Once again, Walter French is in the middle of history. This time a widely distributed newspaper story tells of Walter’s purchase of a derringer, with a inscription of S.A. Douglas on the handle. Of course, Walter knows who to consult to see if it was once owned by Stephen A. Douglas, the Democratic Party nominee for president in the 1860 election, losing to Republican Abraham Lincoln. See, Walter happens to know a ‘kinsman’ of Douglas by the name of James Madison Cutts, Jr., the only American to ever be awarded the Medal of Honor three times!
(Biography – Arlington National Cemetery) “Colorful” hardly describes the career of this Union officer. From a prominent family and a graduate of Brown University and Harvard Law School, Cutts joined the army in 1861 and was awarded a triple Medal of Honor, the only such medal ever issued, for bravery at the Wilderness, Spotsylvania, and Petersburg. However, the medal was not given until 1891, the delay due in part to a string of career-busting events. These include being caught peering over the transom at a married woman while she undressed, refusing a challenge to a duel, three courts-martial, involvement with a pyromaniac army doctor, ripping the chevrons off one soldier’s uniform and hitting another so hard that Cutts broke his own hand, and seizing property owned by an influential carpetbagger.