The Artifact Gallery was made possible by a generous gift from the William T. Kemper Foundation – Commerce Bank, Trustee.
Born in Prussia in 1835, Joseph Pesch, a private in Company A of the 1st Missouri Light Artillery, was awarded the medal of honor for "most distinguished gallantry in action" at Grand Gulf, Mississippi, April 28-29, 1863. Pesch and two comrades, Private Fitz W. Guerin and Sergeant Henry Hammel, voluntarily took position on the disabled Federal steamer Cheeseman, and under heavy enemy fire manned the boat's guns until they were rescued by another Federal gunboat. Pesch was discharged in April 1864, after his term of three years' service expired. A handwritten notation at the bottom of his discharge described him as "a good soldier" who was always at his post. Pesch, Guerin, and Hammel all received medals of honor, though they were not awarded them until March 10, 1896. All of the men lived in St. Louis, and were members of the Frank P. Blair Post of the Grand Army of the Republic.