|Butler Medal, front and back|
Butler Medal, obverse and reverse
|Awarded by United States Army|
The Butler Medal was a military decoration of a unit of the United States Army which was first created on October 11, 1864. The medal was created under the authority of Major General Benjamin Butler and was intended to recognize meritorious or heroic acts of bravery performed by African American soldiers fighting for the United States of America in the American Civil War.
By 1865, the Butler Medal had been presented to nearly two hundred African American Union soldiers, all of whom were serving in the Army of the James. The medal was originally known as the Colored Troops Medal but the name was changed to Butler Medal after the close of the Civil War.
The Butler Medal appeared as a red, white, and blue ribbon suspended from a clasp reading "Army of the James". Attached to the ribbon was a gold medallion detailing African American troops moving forward in battle. The obverse inscription in Latin reads, "Freedom Will be Theirs by the Sword."
In the modern military, the Butler Medal is considered obsolete. Like the Gillmore Medal, the Kearny Cross and a number of other awards of the conflict, it was a unit-specific Civil War medal. By army standards it is an unofficial decoration, although one of the oldest issued to members of the service.