Army Civil War Campaign Medal, “M.No.1789” (Maj John S. Koster)
Army Civil War Campaign Medal, numbered “M.No.1789″, wrap brooch. With a Grand Army of the Republic badge with Koster’s image on the celluloid top button and “Koster” imprinted on the backing ribbon, apparently from his campaign to be the New York department commander.
Attributed to Sergeant John S. Koster, Company H, 21st Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry for Civil War service. With an extensive research file on Koster, including a photograph of his elaborate grave. The research does not connect this medal specifically to Koster, but the attribution comes the sale of a number of artifacts relating to Koster in 2001 and 2017 (including a corps badge and his prosthetic arm).
Sergeant (later Major) Koster was seriously wounded at the battle of Cold Harbor, Virginia (2 June 1864), resulting in the amputation of his right arm at the shoulder. Koster is reportedly the inspiration of “The Empty Sleeve”, a popular poem in post-war years and subject of hundreds of illustrations and post cards. Koster was active in the Grand Army of the Republic, rising to be the commander of the Department of New York. He was also active in lobbying for many years for the award of the Medal of Honor, although each appeal was denied. Koster died in August 1921.