Horatio Nelson Young
November 16, 1863
Horatio Nelson Young’s parents had great hopes for their son when they named him at his birth on July 19, 1845.
He didn’t disappoint them.
Young grew up in Calais.
When the Civil War broke out, the teenager traveled to Boston, where he enlisted as a seaman in the U.S. Navy.
In 1863 he was assigned to the USS Lehigh, a steam-powered, 1,335-ton, ironclad monitor launched in April of that year. The ship looked like a hatbox on a raft, but she mounted two of the most powerful and modern cannon of the day, a fifteen-inch Dahlgren smoothbore and an eight-inch Parrot rifle. Young’s assignment to such a new ship indicated that he had already distinguished himself as a seaman.
In August, the Lehigh joined the Union fleet attacking Charleston Harbor, in South Carolina, where the war had begun with the attack on Fort Sumter two years earlier.
In an attack to re-rake Fort Sumter on November 16, the Lehigh ran aground near Sullivan Island. Confederate guns from Fort Moultrie rained shot after shot toward the Lehigh.
Another ironclad, the USS Nahant, approached to pull the Lehigh clear of the sandbar, but several attempts to pass a line between the two ships failed as Confederate artillery rained shells down on the two ships.
On board the Lehigh, Young volunteered for the task.
Braving the cannon fire, the 18-year-old Mainer maneuvered a small boat carrying a line to the Nahant. The Lehigh was then towed free with little damage.
For his bravery under fire, Young was award the Congressional Medal of Honor. Although he never gained the rank of his namesake, Horatio Nelson, Young did survive the war. He returned to Calais, where he died on July 3, 1913.
- Photo of Young at: http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=7189997
- Photos of USS Lehigh at: http://www.history.navy.mil/photos/sh-usn/usnsh-l/lehigh.htm