As I was showing my family, it struck me that our neighbor's last name is Harper. I figured the chances were slim, but I wondered if there was any relation. I contacted my neighbor to see if he knew much of his family history. He gave me the name of his grandfather and great-grandfather. After a couple of days of genealogy research, I found definitive proof that my neighbor's great-great-great-great-great grandfather's grandson was the same Andrew J. Harper. I found a photograph online of his Civil War era head stone in a cemetery in Annapolis, MD. After a little more research, I determined that there was no reason for the 13th Regiment to be in the area of Annapolis. However, there was a camp there known as Camp Parole. It was a camp used to rehabilitate soldiers received after prisoner exchanges. The camp was a filthy place where many soldiers became diseased. Those that died from their disease are largely buried in the National Cemetery in Annapolis. So Andrew J. Harper was captured as a prisoner of war, most likely during one of the heated exchanges in Virginia. After several months, he was transferred to Camp Parole from a prison camp most likely in Charleston, SC. He died in the hospital of Camp Parole.
After I made the link to my neighbor, I contacted him with the information. He was excited to hear about the news and shared the story with his dad. I met with both of them a short while later and showed them the medal, as well as the additional information I had discovered. They asked me how much I wanted for the medal, and I told them I would sell it to them for what I had in it. The opportunity to reunite this medal with the family was all the profit I needed. Sometimes you just have to do the right thing when it comes to picking.
So today, on Father's Day, I met with my neighbor and his young son in my house. We presented the medal to him with little fanfare. I'm sure he will treasure this piece of history and pass it down to his son some day. Hopefully, the medal and the story will be part of their family again for many years to come.