History: Being one of only sixteen African American soldiers to receive the Medal of Honor for courage under fire during the Civil War, Howard County native and Union soldier Decatur Dorsey exited the war as a true hero of our nation. In March of 1864 he was enrolled into the 39th United States Colored Infantry in Baltimore, Maryland after being released by his owner. By summer, he had been promoted to sergeant. Dorsey earned his medal at the Battle of the Crater at Petersburg, Virginia on July 30, 1864, bearing the regiment's flag during the charge towards Confederate lines.
More to Explore: You won't want to leave Howard County until you have visited the B&O Railroad Museum located at Ellicott City Station. You don't have to be a train enthusiast to appreciate the oldest surviving railroad station in the US, and the original terminus of the first 13 miles of commercial railroad in the country. Also be sure to check out other historic locations like the restored Ellicott City Colored School, the first public school for African American children in Howard County, or the Thomas Isaac log cabin, built around 1780 by an early settler of the area. An Ellicott City Firehouse Museum also displays a horse-drawn vehicle and artifacts from 19th-century fire-fighting.
- “4th Company of U.S. Colored Infantry at Fort Lincoln, 1864.” Courtesy of Library of Congress.
- “Medal of Honor 1862-1895, Army Version.”