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USCIS Lawrence, Massachusetts Field Office and Application Support Center

Army Sergeant Thomas Plunkett - Civil War

Thomas Plunkett was born in Ireland in 1839, settling in West Boylston, Massachusetts with his parents in 1844. Proud of his new homeland, the 22-year-old Plunkett left his job in a shoe factory and enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1861.

Months later, Plunkett's unit, the 21st Infantry, Massachusetts Volunteers, was in the thick of battle in Chantilly, Virginia. 

In the summer of 1862 Plunkett was at the Battle of Fredericksburg, Virginia. Seeing his regiment’s color bearer fall, Plunkett seized the colors and moved to the front of the charge. A shell explodes inches in front of him, severing his right arm. A fragment from the blast bounces off a book in Plunkett's breast pocket, shredding his left arm also. For this action, he would later receive the Medal of Honor from President Andrew Johnson in 1866. 

Plunkett is brought back to a field hospital, and survives as a double-amputee. He moves from military hospitals in Washington and New York, eventually home to Boston, where he died on March 10, 1885 in Boston, at the age of 46.

This text is from the official citations, military historical records, obituaries and other text posted on the Internet, including HomeOfHeroes.com, and the Military Times Hall of Valor. 

Last Reviewed/Updated: 03/25/2011