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MEDAL OF HONOR: DOUBLE WINNERS DURING THE INDIAN WARS

[The Tombstone Epitaph, February, 1997]

As noted in an earlier article, a number of Civil War Medal of Honor winners later served with some distinction in a number of actions against the tribes of the northern and southern plains.. A much smaller group, composed in fact of just three men, also merit recognition and remembrance in connection with the continuing series of conflicts which collectively compose what has been called the "Indian Wars". Henry Hogan, Patrick Leonard, William Wilson-each richly deserves to be called "hero" because all three of them won the Medal of Honor twice! Two of the three, Hogan and Leonard, were born in Ireland; Wilson in Philadelphia Pennsylvania. The latter enlisted in the Army in his home city; the location of the entry into service for the two Irish emigrants is not known.

There is a certain geographic symmetry to the location of the actions which generated these awards in the name of Congress as well as in the rank held by the honorees. Hogan's awards were won in Montana, Leonard's in Nebraska and Wilson's in Texas. All three men held the rank of Sergeant, although a "footnote" must be added to Leonard's name because, for some unspecified reason, he had dropped to the rank of Corporal by the time he qualified for the second of his medals.

HENRY HOGAN

First Sergeant Henry Hogan of Company G, 5th U.S. Infantry, served in the campaign against the Nez Perce who were desperately attempting to reach refuge in Canada. Hogan was cited for "Gallantry in actions" between October, 1876 and January 8, 1877 at Cedar Creek and other locations. He earned his second medal at Bear Paw Mountain on September 30, 1877 when he "Carried Lt. Romeyn, who was severely wounded, from the field of battle under heavy fire."

PATRICK LEONARD

Serving with the 2nd Cavalry on May 15, 1870 at the Little Blue in Nebraska, Sergeant Patrick Leonard of Company C displayed "Gallantry in action" for which he won his first Medal of Honor. Six years later, Corporal Patrick Leonard, now with Company A of the 23rd United States Infantry, for the second time earned the nation's highest military honor; he was cited for "Gallantry in a charge on hostile Sioux" near Fort Hartsuff, Nebraska on April 28, 1876.

WILLIAM WILSON

On March 28, 1872 in the Colorado Valley in Texas, elements of the 4th U.S. Cavalry pursued cattle thieves from New Mexico. In connection with that action, Sergeant William Wilson, Company I, participated at a level sufficient to merit a Medal of Honor. Almost exactly six months later, on September 29, 1872, Sergeant Wilson's bravery earned him a second award. He was cited for "Distinguished conduct in action with Indians" at Red River, Texas.

One additional historical fact may be said to be reflected in the records of these three soldiers. Bravery in action, no matter how meritorious it may appear to be at the time, is most certainly no guarantee that those who display it will also merit remembrance in history.

Copyright Robert Munkres 1981-2009 All Rights Reserved