2012 45¢ Four Flags Coil
Issue Date: February 22, 2012
City: Washington, DC
Printed By: Avery Dennison
Printing Method: Photogravure
Arthur MacArthur was an 18-year-old first lieutenant fighting with the 24th Wisconsin Infantry in Tennessee during the Civil War. The soldiers in his company chose to attack a Confederate stronghold against all odds of winning.
The Confederate Army had control of Missionary Ridge and was overpowering the Union troops below. MacArthur and his company were instructed to attack the center line as a distraction. When their mission was complete, they did not pull back as expected. Instead, they rushed the slope.
After two flag bearers were killed, MacArthur raised the banner himself. With a shout of “On Wisconsin!” he surged up the hill and planted the flag at the top. The sight of the ragged symbol gave courage to the soldiers who followed their lieutenant and captured the Ridge.
When General Philip H. Sheridan heard the reports of MacArthur’s bravery, he told the 24th Wisconsin to “Take care of him. He has just won the Medal of Honor.” Arthur was awarded the rank of major, then became the youngest colonel in the Union Army within a few months, at the age of 19.
On the battlefield, bravery is not a product of age or experience. Arthur MacArthur’s gallant fight for his flag showed he was equal to the task despite his youth. Years later, his son, General Douglas MacArthur, would also be awarded the Medal of Honor. To date they are the only father and son to do so.