Anderson University will dedicate a statue to Corporal Freddie Stowers, South Carolina’s first African-American Medal of Honor recipient on November 11 at 11 am on the grounds of the Thrift Library.
A native of nearby Sandy Springs, South Carolina, Corporal Stowers was posthumously awarded the nation’s highest military honor in 1991 by President George H.W. Bush.
He served in World War I in the Ardennes region of France. His heroism has been compared by some to that of the more famous Sergeant Alvin York and is best described in the account that accompanied his Medal of Honor.United States Army Corporal Freddie Stowers statue.
The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pride in presenting the Medal of Honor (posthumously) to Corporal Freddie Stowers, United States Army, for exceptional heroism on September 28, 1918, while serving as a squad leader in Company C, 371st Infantry Regiment, 93d Infantry Division. Corporal Stowers’ company was the lead company during the attack on Hill 188, Champagne Marne Sector, France, during World War I.
A few minutes after the attack began, the enemy ceased firing and began climbing up onto the parapets of the trenches, holding up their arms as if wishing to surrender. The enemy’s actions caused the American forces to cease-fire and to come out into the open.
As the company started forward and when within about 100 meters of the trench line, the enemy jumped back into their trenches and greeted Corporal Stowers’ company with interlocking bands of machine gun fire and mortar fire causing well over fifty percent casualties.
Faced with incredible enemy resistance, Corporal Stowers took charge, setting such a courageous example of personal bravery and leadership that he inspired his men to follow him in the attack. With extraordinary heroism and complete disregard of personal danger under devastating fire, he crawled forward leading his squad toward an enemy machine gun nest, which was causing heavy casualties to his company.
After fierce fighting, the machine gun position was destroyed and the enemy soldiers were killed. Displaying great courage and intrepidity, Corporal Stowers continued to press the attack against a determined enemy. While crawling forward and urging his men to continue the attack on a second trench line, he was gravely wounded by machine gun fire.
Although Corporal Stowers was mortally wounded, he pressed forward, urging on the members of his squad, until he died. Inspired by the heroism and display of bravery of Corporal Stowers, his company continued the attack against incredible odds, contributing to the capture of Hill 188 and causing heavy enemy casualties.
Corporal Stowers’ conspicuous gallantry, extraordinary heroism and supreme devotion to his men were well above and beyond the call of duty, follow the finest traditions of military service and reflect the utmost credit on him and the United States Army.
The Stowers statue is the second statue honoring an historic South Carolinian to be installed at the Anderson University campus this fall. Previously, a statue bearing the likeness of Bernard Baruch, a South Carolina philanthropist and advisor to six U.S. presidents was dedicated. Both statues are gifts from the family of the late John Rainey. Rainey was dedicated to the mission of honoring the memory of great South Carolinians as well as helping to beautify the Anderson University campus with great works of art.