EIGHTEEN-YEAR-OLD Horatio Nelson Young rescued a 1,335-ton Civil War sea vessel and its crew with a life-risking gambit on November 16, 1863. The USS Lehigh (above) was an ironclad monitor with two powerful cannon that joined a Union fleet attacking Fort Sumter on Charleston Harbor in South Carolina. The Lehigh ran aground near an island in the harbor and took a barrage of fire from Confederate guns. Another Union ironclad, the USS Nahant, arrived to pull the Lehigh free, but volunteers were needed to board a small boat and pass a line between the two vessels. Young and two others accepted the challenge and — with shells exploding around them — hooked the two ironclads together, after which the Nahant dragged the Lehigh to deeper waters. Young, Frank S. Gile, and William Williams all received the Congressional Medal of Honor, America’s highest military decoration, for their actions.

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