A quick read of that article will bring readers up to date if you missed yesterday's blog.
After the defeat at White Bird Ohio the First US Cavalry returned back to their barracks at Fort Walla Walla Washington state. It was from there that ,McCarthy's Troop Commander, Captain JG Trimble, wrote to his regimental headquarters and commended Sergeant Michael McCarthy for repeated acts of bravery and distinguished conduct in the battle 7 months earlier with the Nez Perce Natives. at White Bird Canyon.
Trimble referred to McCarthy as a sergeant in the letter, and requested that he be awarded a Certificate of Merit for his actions that day. Trimble also requested that... "any consideration or promotion bestowed upon the Sergeant, would be but the deserts of a faithful soldier of nearly ten years standing (it was more) , and an intelligent, energetic, and moral man.
At that time the Certificate was only authorized as an incentive to private soldiers, not Non Commissioned Officers such as Sergeant McCarthy. The officer was later told that due to the rules, the award could not be made. But that aside, it would appear that soon McCarthy was promoted to First Sergeant, for his faithful service, no doubt including the actions of many months earlier.
McCarthy's pension files at the federal archives include a curious document that is dated in 1880. It does not identify who wrote it, or who the officer was that it spoke about. But nevertheless it appears to be a note from higher headquarters giving a tongue lashing to a junior officer that was continuing to push for a certificate for McCarthy. The note states again that the certificate cannot go to any soldier other than those with only the rank of private. It adds that the note... is not in relation to the soldier's case but simply call to the attention to the fact that he is finding fault with the department for a matter that it appears that he knows nothing about." Ouch!
He was successful, but when public donations were sought he ended up contributing almost 1/3rd of the costs to have the 15' high Vermont Marble monument made and installed at Walla Walla and as seen here in this picture. There are quite a few Cavalry graves and also of some of the natives on site as well, and two are shown here.
In June of 1878 McCarthy was promoted to Quarter Master Sergeant and a year later he took his release from the US First Cavalry to take on a new challenge. He was offered a position with the Washington Territorial Militia. By July of 1881 he was appointed as a First Lieutenant with the Walla Walla Guards. Seven years later he would be a Captain in this unit which had by then been transformed into what was then called the Washington National Guard.
By 1897 Michael McCarthy of Newfoundland had risen in ranks from a private and was then a Colonel and Quarter Master General with the National Guard. In that year he also would be recommended for the Medal of Honor.
The same officer that recommended him so many years earlier for the Certificate of Merit, made the recommendation for the MOH. And this time it was supported by several other officers including the former Civil War General O.O. Howard. By November the War department was advised that the President approved the medal and had sent it by mail to McCarthy in Walla Walla. He would soon receive it and would write back to express his appreciation and noted that..." I shall ever cherish this medal as my most valued possession."
A few months later he wrote again to say that when the medal arrived there was no bow knot enclosed, and asked that it be forwarded. This device is literally a small bow, using the same ribbon material used to suspend the actual Medal of Honor, and is worn by the recipient at less formal occasions where the wearing of the medal itself is inappropriate. He would soon get this. And in 1907 he would be given a 2nd MOH, the latest version after the design of the medal had changed. He of course could not consider that as being a 2nd award, just a replacement for the earlier one. And only one could be worn at any time. Some recipients chose to continue to wear the older one as it was more of a keepsake to them than a newer version.
I visited the building a few years back and the current owners were quite kind and gave me a little tour. They did not know which bedroom was Michael's but since I was in all, I was in his. Each was very big with large windows as you can see from this site view. The entrance porch is at the bottom left.
Michael McCarthy also served on the personal staff's of 4 different governors and at retirement still held his rank as a Colonel and Chief of Engineers. His services to the Militia, state Guard and Governors' staffs would total over two more decades of service to the United States.
Michael had two strokes in later life and one left him speechless with paralysis of the throat. In his last years his sister became his care giver. Michael passed away in 1914 and is buried at Walla Walla. Helen stayed on another two years till she also passed away.
I have visited this site a few times and have stopped to reflect at the monument pictured here. It is in memorial of all of the state's recipients of the Medal of Honor. And I was quite please to see that it contained the names of several of the Canadians who had a connections to that state and went on to earn their own Medal s of Honor.
There are 6 army recipients, including Michael McCarthy on this panel and one fellow from the air force. There is room for more recipients to be added.
The last entry is for James Okubo. It was awarded in 2000 at a ceremony at the Whitehouse in which 21 recipients were awarded the MOH. Trouble is that all but 7 were by then dead. There were Japanese Americans and prejudice of the day prevented their receiving proper awards for their bravery.
In 2000 the US undertook a study of Japanese recipients of the Silver Star and as a result of the review these 21 clearly showed the status in which these service men were taken in earlier days. All 21 were up graded several levels to that of the Medal of Honor.
An injustice corrected that could have been avoided.