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William Edward Birkhimer


U.S. Army
Medal Of Honor, Philippine
Insurrection

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Captain William Birkhimer was an Artillery officer leading a hand-picked group of soldiers known as "Young's Scouts," tasked with being at the forefront of movement in rebel-controlled areas. On May 13, 1899, eleven of these scouts under Captain Birkhimer encountered 300 enemy near San Miguel. Without waiting for reinforcements, the scouts broke from the bushes which concealed them, and charged across 150 yards of open ground into the center of the enemy line which wavered, and then broke, the rebels fleeing their positions. The scouts then routed the Filipinos at the bridge spanning the river, but the civilian Scout commander William Young was mortally wounded. Corporal Frank Anders rallied the scouts and led them into the town where they fought at close quarters for four hours, taking and holding a church bell tower until additional reinforcements arrived. Six of Young's Scouts earned the Medal of Honor for this action, and three days later seven additional Scouts earned the Medal of Honor at a bridge over the river at nearby San Isidro. In all, Captain Birkhimer and twelve of his Scouts earned Medals of Honor in the three-day period.

William Birkhimer graduated from the US Military Academy at West Point, Class of 1870. After receiving his Medal of Honor in 1902, Major Birkhimer suggested to the military secretary in Washington that "every possible attention should be paid to formality and solemnity of circumstance" in the award of the Medal of Honor. It was this suggestion that led to President Roosevelt's Executive Order on 20 September 1905 that award of the Medal "will always be made with formal and impressive ceremonial" and that when practicable, the award would be presented in our Capitol City by the US President.

 

 

 

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