Sgt. Leonidas M. Godley, Medal of Honor

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Leonidas Mahlon Godley

Birthplace: Mason, Virginia
Death: Died in Ottumwa Wapello County Iowa
Place of Burial: Ottumwa Cemetery Ottumwa Wapello County Iowa
Immediate Family:

Son of Mahlon Godley and Nancy Godley
Husband of Julia Ann Godley
Father of Martha Ryan; Terasita Ryan; Charles Louis Godley and Henry Godley
Brother of Edward Godley; Walter Melton Godley; Mary E Godley; Virginia Godley; Milton Lewis Godley and 2 others

Managed by: Private User
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About Sgt. Leonidas M. Godley, Medal of Honor


Led his company in the assault on the enemy's works and gained the parapet, there receiving 3 very severe wounds. He lay all day in the sun, was taken prisoner, and had his leg amputated without anesthetics.

Leonidas Mahlon Godley (June 13, 1836 – May 23, 1904) was a Union Army soldier during the American Civil War. He received the Medal of Honor for gallantry during the Siege of Vicksburg on May 22, 1863.

On May 22, 1863, General Ulysses S. Grant ordered an assault on the Confederate heights at Vicksburg, Mississippi. The plan called for a storming party of volunteers to build a bridge across a moat and plant scaling ladders against the enemy embankment in advance of the main attack. The volunteers knew the odds were against survival and the mission was called, in nineteenth century vernacular, a "forlorn hope". Only single men were accepted as volunteers and even then, twice as many men as needed came forward and were turned away. The assault began in the early morning following a naval bombardment.

The Union soldiers came under enemy fire immediately and were pinned down in the ditch they were to cross. Despite repeated attacks by the main Union body, the men of the forlorn hope were unable to retreat until nightfall. Of the 150 men in the storming party, nearly half were killed. Seventy-nine of the survivors were awarded the Medal of Honor.

Discharged after amputation of his left leg, Leonidas Godley returned to Ashland, Iowa until 1874 when he moved to Ottumwa. There he was elected to eight consecutive terms as county clerk. In 1883 he was appointed revenue agent, and the following year was named a deputy in the same office.

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Sgt. Leonidas M. Godley, Medal of Honor's Timeline

Mason, Virginia
Age 29
Age 35
Age 37
Ottumwa Wapello County Iowa
Age 41
Age 68
Ottumwa Wapello County Iowa
Ottumwa Cemetery Ottumwa Wapello County Iowa