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Maurice Wagg, a U.S. sailor during the U.S. Civil War who received the Medal of Honor, lay in a pauper's grave in London for almost 90 years until a local historian helped to arrange for the installation of a special gravestone. A ceremony was held at the grave on Thursday, Sept. 10, 2015.
Maurice Wagg, a U.S. sailor during the U.S. Civil War who received the Medal of Honor, lay in a pauper's grave in London for almost 90 years until a local historian helped to arrange for the installation of a special gravestone. A ceremony was held at the grave on Thursday, Sept. 10, 2015. (Adam L. Mathis/Stars and Stripes)
Maurice Wagg, a U.S. sailor during the U.S. Civil War who received the Medal of Honor, lay in a pauper's grave in London for almost 90 years until a local historian helped to arrange for the installation of a special gravestone. A ceremony was held at the grave on Thursday, Sept. 10, 2015.
Maurice Wagg, a U.S. sailor during the U.S. Civil War who received the Medal of Honor, lay in a pauper's grave in London for almost 90 years until a local historian helped to arrange for the installation of a special gravestone. A ceremony was held at the grave on Thursday, Sept. 10, 2015. (Adam L. Mathis/Stars and Stripes)
Amateur historian Michael Hammmerson holds a copy of the New Testament used by a chaplain during the U.S. Civil War. The chaplain served a Medal of Honor recipient, Maurice Wagg, who was honored with a gravestone after lying in a pauper's grave in London for about 90 years. A ceremony was held on Thursday, Sept. 10, 2015, in London.
Amateur historian Michael Hammmerson holds a copy of the New Testament used by a chaplain during the U.S. Civil War. The chaplain served a Medal of Honor recipient, Maurice Wagg, who was honored with a gravestone after lying in a pauper's grave in London for about 90 years. A ceremony was held on Thursday, Sept. 10, 2015, in London. (Adam L. Mathis/Stars and Stripes)
Michael Hammerson, an amateur historian who identified the grave in London of a Medal of Honor recipient from the U.S. Civil War.
Michael Hammerson, an amateur historian who identified the grave in London of a Medal of Honor recipient from the U.S. Civil War. (Adam L. Mathis/Stars and Stripes)
U.S. and British citizens participate in a ceremony on Thursday, Sept. 10, 2015, to dedicate the gravestone of Maurice Wagg, a U.S. Civil War Medal of Honor recipient buried in London. Through the efforts of a local historian, Wagg received a Medal of Honor grave marker.
U.S. and British citizens participate in a ceremony on Thursday, Sept. 10, 2015, to dedicate the gravestone of Maurice Wagg, a U.S. Civil War Medal of Honor recipient buried in London. Through the efforts of a local historian, Wagg received a Medal of Honor grave marker. (Adam L. Mathis/Stars and Stripes)
U.S. Navy Capt. Mark B. Rudesill, naval attache for the U.S. Embassy in London, salutes the newly installed grave marker of Maurice Wagg, a U.S. sailor buried in London who received the Medal of Honor. A ceremony was held on Thursday, Sept. 10, 2015. The U.S. Veterans Administration recently supplied a gravestone for Wagg.
U.S. Navy Capt. Mark B. Rudesill, naval attache for the U.S. Embassy in London, salutes the newly installed grave marker of Maurice Wagg, a U.S. sailor buried in London who received the Medal of Honor. A ceremony was held on Thursday, Sept. 10, 2015. The U.S. Veterans Administration recently supplied a gravestone for Wagg. (Adam L. Mathis/Stars and Stripes)

LONDON — A U.S. Medal of Honor recipient whose body lay for nearly a century in an unmarked grave has been rescued from obscurity thanks to the efforts of a British amateur historian.

Maurice Wagg, one of thousands of Britons who served in the U.S. Civil War, was buried in a pauper’s grave at the East London Cemetery when he died in 1926. The sailor received the Medal of Honor for helping to rescue the crew of the USS Monitor, an iron-clad vessel that sank during a storm off the North Carolina coast in 1862.

Michael Hammerson identified Wagg’s grave in the course of a project he began several years ago to gather information about Civil War veterans buried in England, Wales and Scotland. The Civil War enthusiast was among nearly a dozen Americans and Britons who gathered Thursday to dedicate a new marker for Wagg’s grave. The marker was provided by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and arranged for by Hammerson and the Sons of Union Veterans.

“I’ll do my best to try and trace where any of them are and, if possible, to try and get some information about their careers, their lives before the war, their lives after the war and obviously where they are buried,” Hammerson said.

Mike Garrick, a great-great-great-nephew of Wagg, said he knew of his distant uncle but was ignorant of his military service.

“My family and I appreciate the time and effort that has gone into organizing and researching his story,” Garrick said after the dedication.

Hammerson thinks there are many more graves and stories out there to be discovered. He and other researchers have identified about 1,300 Civil War veterans, on both sides, who died in mainland Britain, he said.

Hammerson can use pension records from the U.S. National Archives to track where Civil War veterans lived, but finding their graves can be difficult because of lost records, graves that lack markers and the cost of conducting searches. Wagg’s pension records named of the cemetery in which he was buried and indicated the grave’s precise location.

“As with so many things, it’s a big ongoing project … I’ll certainly never finish it and I think its one of those projects that will probably never be finished in a way,” Hammerson said.

mathis.adam@stripes.com Twitter: @AMathisStripes

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