These brothers were most unique as a set of brothers earning the Medal of Honor. There are at least seven known sets that earned the medal. Two are not often found in lists because it seems to hard to admit their medals were illegally taken from them, as noted in past blogs. But the Gaujot heroes are unique for several reasons. First perhaps is that while in all of the other sets both brothers earned their medals in the same war. Second, the Gaujot medals and only one other set of brothers earned their medals in wars other than the Civil War. In the Gaujots' case, medals were awarded for heroism recognized in actions during the Philippine Insurrection and the Mexican War.
Ironically the only other non CW brother medals combination also had Canadian connections with the Nova Scotian born Miller brothers, oft covered in this space. They were the only brother set in the Spanish American War to be so honoured.
Last blog I started to introduce the complicated story of the Gaujot brothers with the family being in Ontario for about a decade in the 1880's. In that blog I managed to mispell the family surname and also that of sister Clothilde who was born at Belleville. Sorry folks!
By 1896 Tony was registered as a student with the forerunner of today's Virginia Tech, the Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College. With the start of the Spanish American War in 1898, he left his schooling before completion, to enroll in the military. He was only 19 years old and needed his parents signature in order that he be allowed to sign up and obtained same. His brother had also attended the College and left also pre-graduation, years earlier. (The college would eventually educate seven Medal of Honor men, Antoine being the first and brother Julien the second of the seven recipients.)
Tony was enrolled in July of 1898 in the 2nd West Virgina Volunteer Infantry. In fact his brother Julien may have been the very fellow enrolling him and, as a Captain, was the officer commanding K Company were Tony was assigned. On enrollment it seems he was immediately given the rank of a First Sergeant.
It would be only five months into the service that a major event would affect Tony's career. It wouldn't be the only one!
It happened at Camp Wetherill, Greenville South Carolina. This was a temporary camp set up for preparation to possibly move off to war in Cuba. On 29 November 1898 Tony entered the tent space of one of his privates... Frank Scurlock. (possibly Spurlock) The apparent intent of the entry was for Tony to arrest the private for some unknown infraction. Details are most schetchy but the results were not. Tony had obtained a revolver from his captain's quarters, unknowst to the captain, and with the revolver entered the private's tent and shot the soldier in the neck. On 5 December Private Scurlock died.
Tony was arrested, charged with murder and court-marshalled. But something strange then happened. He was orginally charged under one section of military law which, if convicted could have meant a possible death sentence. But then the charge was slighly altered which meant the subsequent sentence upon conviction, would result in quite less sever punishment. Whilst held in confinement for 2 months with loss of some of his pay and rank, the court ultimately acquitted Tony of the charge, released him and returned him to rank.
Upon release he was given a short furlough and shortly after that, his entire regiment was mustered out of service and thus releasing both him and brother Julien from further military service with the 2nd W Virgina Volunteers.
The grave marker, and the website publishing it make no reference to how this soldier came to an end in life!
At another internet site I found a partial list of the names of the men in the 2nd West Virgina. But it does not have any entry for a Frank Scurlock in K Company. It does however have one in K Company for a Frank SPURLOCK.
One might wonder if the name on the marker is accurate or not!
Some seven months later, in July of 1899 brother Julien again signed up with the military by enrolling in Company M of the 27th US Infantry. By the 31st of July he again enlisted brother Tony, this time with the rank of Corporal, and both were then serving at Camp Meade. The unit was in preparation to go to war during the Philippine Insurrection.
Prior to moving off, Tony got a leave in the San Francisco area and somehow managed to yet again draw unusual attention by getting himself shot in the foot. This was a non-military event but kept him away from his unit till mid October 1899.
(The above map shows the incredible distance from the American Eastern coastline (above and to left of image) to the Philippine Islands indicated with the red marker above and to the right.)
Unable to find a ford, Tony decided to go for a swim. A very dangerous one across the very heavy currents and under close guard by more than 80 insurgents who were trying their best to kill him. Finally making his way across, swimming most of the way underwater, he crossed and found either one or, some say, two canoes. With their ropes literally in his mouth he managed to swim back to the friendly shore with the canoe or both trailing behind. It was a miracle that his only wound from this incredible bravery was a shoulder shot. From this event many troops eventually made their way across the river and the town was eventually captured.
Tony was later recommended for commissioning and still later for the Medal of Honor. The medal was granted about a decade later by President Taft and was based on this very event in the Philippines.
To the right is a cute article from the 1950's reflecting on the brothers Gaujot and both being recipients of the Medal of Honor.
Note the towing with his teeth and mention of 2 canoes whilst most records including the official citation only mention one.
Note also the silly news statement that these two men were the ONLY brothers EVER to earn the MOH. And also the misnaming of the medal as a Congressional medal.
Note also the reference to the medals being WON... enough for anyone to stop writing, and so I shall till next week with more...much more to come on Tony's adventures. And then we will have a look at his equally curious brother Julien.