William Carney was born in New Bedford, Massachusetts. He was a member of Company C, 54th Massachusetts Colored Infantry. On July 18, 1863, during the Battle of Fort Wagner, South Carolina, nearly 37 years after the Civil War, he was cited for military valor. During the engagement by the all-Black 54th and 55th Massachusetts Regiments, Commander Robert G. Shaw was shot down. A few feet from where he fell laid Sergeant Carney. Summoning all of his strength, Carney held aloft the colors and continued the charge. Having been shot several times, he kept the colors flying high, and miraculously retreated his regiments. Although he made of his comrades did not. For in the deadly battle, over 1,500 Black troops died. On this day in 1900, Sergeant William H. Carney was issued the Congressional Medal of Honor, making him the first Black to ever win the coveted award. It should be noted that sixteen other black soldiers and four Black sailors eventually received the Congressional Medal of Honor for their heorics during the tragic epic in history.