Today, the Congress Commemorative Gold Five-Dollar Coin remembers July 26, 1779 when Congress approved gold and silver medals for prominent commanders during the capture of Stony Point, New York.
From Daughters of the American Revolution Magazine, Volume 55, an excerpt of their article “War Medals of the American Revolution” describes the awards:
In recognition of the capture of Stony Point, July 15, 1779, a gold medal was awarded by Congress to Brigadier General Anthony Wayne and Silver medals to Colonel Louis de Fleury and to Colonel John Stewart.
Stony Point and Verplanck’s Point, nearly opposite each other on the Hudson River about forty miles above New York City, had both been strongly fortified by the British.
Washington resolved to attack Stony Point to lessen the public criticism of his defensive policy. The work of the attack was entrusted to Anthony Wayne, and at the same time tentative plans were made for an attack upon Verplanck’s point soon afterwards.
The medal awarded to him in recognition of his services in this connection was presented in accordance with the following resolution of Congress, passed July 26, 1779:
“That a medal emblematical of this action be struck; That one of gold be presented to Brigadier General Wayne, and a silver one to Lieutenant Colonel Fleury and Major Stewart, respectively.”
The obverse of the medal presented to General Wayne bore an Indian queen representing America holding a mural crown in her left hand and presenting with her right a laurel wreath to General Wayne, who receives it in full uniform, standing in a respectful attitude with his hat in his left hand. At the feet of the Indian are a shield and an alligator.
The inscription “Antonio Wayne duci exercitus” appear above and “Consitia Americana” below, or “The American Congress to Anthony Wayne, Commander of the Army.”
The reverse design showed a view of the attack, and bears the inscription, “Stoney-Point Expugnatum XV Jul., MDCCXXIX,” or “Stony Point taken by storm July 15, 1779.”
Both the medal presented to Colonel Fleury and the one presented to Major Stewart, who figured prominently in the attack under Wayne’s leadership, differed greatly in design from that just described.
The medal presented to Colonel Fleury bore on the obverse a Roman soldier standing amid the ruins of a fort with a drawn sword in his right hand and trailing on the ground a flag, the staff of which he holds in his left hand.
Above appeared the inscription “Virtutis et Audaciae nonum, et proemium,” or “The reward and memorial of virtue and bravery,” and below “L. de Fleury equiti Gallo primo super muros resp. Americ. d. d.” or “To L. de Fleury, a French knight, the first to mount the walls, the American Republic presented this gift.”
The reverse bore a view of Stony Point and the Hudson River with six ships. Above appears the inscription “Aygeres paludes hostess victi,” or “Fortifications, marshes, and the enemy have been conquered.”
Below is the inscription, “Stony Pt. expugn XV Jul., MDCCLXXIX,” or “Stony Point stormed July 15, 1779.”
The medal presented to Colonel Fleury is of special interest as the only one awarded to a foreigner during the war.
The recipient of this medal, a native of France, offered his services to the American Government during the early period of the Revolution, and was appointed Captain Engineer May 22, 1777.
On September 13th of the same year he was presented with a horse by Act of Congress in recognition of his gallantry during the battle of the Brandywine, when he had his own mount shot under him.
He was wounded in action at Fort Mifflin on the Delaware, November 15, 1777, and appointed Lieutenant Colonel of Engineers shortly afterwards.
In the attack on Stony Point he commanded the van of the attacking column on the right wing and was among the first to enter the British works, where he gained the distinction of striking the enemy’s flag with his own hand.
Colonel Fleury was granted leave from the American Army in September, 1779, and returned to France after rendering essential benefit to the cause of independence and earning for himself a notable military reputation.
The medal presented to Major Stewart, who commanded the left van of the assault, bore on the obverse an Indian maiden representing America conferring a palm branch upon Major Stewart in uniform, to the right; her left hand rests upon and supports the United States shield, and at her feet are an alligator and a rope.
Above appears the inscription “Joanni Stewart cohortis proefeco,” or ” To John Stewart, Commander of the Infantry,” and below “Comitia Americana,” or the “American Congress.”
The design on the reverse shows a view of the assault with the American troops charging. Major Stewart at their head.
The design is surrounded by the inscription “Stony Point oppugnatium XV Jul., MDCCLXXIX.”
The capture of Stony Point was the first event of the war to be recognized by Congress to the extent of conferring medals upon more than one of the commanders who participated in a particular event.
The Congress Commemorative Gold Five-Dollar Coin shows with images of the medals presented to General Wayne and Colonel Fleury.