( 1836 - unknown )
Fired on by the enemy with small arms, Quartermaster Hand, U.S. Navy, while serving on the USS Ceres in the Roanoke River near Hamilton, North Carolina, courageously returned the raking fire and was spoken of for "good conduct and cool bravery under enemy fire," by his commanding officer.
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Born in Delaware in 1836, "Alexander Hand" enlisted in the U.S. Navy in May, 1861 for three years. He was noted as being 5 foot 9 inches tall, dark complexioned and had blue eyes.
Alexander was assigned briefly to the USS Allegheny, USS Brandywine, and the Washington (D.C.) Navy Yard before being assigned to the USS Ceres on September 1, 1861. The USS Ceres was a 4th rate screw steamer of 144 tons with a 40 man crew. It was armed with one rifled 30-Pounder and one 32-Pounder gun.
The USS Ceres was assigned to Major General Ambrose Burnside during his expedition to the Hatteras Inlets in North Carolina. The expedition was assigned to land 15,000 soldiers in the rear of the main Confederate Army and disrupt their supply lines.
On the morning of February 8, 1862 the USS Ceres opened fire on Fort Barlow at Pork Point, North Carolina with its 32-Pounder and on Rebel Steamers with its rifled 30-Pounder. While loading the 32-Pounder, Alexandar Hand was slightly wounded by the premature discharge of the gun. Overwhelmed by the landing of Union troops and outgunned, the Confederates gave up 40 pieces of artillery and 3,000 prisoners.
After this initial assult, mopping up expeditition continued through out the summer months. On July 9 a show of force was deemed necessary in front of the town of Hamilton and the USS Ceres along with other ships steamed toward that destination.
Leaving their base in Plymouth, North Carolina the ships chugged on past the towns of Williamson and Jamesville on their 40 mile journey to Hamilton. They had not gone far when then were fired on by thick lines of Rebel sharpshooters on both sides of the banks of the river. The ships returned the fire for two hours while moving onward toward their appointed destination. During this fire 2 men were killed and 10 were wounded. When they finally reached Hamilton it was deserted.
For his part Quartermaster Hand had courageously returned the fire of the sharpshooters during the attacks and was commended by his commander for his brave conduct. This commander recommend Hand and 2nd class Firemen John Kelley for the Medal of Honor.
On April 3, 1863, General Order #11 came down bestowing the Medal of Honor on Alexander Hand making him one of the first honorees of the medal. Two months later Hand was discharged.
After his discharge from the Navy Hand entered the 1st Delaware Infantry as a substitute. It appears that he spent his entire Army service in the hospital from the injuries received in the Navy.
By 1879 Hand was living on the farm of Halbert Hoffman of Baltimore County, Maryland. By 1880 the last trace of him was reported as receiving a pension of $6.00 a month.
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Last update: March 27, 2014