The night of March 17, 1865, was one of the final battles of the Civil War. It saw Plymouth, NC’s Aaron Anderson, a U.S Navy landsman of 53 or 54 display such heroics, he was awarded the Medal of Honor. He served on USS Wyandank which was a part of the Potomac River Flotilla.
ATTACK ON MATTOX CREEK
Located on the Potomac River in Virginia, the Confederates had set up at Mattox Creek. Firstly, the Union arms a boat with a howitzer and staffs it with sailors. It sets off from the USS Don led by Ensign Summers. Anderson and other landsmen handled the oars. The sailors weren’t alone as seventy soldiers headed up Mattox Creek by foot. In addition, the South’s snipers were in effect. While they were keen shots, the Union foot soldiers manage to get through.
The sailors came under fire from some 400 Confederate troops on the riverbank. The boat’s commander, an Ensign Summers ordered Aaron Anderson and crew to sail towards the empty Confederate boats so he could sabotage them. Enemy fire was intense and the boat began taking on water from damage. Anderson and others steered the boat down the creek with the support of the other landsmen dumping water.
Boatswain mate Patrick Mullen turns the howitzer on Confederate troops on the river bed. The Union force manages to escape thanks to quick maneuvering. As for casualties, there is only one injured.
MEDAL OF HONOR
Ensign Summers stated that Landsman Aaron Anderson and boatswain mate Patrick Mullen showed nerves of steel in a dangerous situation. His citation read:
“Served on board the U.S.S. Wyandank during a boat expedition up Mattox Creek, March 17, 1865. Participating with a boat crew in the clearing of Mattox Creek, L/man Anderson carried out his duties courageously in the face of a devastating fire which cut away half the oars, pierced the launch in many places and cut the barrel off a musket being fired at the enemy.”