But many Canadians found themselves caught up with these battles... literally. And one of these was a fellow from Canada West (Ontario) by the name of Mosher Harding. He was born in 1847 and would take up the trade of a blacksmith early in life. By late 1865 he was plying his trade at Clinton Ohio, about 125 miles directly south of London Ontario. Three years later, possibly in the same trade, he would have located 2 states and some 600 miles further west, at St Louis Missiori. It would be here that Mosher would enlist with the United States 8th Cavalry for a five year term. (A unit where many Canadians would serve over the years and five would earn a Medal Honor)
It would be here that Mosher Harding would receive his orders to march off, actually ride off into miltary history.
The stage was set when, on 5 October 1869 the president of a mine very close to the Fort had boarded his mail coach and was heading of to his home at Tucson. This man was a former military Colonel and had with him four escorts. Along the route they pulled up at an abandoned stage coach station for a break, they were attacked by very well conceiled natives lying in wait for the white man. All except one were killed. That fellow managed to escape death and make it back to the fort to get help. But as he was making his way back to the fort, the natives had pushed on and also attacked several ranchers moving their head of cattle from Texas to California. The natives killed most of the ranchers, and one of these also escaped and headed to the fort for help. Before getting to the fort he met up with the dispatched troop of about 25 Cavalrymen... including Harding. Soon they caught the trail of the natives and stolen cattle... now heading towards Mexico.
The natives, seeing the cavalry on their trail decided to head into the Apache stonghold area between Red Rock and and Turtle Mountain, above Rucker Canyon which lay along side the Chiricahua Mountains. A fierce battle then took place between the Cavalry and the Apaches and would later become known as the Battle of the Rocky Mesna. The Mesna..or hill.. was obviously the highground, and held by the Apache's. The first two soldiers attempting to climb were instantly killed. Others followed and were quickly picked off. Cavalry snipers were employed and even lobbing of grenades had little effect throughout the rainy, and mud drenched battle into the night. The natives made their escape during the dark hours.
While difficult to learn who did what, at one point, against all advise, it is known that Harding went out under the hail of bullets to rescue a wounded comrade and bring him to safety.
Thirty one Medals of Honor would ultimaltly be awarded for this battle for the above troop and another that also joined in. It would be one of the largest number in any battle in the medal's history. In this same history there would only be 5 MOH's awarded to blacksmith's and Harding was one of these.
When Harding's five year stint was up he returned to the Clinton area, got married and settled down. Several years later his wife died, he remarried, raised two childern and moved the family to the Denison area, where he was probably still working in his blacksmith trade.
Mosher Harding was awarded his Medal of Honor on 14 February 1870, 153 years ago today.
He is pictured on right wearing his medal. The actual framed medal is not the 1860 or 70's version, but a replacement when the model of the medal changed in the later years. Below these is his actual citation issued by the President of the United States. Unfortunatley the poor quality picture I have been able to obtain does not show the signature and another shot does not appear to be forthcoming.
Like so many other medals, the citation in all the references I can find is most untelling. It simply says that he was awarded a medal for... "Gallantry in Action."
Mosher Harding died in May of 1931 and is buried at Denison Idaho.