James Avery (1825–1898) was an American Civil War Union Navy Seaman who received the Medal of Honor while serving aboard the USS Metacomet (1863)
James Avery was born in Scotland in 1825.
On August 5 the USS Metacomet along with 17 other ships entered Mobile Bay and during the battle that ensued the Union monitor Tecumseh was sunk by a Confederate torpedo. James Avery aided in rescuing 10 members of the Tecumseh crew while enduring heavy enemy fire.
Many years after the war Avery was serving as a berth-deck cook and it was discovered by the captain that he had won a medal of honor. When asked about the medal he said:
That can tell you more about it than I can. I did like the rest of the men that day, and I never expected anything more than my pay and rations. We tried to do our duty, and when we saw the men in the other ship being shot down and some drowning, we could only try to help them. God knows it was hard to see them being murdered without much chance for escape
This incident was reported in the New York Times on January 16, 1898.
Avery later served in one of the bureaus of the Navy Department.