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Indian Wars Veteran - 3rd Cavalry - 1881-1889


Primoris Scio
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Primoris Scio

A friend of mine sent me a newspaper clipping for his 3rd great-grandfather, Thomas J. McGarry, a veteran of the Indian Wars - he served with the 3rd Cav from 1881-1889. 

 

This regiment fought in the Battle of Big Dry Wash on 17 July 1882, however, Arizona and its surrounding terrority are not listed among the areas that he served in.  In fact, little about the history of the 3rd Cav matches the newspaper report.  The article claims that he enaged in many skirmishes with the enemy, is there a record of him receiving the Indian Wars Campaign Medal?

 

Is there a regimental list for this unit, or other documentation for his service?

 

1044426976_IndianWar-NewspaperClipping.jpeg.f31c2a00f3024096993afd04734e7b48.jpeg

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Tom Trevor

He is not listed in the Indian War medal book. But may have later received a MNo  medal which those receiving were not listed. Also troops D and I third fought a Big Dry Wash when there I photographed the monument and later transcribed the names and he is not listed there. 

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Primoris Scio

Thank you Tom, do you know how to get ahold of the regiment list, and was it common to remain in a single unit for 8 years?

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Tom Trevor

I doubt there is any list of enlisted men available. Enlisted men usually stayed in one troop or company their entire enlistment or career. Service was for five years. He may have reenlisted and bought his discharge after three years. Or in later years enlistment was for three years.

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Primoris Scio

Great find Beast!

 

The newspaper is inaccurate, I do not think I have ever researched a soldier and not found an error, if I read this correctly he was in L Troop? 

 

Since he was a recognized veteran would he be entitled to the Indian War medal?

 

The resolution on the image is a little blurry, is there a link for it?

 

Below is an excerpt from wiki about the 2nd Cav in 1887, specifically C and E Troops, which occurred during the time he was with the regiment -

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2nd_Cavalry_Regiment_(United_States) 

 

"In the winter of 1886, the 2nd Cavalry Regiment was charged with preventing Indians from crossing the border from Canada and protecting settlers in Montana and Wyoming. In early March 1887, a large band of Sioux entered Montana from Canada without warning, and C Troop from Camp Stambaugh, Wyoming and E Troop from Fort Sanders, Wyoming were sent to pursue them. After a 150-mile chase, the combatants met at O'Fallon's Creek, Montana. In the fierce battle that followed, the cavalrymen killed many braves and captured 46 of their horses. CPT Eli L. Huggins and 2LT Lloyd M. Brett both earned the Medal of Honor during this battle for their intrepid leadership and courage. This action forced the Sioux to flee back to Canada. CPT Huggins became the 12th Colonel of the 2nd Cavalry, and today, the annual Regimental award for the most outstanding junior officer is named in honor of CPT Eli L. Huggins.

 

During the Indian Wars, the 2nd Cavalry Regiment earned 13 battle streamers to add to their flag, and 15 troopers received the Medal of Honor for their gallantry."

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Tom Trevor

To receive the Indian war medal not only did you serve between 1865-91. G.O. 12 January 21, 1907 you also had to have been active in one of the thirteen recognized campaigns. This lead to some hard feeling when some battles were left off the list. 

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Primoris Scio

The newspaper article states that he was engaged in skirmishes with the enemy, I know the paper was already wrong about his unit, and wikipedia is is not the most accurate source, but I did find this list of 18 separate eligible events for the medal:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indian_Campaign_Medal

 

"18.  Against hostile Indians in any other action in which United States troops were killed or wounded between 1865 and 1891".

 

How would a soldier prove that they were involved in an action that qaulified?

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A veteran could submit a copy of any service papers they still possessed, such a discharge etc. as well as write what information they had or remembered such as their regiment and company/troop, names of officers, dates of service or campaigns or stations, etc. This could be cross checked against regimental records or registers of enlistments and so on to verify the veterans service and time. These applications were being done in many cases 20 years or more since the service. Most of the traceable campaign badges seem to relate to 'approved' campaigns and actions. I recall there were - allegedy - anomalies to the official list that quaified the medal such as service in the Crow campaign of 1887, Apaches in Arizona after 1891, and the Leech Lake battle in Minnesota in 1898. Whether these were traceable or untraceable medals I don't know.

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