a posthumous promotion before leaving office to a Civil War soldier who was denied the rank of captain because he was black.
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President Barack Obama apparently did not grant a posthumous promotion before leaving office to a Civil War soldier who was denied the rank of captain because he was black.

The soldier, Congressional Medal of Honor winner Milton Holland, enlisted in the Union army from Athens County.

In November, Congressmen Steve Stivers (R-OH) and Al Green (D-Texas) wrote a letter to Obama asking that the president use his power as commander in chief to grant the promotion.

“We did not receive a response to our letter from President Obama,” Stivers spokesman Tim Alford said last week. “However, Congressman Stivers is planning to continue pursuing this with President Trump.”

The Messenger reached out to Green by email last week for comment but did not receive a response.

Holland won the Congressional Medal of Honor for his actions at the battle of New Market Heights/Chaffin’s Farm in Virginia.

“When all the white officers had been killed or wounded in battle, Holland commanded his company to victory, demonstrating acts of heroism that would earn him the Medal of Honor and a recommendation from his commanding officer, Major General Benjamin Butler, that he be promoted to the rank of Captain,” the congressmen wrote to Obama. “However, the U.S. Department of War denied this commission due to discriminatory policies that limited the officer ranks to whites only.”

The two congressmen have twice introduced legislation “to correct this wrong,” according to the letter, but the House Armed Services Committee defers commission requests to the Department of the Army.

“However, despite the existing evidence that supports our claims and the opinion from the Army’s chief historian ... the Army ... continues to demand an unreasonable breadth of additional supporting documentation..,” the letter to Obama stated.

Holland, who was born a slave in Texas, had been sent to Athens County with two of his brothers to attend the Albany Manual Labor University. He enlisted in the Union Army in 1863, and was among four black sergeants who received the Congressional Medal of Honor for “gallantly” leading their company in the 1864 battle of New Market Heights, near Richmond, after their white officers were killed or wounded.

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Tags: Veterans