Originally a formal governmental thanks, the “Thanks of Congress” was a series of resolutions passed by the United States Congress for victories or impressive military actions. These “Thanks of Congress” began during the American Revolutionary War, and were often accompanied by a commemorative medal. “Thanks of Congress” during the Civil War were published in Statutes at Large. Fifteen Union Army officers and fifteen Union Navy officers were named in these act during the Civil War. The first “Thanks of Congress” to be awarded during the Civil War was for "the gallant and patriotic services of the late Brigadier General Nathaniel Lyon, and the officers and soldiers under his command at the Battle of Wilson’s Creek on 10 Aug. 1861."
The United States Congress awarded five “Thanks of Congress” on January 28th 1864. They were given to Nathaniel P Bank, Ambrose E Burnside, Joseph Hooker, Oliver Otis Howard, and George G Meade.