CAPTAIN JOSEPH BANKS LYLE
5TH SOUTH CAROLINA INFANTRY, C.S.A.
BATTLE OF WILLIAMSBURG ROAD, VIRGINIA
27 OCTOBER 1864
"Seeing that the enemy attack upon the works had failed, Captain Lyle watched the foe retreat to the safety of a ravine in the middle of the battlefield. Suspecting these men to be broken in morale and dispirited, Captain Lyle, ignoring two slight wounds received earlier in the day, requested permission to advance the skirmish line and capture them, knowing they would escape under cover of approaching night. When his request was refused, Captain Lyle advanced toward the enemy position alone. Although joined by two compatriots moments later, Captain Lyle realized the danger his two companions risked in accompanying him. Instructing them to halt on a rise overlooking the enemy, he continued forward. Upon hearing the shout of an enemy officer exhorting his men to continue the fight, Captain Lyle ordered his two companions to shoot down the officer unless he stopped his tirade. Advancing alone, Captain Lyle now came under friendly fire from Confederates far up the works who mistook him for a deserter. When word spread that the distant figure was a Confederate officer, all firing ceased and men up and down the line watched in disbelief as Captain Lyle audaciously ordered the entire force before him to surrender. After half the enemy had filed from the protection of the ravine, another officer challenged him by berating his fellow soldiers for surrendering to a single man whom they could easily overpower and kill. Grabbing a discarded Spencer carbine, Captain Lyle advanced upon the man and threatened to kill him if he did not obey his demand to surrender, dramatically ending any further resistance. In one of the most incredible feats of personal valor witnessed during the War Between the States, Captain Lyle single-handedly captured three stands of colors, several swords and small arms, and between 500 and 600 prisoners. For extraordinary heroism at great personal peril, Captain Joseph Banks Lyle is hereby awarded the Confederate Medal of Honor."