Featured Duncan Nathaniel Ingraham – Rescue of Martin Koszta

Discussion in 'Coin Chat' started by Chris B, May 31, 2023.

  1. Chris B

    Chris B Supporter! Supporter

    Over the last several years more and more of my collecting budget is being used on historical medals from both the United States and around the world. Many of these purchases would be considered impulse buys with little or no research done prior to the transaction. I see it, tell myself, that is both neat and it is within my budget, so let’s get it. Keep in mind that there is no “Red Book” for medals. There isn’t even anything equivalent to the Krause world coin catalogs. I use my gut to guide me on many of these purchases. I have had a few hiccups along the way but haven’t ever really been burned.

    One recent purchase is the subject of this article. The “Rescue of Martin Koszta” medal is an impressive 105mm bronze medal. The imagery is very appealing to me. Medalists have a lot more freedom to create beautiful works of art than do the artists that create our circulating coinage.

    First, let’s talk about the medal and events that led up to its creation.

    Duncan Ingraham was born in Charleston, South Carolina, on December 6th, 1802. His father was a friend of John Paul Jones and was in the action with the British brig Serapis, and his uncle, Captain Joseph Ingraham, was lost at sea in the United States ship Pickering. Duncan Nathaniel entered the United States navy as a midshipman in June 1812, and became lieutenant, April 1818; commander, May 1838; and captain, September 1855. While commanding the sloop-of-war St. Louis, in the Mediterranean he interfered at Smyrna, in July 1853, with the Austrian consul's detention of Martin Koszta. Koszta had resided nearly two years in the United States and declared his intention of becoming an American citizen. He had come to Smyrna, in Greece, from New York on business intending soon to return, but on June 21st, 1853 he was seized by a party of armed Greeks that were employed by the Austrian consul-general and confined on board the Hussar. After learning the facts from the prisoner Captain Ingraham addressed a letter on this subject to John P. Brown, the charge d'affaires of the United States in Constantinople, who gave the official opinion that the surrender of Koszta should be demanded. On July 2nd, at 8 a.m., Captain Ingraham claimed of the Austrian commander the release of Koszta by 4 p. m. declaring that he would otherwise take him by force. At the same time the decks of the St Louis were cleared for action, and all was made ready for an attack on the Hussar, which was much her superior in size and armament. At 11 A. M. the Austrian consul-general proposed to deliver Koszta to the French consul and be held by him subject to the disposition of the United States and Austrian consuls. This was accepted by Captain Ingraham as giving sufficient assurance of the personal safety of the Hungarian. Koszta was soon released and returned to the United States. This affair gave rise to an elaborate discussion in Washington between Secretary William L. Marcy and M. Hulsemann. The conduct of Captain Ingraham was fully approved by the United States government and on August 4th, 1854, congress, by joint resolution, requested the president to present him with a medal. In March 1856 he was appointed chief of the bureau of ordnance and hydrography of the navy department. When the civil war began, in 1861, he was in command of the flagship Richmond in the Mediterranean. He resigned his commission and entered the Confederate naval service. He served as chief of ordnance, construction, and repair, and in which he rose to the rank of commodore. He served in every war since the Revolution and is said to be the only survivor of those that entered the navy in 1812.

    Duncan Nathaniel Ingraham


    "1854" (1855) Commander Duncan Ingraham / Rescue of Martin Koszta Medal. Original Large Size. By James Barton Longacre and Peter Cross(obverse). Draftsman Seth Eastman. Julian NA-26. Bronze. 105 mm. These were also struck in a much more commonly available 3” size.

    Duncan 1855 05.jpg

    Bronze struck medallion with obverse showing the American and Austrian ships at anchor in the harbor of Smyrna, Turkey; inscription in center exergue: "SMYRNA./AMERICAN AUSTRIAN/SLOOP OF WAR BRIG OF WAR/ST LOUIS, HUSSAR." Reverse bears inscription surrounded by wreath of laurel and oak branches with eagle and stars below: "PRESENTED/BY THE/PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES/TO/COMMANDER DUNCAN N. INGRAHAM/AS A TESTIMONIAL OF THE HIGH SENSE/ENTERTAINED BY CONGRESS/OF HIS GALLANT AND JUDICIOUS CONDUCT/ON THE 2d OF JULY 1853./JOINT RESOLUTION OF CONGRESS AUGUST 4th 1854."

    USS St Louis
    This seems like a relatively minor event to result in the production of a congressional gold medal. Captain Duncan stood his ground against a much more heavily armed opponent and got them to back down. I’m not trying to get political, but can you imagine something like this happening in modern times? The United States threatened military action to recover someone that wasn’t a US citizen.

    A little background information: Martin Koszta, a man of Hungarian birth, had taken part in the political movement of 1848-49 to separate Hungary from the Austrian Empire. He fled to Turkey, then emigrated to the United States. In July 1852, he made a declaration under oath of his intention to become a citizen of the United States and, at the same time, renounced all allegiance to any foreign power.

    The so called Koszta Affair in 1853 was the name applied to a diplomatic episode between the United States and the Austrian Empire involving the rights in foreign countries of new Americans who were not yet fully naturalized.

    It sounds like Koszta had earned some political power and probably had some high-ranking friends in D.C. Whether it was justified or not is not up to me irrelevant to this article.

    The names that signed the medal caught my attention as much as the subject matter. Longacre and Cross are familiar to me, but Eastman was a new name for me to see on a medal. The fact that Eastman was described as the “draftsman” I thought was odd as well.

    James B. Longacre was chief engraver for the U. S. Mint from 1844 until his death in 1869. Best known for creating the flying eagle and Indian head cents.

    Peter Filatreu Cross was an assistant engraver to James B. Longacre at the U.S. Mint in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

    Cross was born in New York City to William Cross and Hannah Woods Cross. Despite Mint records stating that he died in 1856, he appears in the 1860 U.S. Census in Philadelphia. He married Harriet Chapin and had one child; a daughter named Maria.

    He is best known for his work on the reverse of the 1849 1-dollar gold coin. The value of gold required the coin to be so small that too many people were losing them, so it had to be redesigned. He also designed medals of the period, including this medal.

    Cross died on October 13th, 1862, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and is buried at Lawnview Cemetery in Rockledge, Pennsylvania.

    Seth Eastman was an artist and West Point graduate who served in the US Army, first as a mapmaker and illustrator. He had two tours at Fort Snelling, Minnesota Territory. During the second tour he was commanding officer of the fort. In 1870 Congress commissioned Eastman to create a series of 17 paintings of important U.S. forts, to be hung in the meeting rooms of the House Committee on Military Affairs. He completed the paintings in 1875. Eight still hang in the Senate Wing.

    Seth Eastman

    The most significant commission of Eastman’s artistic career was a project sponsored by the United States government to illustrate the text to Historical and Statistical Information Respecting the History, Condition and Prospects of the Indian Tribes of the United States. The six-volume publication took Eastman five years to illustrate and affirmed his status as a historian of the American Indian. As John Francis McDermott wrote, “he became the most effective pictorial historian of the Indian in the nineteenth century.”

    Longacre and Cross engraved the dies based on Eastman’s design. That’s 3 significant names from our history. Unfortunately, I wasn’t familiar with Mr. Eastman prior to finding this medal. His work is readily available for viewing by doing a quick Google search.

    Any comments are welcome and appreciated.

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  3. -jeffB

    -jeffB Greshams LEO Supporter

    An interesting historical event, and a stellar writeup. Thanks for posting it!
    Nann, lardan and Chris B like this.
  4. Jim Dale

    Jim Dale Well-Known Member

    • WOW!!! That is a great article. As we get older, many of us atrophy in our reading and learning about the things that made our country great. My great-grandfather was killed in France during WWI, leaving his wife and 5 children to fend for their self. When WWII came around, many of us lost relatives, then Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, and many other skirmishes. Some have kept us true to our convictions, other protested as well as other ways to fight against the ideals that our forefathers fought so hard so preserve our way of life.
    Your article made me think of our responsibilities as citizens of the great nation.
    Thank you all for the words of wisdom that you give to us. Some are in jest and others are direct hits to our sense of respect and honor. I served in the United States Army, 1968 -1970, my brother chose the Navy during those turbulent times. My father served in the Navy during WWII, then the Army during Korea and finally, in Vietnam.
    All of us have friends, relatives, and neighbors that had relatives lost during times of war and even the wars that had not been declared.
    Every evening before my family went to bed, we knelt against the sofa to have prayers, to remember those that are serving our country, and especially their families back home. Our men and women are still fighting a battle that may never end in peace.
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  5. lardan

    lardan Supporter! Supporter

    Thank you for a very interesting article and photos. A tip of my hat to you today for this exposure to something I would have probably never known had you not done this
    Chris B likes this.
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