William McKnight

This article is about the American Medal of Honor recipient. For the American businessman, see William L. McKnight. For the Canadian politician, see Bill McKnight.
William McKnight

Coxswain William McKnight
Born (1842-05-03)May 3, 1842
Ulster County, New York
Died November 4, 1914(1914-11-04) (aged 72)
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch United States Navy
Union Navy
Rank Master's mate
Unit USS Varuna
Battles/wars American Civil War
*Battle of Forts Jackson and St. Philip
Awards Medal of Honor

William McKnight (May 3, 1842 November 4, 1914) was a United States Navy sailor and a recipient of America's highest military decoration—the Medal of Honor—for his actions in the American Civil War.

During the Civil War, William McKnight served in the U.S. Navy as a Coxswain. On April 24, 1862, as a gun captain on board USS Varuna (1861), he participated in combat against Confederate ships as the Federal fleet fought its way past the fortifications protecting the approaches to New Orleans, Louisiana. For his conduct during this event, Coxswain McKnight was awarded the Medal of Honor.

Medal of Honor citation

Rank and Organization:

Coxswain, U.S. Navy. Born: 1842 Ulster County, N.Y. Accredited to: New York. G.O. No.: 11, 3 April 1863.


Captain of a gun on board the U.S.S. Varuna during the attacks on Forts Jackson and St. Philip and in action against the rebel ship CSS Governor Moore, 24 April 1862. During this action at extremely close range, while his ship was under furious fire and was twice rammed by the rebel ship Morgan, McKnight remained steadfast at his gun throughout the thickest of the fight and was instrumental in inflicting damage on the enemy until the Varuna, so badly damaged that she was forced to beach, was finally sunk.[1]

See also


  1. "McKNIGHT, WILLIAM , Civil War Medal of Honor recipient". American Civil War website. 2007-11-08. Retrieved 2007-11-08.


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