Medal of Honor
Rank and organization: Brigadier General, U.S. Volunteers.
Place and date: At Gaines Mill, Va., June 27, 1862.
Entered service at: Washington, D.C.
Born: October 31, 1831, Utica, N.Y.
Date of issue: September 26, 1892.
The 1896 Pattern Medal of Honor was awarded to Daniel Butterfield, “for distinguished gallantry in action at Gaines Mills, Va. June 27, 1862”.
Citation: "Seized the colors of the 83d Pennsylvania Volunteers at a critical moment and, under a galling fire of the enemy, encouraged the depleted ranks to renewed exertion."
Daniel Butterfield was born on October 31, 1831, in Utica, New York, the son of John Butterfield of the Overland Mail Company. After graduation from Union College at the age of eighteen, he studied law, traveled extensively in the South, and entered business as superintendent of the eastern division of the American Express Company of which his father was part owner. Apparently he was in Washington at the time of the bombardment of Sumter, for on April 16, 1861, F. B. Heitman's Historical Register mentions his enrollment as first sergeant of the "Clay Guards" of that city. He was mustered into Federal service as colonel of the 12th New York Militia on May 2, 1861, the first Union regiment to set foot on Virginia soil (May 24). After service with General Robert Patterson at Martinsburg, Butterfield was appointed brigadier general of volunteers to rank from September 7, and assigned to command a brigade in George W. Morell's division of Fitz John Porter's V Corps. He was wounded at Gaines's Mill in the Peninsular campaign and thirty years later was awarded the Medal of Honor for his conduct on that day. Present at Second Manassas, his brigade was under the command of its senior colonel during the Maryland campaign, which culminated in the battle of Sharpsburg. Butterfield succeeded Morell as division commander on October 30, and after the removal of Porter, commanded the V Corps at Fredericksburg; he was appointed major general to rank from November 29, Upon Joseph Hooker's accession to command of the Army of the Potomac, Butterfield became his chief of staff and helped design the celebrated corps badges of the army. Continuing as chief of staff under General George G. Meade, Butterfield was severely wounded at Gettysburg. He subsequently engaged in an acrimonious debate with his chief over the meaning of Meade's famous order of July 1st (49) and in October accompanied Hooker to the western army. In the Atlanta campaign he commanded a division of the XX Corps before becoming ill; he saw no further field service after this. Meantime, he had been appointed a lieutenant colonel in the Regular Army in 1861 and colonel of the 5th Infantry on July 1, 1863. In 1865 he was brevetted brigadier and major general, U. S. Army. The general's postbellum career was notable for its multifarious business, military, and civic connections. Both before and after his resignation from the army in 1870, General Butterfield's name appeared countless times in the public eye—as a friend to General U. S. Grant, as a director of numerous corporations, and as an unofficial ambassador to several foreign countries. One of his most enduring claims to fame was the bugle call "Taps," which he composed at Harrison's Landing in 1862. He died in his summer home at Cold Spring, New York, on July 17, 1901. By special dispensation of the War Department, he was buried at West Point.
Reference: Generals in Blue. Lives of the Union Commanders by Ezra J. Warner. Louisiana State University Press. Baton Rouge.