The President of the United States
in the name of
takes pleasure in presenting the
Medal of Honor
Rank and Organization: Boatswain's Mate, U.S. Navy. Born: 1827, New York. Accredited to: New York. G.O. No.: 11, 3 April 1863.
On board the U.S.S. Commodore Perry in the attack upon Franklin, Va., 3 October 1862. With enemy fire raking the deck of his ship and blockades thwarting her progress, Breen remained at his post and performed his duties with skill and courage as the Commodore Perry fought a gallant battle to silence many rebel batteries as she steamed down the Blackwater River.
John Breen was born in Ireland in 1827, the son of William and Margaret Breen. In 1852 he found his way to America and enlisted in the U.S. Navy in May of that year under the name of Charles Mercer %u2013 "a prank of a young man." After serving three years he was discharged and married Ellen Grant at St. Joseph's Church in New York City later that year where they lived and John continued to earn a living as a sailor. The couple had five children. None survived until adulthood.
Breen enlisted in the U.S. Navy again when the Civil War commenced in 1861. He was assigned to several Navy vessels including the U.S.S. Brandywine, U.S.S. Seymour and U.S.S. Commodore Perry. It was aboard the Commodore Perry, The U.S.S. Commodore Perry, named for brothers Commodores Oliver Hazard Perry and Matthew Calbraith Perry,
a side wheel steamer, where Boatswain's Mate Breen earned his Medal of Honor on October 3, 1862. He battled Confederate troops who were on the shore bluffs of the narrow Blackwater River shooting at the Union vessels. Under constant fire from 5:45am to 2:30pm, several ships of the U.S. Navy, including the Commodore Perry, repelled boarding attacks and maneuvered through felled trees meant to block their progress. Lt. Commander C.W. Flusser recommended John Breen for the Medal of Honor for his gallant conduct in the battle. He was honorably discharged in July, 1864.
DIED: Dec. 13, 1875
BURIED: Calvary Cemetery and Mausoleum
Plot: Block 5, Grave 1930