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Michael McCarthy


U.S. Army
Medal Of Honor, Indian Campaigns

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First Sergeant Michael McCarthy was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions from June 1876 to January 1877, but the text of his citation specifically details his heroic actions on June 17, 1877, in the disastrous defeat of the cavalry forces at White Bird Canyon, Idaho. In that battle the troopers were outnumbered eight-to-one, and First Sergeant McCarthy was assigned a critical defensive position and with six men was ordered to hold it at all cost. This they did until the main cavalry attack faltered and the retreat ordered. Fighting to rejoin his troop during the withdrawal, two of his men fell to the enemy but the remainder joined their troop to continue the fighting retreat. In the engagement two horses were shot out from under him, and eventually he was separated from his unit and left on the battlefield with the dead and wounded. He hid in nearby brush while the bodies of his comrades were stripped by the Indians, and then spent three days dodging Indian patrols as he returned on foot his command. Also cited in this action at White Bird Canyon was Lieutenant William Parnell.

Michael McCarthy left the Army, then joined the Washington National Guard, retiring as a colonel in the early 1900s after a career on the AG's staff.

Photo Courtesy of: Idaho Military Historical Society

 

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