The Dominion of Canada was only four months old when Jimmy was already in the US and in Missouri at a recruitment centre at St. Levi. He wanted to get back on that childhood cowboy horse and so he enlisted with the 6th US Cavalry. Living the rough life must have agreed for him because he stuck it out for over five years chasing the Natives across the state and elsewhere.
But it would be just a few miles inside the Texas border that Jimmy would perform deeds that made him a national hero. Too bad he did not sign up under his real name though. He chose instead to go under the name James Anderson. No matter! He still did good.
It would happen at a place called Bluff Creek which was along the Wichita River, marked "A" in the above map. It would be about 75 miles north west of his home base at Fort Richardson, marked "B" and yet another 75 north west of Fort Worth Texas.
In July of 1870 the roaming natives attacked a stage coach. Within weeks 60 cavalrymen would be fighting with over 250 warriors. The Cavalry took many casualties. In late October they had been on yet another patrol in search of the natives and by October 5 a small party of six men would find a war-party of natives and attacked them. In the skirmish several natives were killed or wounded and many more fled for their lives. The unit managed to capture many of the natives supplies and also brought back 18 of the war-party horses.
While the records found so far have yet to reveal exactly what the five cavalrymen did during this skirmish, the records do reveal that all 5 would be awarded Medals of Honor about 6 weeks later. James was one of these. The 6th was a civilian scout and he to would receive the medal. But many years later the government decided to change the rules... and even back date then so that many medals awarded up to 50 years earlier were then rescinded. This scout's was one of them. But many a year later this case was again reversed and the medal stood as legitimate once more.
James Anderson was a private when he was awarded this Medal. But by the time he was released just 2 years later at the end of his service he had been not only a Sergeant but also a 2nd Lieutenant, and held the later rank upon release.
A few years after serving James got married but the couple never had children. But during this time he had dropped his surname of Anderson and adopted the name of Smythe, and at times just Smyth. His Medal was however issued to him under the surname Anderson as that was the name he used throughout his service. Since marriage in 1880 he worked for the rest of his life as an engineer, and under the name Smythe.
His real name was James Anderson Smythe!
He died in 1918 at the young age of 69. Plus three days.
Regular readers of these blogs will also hopefully remember the blog that brought you the story about the President of the Medal of Honor Society at the time who played an instrumental role in the creation of these new markers. He name was Charles McGillivary and he was a recipient for actions in WW11 at the Battle of the Bulge. And he was also a Canadian from PEI.
If you are ever in Missouri, try to visit the Mount Hope Cemetery in Webb City Mo. There is a wonderful "Veterans Memorial of Timeless Honor" that was unveiled there in 2002 in honour of the war dead from many wars. It also includes a memorial in recognition of the state's Medal of Honor recipients. It had inscribed the names of 76 heroes and ought to be a wonderful site to see if you are in the area.
For those that can not make it, here it is, thanks ever so much to the good folks at the Webb City Genealogical Society.
Please note the name of Quebec hero James Anderson, the name he chose for his military service.
Also note at the bottom the name of another cavalryman by the name of Mosher A Harding. He would earn his MOH a year before Smythe at a place called the Chiricahua Mountains in Arizona. He was born in what was once called Canada West. (Ont.)
James Anderson Smythe died on 31 May 1918, exactly 95 years ago yesterday.