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Monadnock Moment No. 194
Era 5: Civil War and Reconstruction - 1850 to 1877
Knight's Gallant Charge
Although many thousand New Hampshire men fought in our country's Civil War, only forty-six of these men earned the nation's highest military award, the Congressional Medal of Honor. Only one of these forty-six men, Charles H. Knight, was a resident of Cheshire County.
Charles Knight was born in Keene and was a twenty-three year old resident of the town when he enlisted to fight in the Civil War in 1862. Knight served as a corporal with Company I of the 9th New Hampshire Regiment of Infantry. On July 30, 1864, the 9th Regiment was engaged in the Battle of the Crater during the siege of Petersburg. During the battle the regiment charged the Confederate line. Knight and a Sergeant Simonds led the charge, far in front of the other Union soldiers. Just before they reached the enemy line, Knight was shot in the hand and Sergeant Simonds was wounded and fell. Knight continued on, however, and was the first man over the enemy works where he single-handedly took several prisoners.
After the battle Knight was taken to a hospital in Washington. The thumb and index finger on his right hand were amputated and he could not close the remaining fingers. He could no longer fight and at the age of twenty-five Knight was discharged from the service and came home to Keene.
In 1865 Knight's commanding general, John G. Parke, recommended Knight for the Medal of Honor for courage and gallantry during the Battle of the Crater. No action was taken, however, and the recommendation was made again in 1887. Finally, on July 27, 1896, almost exactly thirty-two years after the battle, Charles H. Knight received the only Medal of Honor awarded to a Civil War Veteran from Cheshire County.