Who was John J. Toffey?


John James Toffey (01 June 1844 to 13 March 1911) was a United States Union Army officer during the American Civil War who received the Medal of Honour.

John J. Toffey, US Army, American Civil War, Medal of Honour (1)
John J. Toffey, Medal of Honour recipient.

Civil War

Serving first as a Private in Company C, 21st New Jersey Volunteer Infantry (a nine-month service regiment) from 28 August 1862 to 19 June 1863, he was commissioned as a First Lieutenant in Company F, 33rd New Jersey Volunteer Infantry on 23 August 1863, and was mustered into the unit on 29 August 1863. He participated in the 23 November 1863 Battle of Missionary Ridge, at Chattanooga, Tennessee, and it was there that he performed the act of bravery that garnered him the Medal of Honour.

His wounds forced his discharge from the 33rd New Jersey on 02 June 1864, and he was appointed into the Veteran Reserve Corps. He served in the VRC as a lieutenant until June 1866. While still in service, he was an eyewitness to Lincoln’s assassination at Ford’s Theatre, participated in the search for the conspirators, testified at their trial, and witnessed their subsequent execution.

He received his medal on 10 September 1897.

Post-War Career

After the war he went on to have a life of extensive public service in Hudson County, New Jersey. He served two terms as Hudson County sheriff, served as state treasurer of New Jersey from 1875 to 1891, as an alderman of Jersey City, New Jersey, and was elected as a member of the New Jersey State Legislature.

He died in Pawling, New York, the town of his birth, and was buried in the Pawling Cemetery, near the grave of Civil War Naval hero Rear Admiral John Lorimer Worden, his uncle by marriage of Worden to his father’s sister Olive. His grave was marked with a Medal of Honour headstone in 2004, 93 years after his death.

Medal of Honour Citation

Rank and organization: First Lieutenant, Company G, 33d New Jersey Infantry. Place and date. At Chattanooga, Tenn., November 23, 1863. Entered service at: Hudson, N.J. Birth: Duchess, N.Y. Date of issue: September 10, 1897.


Although excused from duty on account of sickness, went to the front in command of a storming party and with conspicuous gallantry participated in the assault of Missionary Ridge; was here wounded and permanently disabled.

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