b. 1839 Scotland. d. ?
DATE OF MOH ACTION: 24-25/12/1865 Fort Fisher, North Carolina.
Emigrating from his native Scotland, Dempster enlisted in the US Navy for a three-year term in August 1864 and was assigned to the Union ironclad USS New Ironsides. His enlistment is credited to the state of Pennsylvania.
On January 15, 1865, the North Carolina Confederate stronghold of Fort Fisher was taken by a combined Union storming party of sailors, marines, and soldiers under the command of Admiral David Dixon Porter and General Alfred Terry.
The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pleasure in presenting the Medal of Honor to Coxswain John Dempster, United States Navy, for extraordinary heroism in action while serving on board the U.S.S. New Ironsides during action in several attacks on Fort Fisher, North Carolina, 24 and 25 December 1864; and 13, 14, and 15 January 1865. The ship steamed in and took the lead in the ironclad division close inshore and immediately opened its starboard battery in a barrage of well-directed fire to cause several fires and explosions and dismount several guns during the first two days of fighting. Taken under fire as she steamed into position on 13 January, the New Ironsides fought all day and took on ammunition at night despite severe weather conditions. When the enemy came out of his bombproofs to defend the fort against the storming party, the ship's battery disabled nearly every gun on the fort facing the shore before the cease-fire orders were given by the flagship.
BURIAL LOCATION: UNKNOWN.
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