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         The First Capitol Detachment of the Marine Corps League will hold a remembrance ceremony for Medal of Honor recipient Sergeant John Henry Denig. The service will be held at Denig’s burial site at Prospect Hill Cemetery on Thursday, August 5th, 2021 at 10 a.m. Members of the public are invited to attend. Attendees are encouraged to park at the cemetery’s main office; signs leading to Sgt. Denig’s gravesite will be posted. Additional inquiries can be directed to organizer Dave Brady (First Capitol Detachment #521, Marine Corps League, York County, PA) at 717-600-6329. In the case of excessive rain, the ceremony will be canceled.

         John H. Denig was born in York on September 8, 1838. He enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps, and during the Civil War served on the USS Brooklyn. His vessel was part of the West Gulf Blockading Squadron under Admiral David Farragut. Denig received the Medal of Honor for his heroic actions on August 5, 1864 at Mobile Bay. Twenty-two other men aboard the Brooklyn were so honored, including Denig and three fellow Marines.

         Denig’s citation, issued December 31, 1864, by the Navy Department as General Order Number 45, reads: “On board the USS Brooklyn during action against rebel forts and gunboats and with the ram Tennessee, Mobile Bay, 5 August 1864. Despite severe damage to his ship and the loss of several men on board as enemy fire raked her decks, Sergeant Denig fought with his gun using skill and courage throughout the furious two-hour battle which resulted in the surrender of the rebel ram Tennessee and in the damaging and destruction of batteries at Fort Morgan.”

         The Battle of Mobile Bay was a significant victory for the Union. Mobile had been the last important port on the Gulf of Mexico east of the Mississippi River remaining in Confederate possession. Therefore, its closure was essential in completing the blockade in that region. The Medal of Honor was created during the Civil War to recognize unusual gallantry in combat. The first recipients were Ohio soldiers, but a few soldiers from York County would receive the medal for their heroism during the Civil War.

          Prospect Hill Cemetery serves as the final resting place for more than 1,000 Civil War soldiers. A second Medal of Honor recipient, Sgt. Charles Henry Ilgenfritz, is also buried on cemetery grounds.