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Hindsight is notably clever than foresight.  Admiral Chester Nimitz

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8 Reasons You Need to Stay Fit After Age 50

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Celebrating the Month of March
Over 150 years ago the Medal of Honor was established in March 1863.  We are choosing to highlight the story of one of those recipients.
 
A 24-year-old farmer from Greater Cincinnati enlisted into the Ohio Volunteer Militia, a precursor to the Ohio National Guard, on June 7, 1863, presumably, to fight the Confederacy under the banner of freedom.
 
For Powhatan Beaty, who grew up a slave in Richmond, Virginia, what would that fight for freedom mean, given that over 4 million of his fellow black Americans were still enslaved?  It likely meant an end to 200 whiplashes in a day, the branding, the rattle of shackles and chains, the severance from family sold, the sexual assault of loved ones, the friends hanged or burned alive or shot by firing squad, the mutilations or the solitary confinement in a hot box.
 
For Powhatan Beaty, who stood 5 feet 7 inches tall and had a promising career as an actor and playwright ahead of him, what would that fight for freedom mean for his immediate future, given that over 620,000 men died and many more were wounded, some maimed for life, in the Civil War?
 
It likely meant carnage and maybe worse: the ground-shaking artillery barrages, the shattered bodies, the wound infections, the bone-sawing amputations, the nightmares of shell shock, the chills of yellow fever, the smallpox lesions, the dehydration, and the malnutrition.  Still, Beaty was both ready and there for his country, willing to answer the call in the face of war and its probable horrors.
 
By the Battle of Chaffin's Farm in Virginia on Sept. 29, 1864, Beaty had climbed to the rank of first sergeant in Company G.  His regiment was part of a division of black Soldiers assigned to attack the heart of Confederate defenses at New Market Heights.
 
The attack was met with extraordinary Confederate fire and was repelled. Company G's color bearer was killed during the retreat, so Beaty returned through 600 yards of enemy fire to recover the flag.  The regiment had suffered severe casualties in the failed charge.  Of Company G's eight officers and 83 enlisted men who entered the fight, only 16 enlisted men, including Beaty, survived the attack unwounded.  With all officers killed or disabled, Beaty took command of the company and led it on a second charge toward the rebel lines.  The second attack successfully pushed the Confederates from their fortified positions.
 
General Benjamin Butler commended Beaty on the battlefield for his actions, and, seven months later, on April 6, 1865, Beaty was awarded the Medal of Honor.
 
Beaty continued to distinguish himself during the war. His heroics during the Battle of Fair Oaks in October 1864 earned him an acknowledgment in the general orders to the Army of the Potomac.  Colonel Giles Shurtleff, the regimental commander, twice recommended Beaty for promotion to commissioned officer, yet nothing came of the requests.

 

 
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