William “Willie” Johnston
William “Willie” Johnston (born July 1850), from St. Johnsbury, Vermont, was a drummer boy in Company D of the 3rd Vermont Infantry. His service during the Seven Days retreat in the Peninsula Campaign was exemplary. He was the only drummer in his division to come away with his instrument, by no means a trivial accomplishment. As a result, he received theMedal of Honor on the recommendation of his division commander, thereby becoming the youngest recipient of the highest decoration at 13 years of age.
Johnston was born in Morristown, New York in 1850. Apparently his family moved to Salem, Vermont (now Derby). When his father enlisted in December, 1861, young Willie begged to go with him. The commanding officer agreed. He was enlisted as a drummer boy on December 11, 1861 in St. Johnsbury, Vermont. He was 11 years old and five feet tall.
Medal of Honor citation
The President of the United States
in the name of
takes pleasure in presenting the
Medal of Honor
JOHNSTON, WILLIAM “WILLIE”
Gallantry in Seven Day Battle and Peninsula campaign.