As a World War II veteran and a collector of information about black recipients of the Medal of Honor, I was pleased to read in the May 31 Metro section that Havre de Grace had renamed a park in tribute to Civil War Sgt. Alfred B. Hilton, a Marylander.
But your paper erred regarding the number of black Civil War soldiers who received the award. The report put the number at 22, but the correct total is 18, including one presented posthumously to Cpl. Andrew Jackson Smith, a former slave, by former president Clinton on Jan. 16 of last year.
Seven black sailors also received the medal for Civil War gallantry and an eighth one -- Clement Dees -- deserted and had his forfeited under a Navy regulation whose validity I question.
Hilton was only one of 14 black soldiers who received the Medal of Honor for exemplary action during the Sept. 29, 1864, Battle of New Market Heights -- also known as Chapins or Chaffins Farm -- on the outskirts of Richmond. He was wounded there and died a few weeks later.
The only black native Washingtonian to receive the Medal of Honor was Pvt. Dennis Bell, who braved enemy fire to help rescue a number of wounded soldiers trapped in Cuba during the 1898 Spanish-American War. His plot at Arlington National Cemetery is not far from the Kennedy graves. As far as I know, the only recognition Bell has received was the naming of a unit in his honor in the Dwight D. Eisenhower Executive Nursing Suite at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
-- Preston E. Amos