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Compatriot Medal of Honor Recipients

Byron Mac Cutcheon

Byron Mac Cutcheon

Byron Mac Cutcheon was born on May 11, 1836, in Pembroke, Merrimack County, New Hampshire. He was orphaned at an early age, attended local schools, worked in the cotton mill to earn money, entered Pembroke Academy, taught school for several years, and then moved to Ypsilanti, Michigan. In 1855, he was principal of the Birmingham Academy in Oakland County and then graduated from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor in 1861. Before graduating, Cutcheon had become the principal and was a professor of ancient languages, higher mathematics, and mental and moral philosophy in the Ypsilanti High School in 1861 and 1862.

He was principal of the Ypsilanti High School when he answered President Lincoln’s call and enlisted in the Union Army and help raise a company for the Twentieth Regiment, Michigan Infantry who mustered him into service as a second lieutenant. He quickly rose in rank.

During his service, Cutcheon fought in twenty-five major battles and engagements. He was wounded at the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House while leading a charge and was hospitalized for about two months. For his gallant conduct on this occasion, he received a commission as brevet colonel. For his conspicuous gallantry at the battle of the Wilderness at Horseshoe Bend, Kentucky, on March 13, 1865, Cutcheon received a commission as a brevet brigadier general. Byron Cutcheon commanded the Second Brigade, Second Division, Ninth Army Corps, from October 16, 1864, until his resignation on March 6, 1865. He returned to Michigan to study law and graduated from the University of Michigan Law School in 1866.

In 1882, Cutcheon was elected as a Republican from Michigan’s 9th Congressional district to the Forty-eighth Congress and served for three succeeding Congresses from March 4, 1883, to March 3, 1891. In the Fifty-second Congress, Byron Cutcheon served as chairman of the Committee on Military Affairs. He was defeated in reelection in 1890 to the Fifty-second Congress.

Major Byron M. Cutcheon was awarded a Medal of Honor by Congress on June 29, 1891, “for distinguished gallantry at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend, Ky., May 10, 1863.” His citation reads, “Distinguished gallantry in leading his regiment in a charge on a house occupied by the enemy.”

While he was a member of Congress, Cutcheon became a member of the District of Columbia SAR. His National number is 2123 and his D.C. Society number is 323.

President Harrison appointed Byron Cutcheon as a civilian member of the Board of Ordnance and Fortifications in July 1891 and Cutcheon served until March 25, 1895. He returned to Michigan and resumed his law practice in Grand Rapids. He also served as an editorial writer for the and from 1895 until 1897. He died on April 12, 1908, in Ypsilanti at the age of seventy-one and is buried in Highland Cemetery.

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