SPRINGFIELD, IL (03/24/2015)(readMedia)-- March 25, marks National Medal of Honor Day. On July 12, 1862; President Abraham Lincoln signed a bill into law on behalf of Congress, creating the Army Medal of Honor. The bill stated, "to such noncommissioned officers and privates as shall most distinguish themselves by their gallantry in action, and other soldier-like qualities during the present insurrection." In 1863, the medal became a permanent military decoration available to all ranks and branches of the American Armed Forces. Today, the President in the name of Congress presents the Medal of Honor. One hundred and thirteen of the more than 3,400-awarded medals belong to Soldiers of the Illinois National Guard, previously known as the Illinois Militia.

One hundred and fifty years ago this April 2 during the American Civil War, the fierce fighting in Petersburg, Va. drew to a close. Meanwhile fighting began at Fort Blakely, Ala. onApril 2 and lasted until the ninth. Grant's efforts at Petersburg led to the fall of Richmond, Va., the Confederate Capitol, effectively ending the war.

As the sesquicentennial of the Civil War enters the final month, the Illinois National Guard remembers and highlights the following Soldiers from those battles who received the Medal of Honor (MoH):

• Cpl. Abner P. Allen of Woodford County, Ill., entered service at Bloomington, Ill., enlisted in Co. K, 39th Ill. Inf., awarded MoH for action at Petersburg, Va., issued May 12, 1865.

• Pvt. John H. Callahan of Shelby County, Ky., entered service at Macoupin County, Ill., enlisted in Co. B, 122nd Ill. Inf., awarded MoH for action at Fort Blakely, Ala., issued June 8, 1865.

• Cpl. Patrick Highland of Ireland, entered service at Chicago, Ill., enlisted in Co. D, 23rd Ill. Inf., awarded MoH for action at Petersburg, Va., issued May 12, 1865.

• Cpt. Samuel McConnell of Belmont County, Ohio, entered service at Bushnell, McDonough County, Ill., enlisted in Co. H, 119th Ill., Inf., awarded MoH for action at Fort Blakely, Ala., issued April 9, 1865.

• Sgt. Thomas McGraw of Ireland, entered service at Chicago, Ill., enlisted in Co. B, 23rd Ill Inf., awarded MoH for action at Petersburg, Va., issued May 12, 1865.

• Cpt. Henry A. Miller of Germany, entered service at Decatur, Ill., enlisted in Co. B, 8th Ill. Inf., awarded MoH for action at Fort Blakeley, Ala., issued June 8, 1865.

• 1 Lt. Thomas H. L. Payne of Boston, Mass., entered service at Mendota, La Salle County, Ill., enlisted in Co. E, 37th Ill. Inf., awarded MoH for action at Fort Blakely, Ala., issued April 1, 1898.

• Cpt. Patrick H. Pentzer of Marion County, Mo., entered service at Gillespie, Macoupin County, Ill., enlisted in Co. C, 97th Ill. Inf., awarded MoH for action at Fort Blakely, Ala., issued October 9, 1879.

• Sgt. George F. Rebmann of Schuyler County Ill., entered service at Browning, Schuyler County Ill., enlisted in Co. B, 119th Ill. Inf., awarded MoH for action at Fort Blakely, Ala., issued June 8, 1865.

• Lt. Col. Victor Vifquain of Belgium, entered service in Saline County, Neb., served in 97th Ill. Inf., awarded MoH for action at Fort Blakely, Ala., issued June 8, 1865. (Awarded another MoH for action during the Spanish American War of 1898).

• Lt. Col. Loyd Wheaton of Calhoun County, Mich., entered service in Ill., served in 8th Ill. Inf., awarded MoH for action at Fort Blakely, Ala., issued January 16, 1894.

• Pvt. John Whitmore of Brown County, Ill., entered service in Camden, Schuyler County, Ill., enlisted in Co. F, 119th Ill. Inf., awarded MoH for action at Fort Blakely, Ala., issued June 8, 1865.

The Illinois State Military Museum displays the MoH belonging to 1st Sgt. Johannes S. Anderson of Finland. He entered service from Chicago, served in Co. B, 132nd Inf., 33rd Div., awarded the MoH for actions at Consenvoye, France during World War I. This medal is also one of the 113 presented to Illinois National Guard Soldiers. The museum is at 1301 N. MacArthur Blvd., Springfield, Ill. Museum hours are Saturday through Friday from 1:00 to 4:30.

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