About John, Dr. Morris Duff, M.D.
Civil War Heroism:
Full text of "The Whitney family of Connecticut, and its affiliations; being an attempt to trace the descendants, as well in the female as the male lines, of Henry Whitney, from 1649 to 1878;"
Martha Janet Whitney, b. at Barre, N.Y., 10 Ap. 1846; married at Churchville, in Riga, N. Y., 6 March 1870, by Rev. N. Jones, Meth. Epis., to John Morris Duff, a physician, who was born at Hartland, N. Y., 29 Aug. 1 843, son of John and Laura (Sprague) Duff. He graduated at Buffalo Medical College, 22 Feb. 1870; settled at Gaines, Penn.; moved thence, i Aug. 1872, to Alabama Centre, N. Y.; and from there, 16 May 1874, went to Royalton, N. Y., where they were living, without children, in Sept. 1874. He enlisted at Hulberton, N. Y., 11 Aug. 1862, in Co. K, 129th Reg., N. Y. S. Vol. Infantry. The regiment was changed to the 8th Heavy Artillery, in the Winter of 1 862-1 863, while stationed at Baltimore, Md. He was with his regiment, and doing duty the whole time, without sickness or wounds, till mustered out at Bailey's Cross Roads, Va., 21 June 1865. He took part in the battles of Spottsylvania, Cold Harbor, and Petersburgh, 16-22 June 1864, and in nearly all the battles about Peters- burgh, till the close of the war.
At the battle of Cold Harbor, their Colonel, Peter A. Porter, was killed while leading his regiment against the enemy's works; and his body remained where he fell, until recovered by a party of five men who volun- teered for that purpose, to wit : " Lieut, (then Sergeant) Leroy Williams, of Batavia, N. Y.; and privates Glen S. Hicks, of Lima, N. Y.; John Morris Duff, of Albion, N. Y.; Samuel Traviss, of Lockport, N. Y.; and Walter Harwood, of Baltimore." They each received from the Century Club of New York City, a medal of solid gold, about two inches in diameter, one presented to Mr. Duff bore the following inscription:
"A Tribute of 'The Century' to PRIVATE JOHN DUFF, For a rare act of heroic devotion in rescuing the body of Colonel Peter A. Porter, 8th New York Cavalry, From under the guns of the enemy, Cold Harbor, June 3, 1864."
The reverse represents soldiers in the act of bearing the body of a fallen comrade from the field of battle.
Each medal was accompanied by the following letter:
"Century Rooms, June 3, 1865. "To Private John Morris Duff, Eighth Regiment New York Artillery:
" 'The Century,' an association of the literary men and artists of New York, admiring whatever is noble in character or action, has caused this medal to be prepared and presented to you.
" Colonel Peter A. Porter, your late commander, our associate, was respected by us for his manly qualities, loved for his kindness and accomplishments, and lamented for his untimely but glorious death.
"Your bravery and devotion in bringing his body from under the enemy's guns to an honorable grave, have won our admiration and gratitude.
" We present this medal as a testimonial to you and your posterity, of the honor in which courage in the discharge of duty is held by all men.
" George Bancroft, President.
" Augustus R. Macdonough, Secretary."
General Hancock, who was selected to present the medals, said : " It is a source of infinite gratification to me that I have been selected by ' The Century' to present you each with a golden medal, commemora- tive of the heroism displayed by you in rescuing from the sanguinary battle-field of Cold Harbor the body of your gallant and distinguished commander. Col. P. A. Porter, of the 8th New York Heavy Artillery, who had been killed while intrepidly leading his regiment to the charge against the enemy's works. This noble action was voluntarily performed by you under the close and deadly fire of the enemy, at the utmost peril of your lives.
" I then had the honor to command the 2d Army Corps, to which your gallant regiment was attached ; and I know full well the dangers attending the valorous deed, in the performance of which you exhibited the noblest qualities of the soldier. The records of battles scarcely present an instance in which assaulting columns approached so close to the enemy as did ours at Cold Harbor, without complete success ; and probably not one in which the brave assailants held so tenaciously and defiantly the ground they had gained ; nor one in which it was more hazardous to perform the chivalrous act, in commemoration of which these chaste and beautiful medals have been struck. They are appropriate rewards for your fearless valor and devotion, and are worthy of 'The Century' and the occasion which called them forth. They should be preserved and transmitted by each of you, as a high and priceless honor.
" For your devotion to your Colonel, and for your heroic s^vices in rescuing his body from under the guns of the enemy, accept the thanks of his relatives and friends ; and accept these medals from the ' Century Club' as testimonials of their high appreciation of Colonel Porter's charac- ter, and of your bold achievement in the hazardous enterprise. Keep them while you live, and transmit them to your children, to be preserved as a memorial of those services."
This site also contains the previous information, but with pictures of the medal.