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Louis Palma di Cesnola
Birth: Jun. 29, 1832
Turin
Provincia di Torino
Piemonte, Italy
Death: Nov. 26, 1904
New York
New York County (Manhattan)
New York, USA

American Civil War Medal of Honor Recipient. Born Luigi Palma di Cesnola, he was the son of a count and military officer at Rivarolo Canavese, Piedmont, in the Kingdom of Sardinia. At the age of 15, he joined the Sardinian army and served in the First Italian War of Independence. During the Battle of Novara on March 23, 1849, he was decorated for bravery and promoted to the rank of 2nd lieutenant. He then attended the Royal Military Academy at Cherasco in Piedmont, Italy and graduated in 1851. Three years later he was dismissed for unknown reasons, and subsequently served with the British Army in the Crimean War as the aide-de-camp to General Enrico Fardella. In 1858 he emigrated to the US and taught Italian and French in New York City, New York. In February 1861, prior to the outbreak of the American Civil War, he established a private military school for officers. The following year he raised a company of Italians for military service to the North in the Civil War and was appointed a major of the 11th New York Cavalry regiment and subsequently a lieutenant colonel. He then received a commission as a colonel of the 4th New York Cavalry. On June 17, 1863, at the Battle of Aldie in Loudoun County, Virginia he was wounded and taken prisoner, and for his efforts he was awarded the Medal of Honor. In early 1864 he was released from the Libby Prison in Richmond, Virginia in exchange for a personal friend of Confederate President Jefferson Davis and he continued to serve as a commander of a cavalry brigade. After the war, he was appointed US Consul at Larnaca in Cyprus from 1865 until 1877). During his stay on Cyprus, he carried out excavations (especially around the archaeological site of Kourion), which resulted in the discovery of a large number of antiquities. The collection was purchased by the newly expanded Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York in 1872, and he became its first director in 1879 and served until his death. He wrote "Cyprus, Its Ancient Cities, Tombs and Temples" (1877) and "A Descriptive Atlas of the Cesnola Collection of Cypriote Antiquities" (3 volumes, 1884 to 1886). He received honorary Doctor of Laws Degrees from Columbia and Princeton universities and was also the recipient of a gold medal and various knightly honors from King Victor Emmanuel of Italy, and was a member of several learned societies in Europe and America. He died after a short illness at the age of 72. At the time of his death, he was to receive the Grand Cross of Saint Maurice and Lazarra from the from King Umberto II of Italy. His Medal of Honor citation reads: "At the start of the battle at Aldie, Cesnola was placed under arrest by his superior officer for protesting the promotion of a less experienced officer to brigadier general. He was stripped of his saber and sidearm. Without Cesnola the Fourth New York Cavalry balked repeatedly when asked to charge a hillside gun battery. The commanding general knew Cesnola was needed to rally the unit. He said, "Colonel, you are a brave man. You are released from arrest. Here is my own sword. Take it and bring it back to me covered in the enemy's blood." When he entered the battle "the regiment arrived on the scene of conflict, and by a gallant charge, turned apparent defeat into a glorious victory for our arms, completely routing the enemy and cutting off nearly 100 men, all of whom were captured." At the close of the battle Cesnola was found in a field lying under his own horse, wounded on the head by a saber and on the arm by a minie ball." (bio by: William Bjornstad) 
 
Family links: 
 Spouse:
  Mary Isabel Jennings Reid Di Cesnola (1830 - 1902)*
 
 Children:
  Gabrielle Di Cesnola Delcambre (1863 - 1933)*
  Louise Di Cesnola Baker (1866 - 1944)*
 
*Calculated relationship
 
Burial:
Kensico Cemetery
Valhalla
Westchester County
New York, USA
 
Maintained by: Find A Grave
Record added: Nov 16, 1998
Find A Grave Memorial# 4011
Louis Palma di Cesnola
Added by: Gregory Spesh
 
Louis Palma di Cesnola
Added by: Don Morfe
 
Louis Palma di Cesnola
Added by: William Sweeney
 
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Thank you for your military service to the Union cause during the Civil War and for your courage and valor in battle. May you rest in peace.
- William Bjornstad
 Added: Jul. 1, 2014

- Darlene T.
 Added: Jun. 29, 2014

- R I P
 Added: Jun. 29, 2014
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