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James Joseph Bell
Born (1845-07-01)July 1, 1845
Died June 1, 1901(1901-06-01) (aged 55)
Place of birth County Antrim, Ireland
Place of death Chicago Illinois
Place of burial Mount Olivet Cemetery, Chicago
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch United States Army
Years of service 1870 - 1901
Rank Sergeant
Unit Company E 7th Infantry
Battles/wars Indian Wars
Awards Medal of Honor

James Joseph Bell (July 1, 1845 – June 1, 1901) was a United States Army soldier received the Medal of Honor during the Indian Wars. His name is sometimes incorrectly given as James M. Bell.

Early yearsEdit

James Bell was born in County Antrim, Ireland in June 1845 (his gravestone says July 1, 1845). He came to the U.S. in 1866, working initially as a laborer. On July 9, 1870, he enlisted in the U.S. Army and was assigned to Company E Seventh Infantry. He reenlisted five years later.

The Great Sioux War of 1876-77Edit

In March 1876, Company E Seventh Infantry, commanded by Captain Walter Clifford, departed their station at Camp Baker, Montana, to join General John Gibbon in preparation to launching against the Lakota and Northern Cheyenne who had refused to come into the reservations. The company arrived at Fort Ellis near Bozeman where other troops were gathering. In April, the column departed, heading east along the Yellowstone River and finally meeting up with General Alfred Terry's column in early June. After Lieutenant Colonel George Custer's column broke off heading up the Rosebud, the Terry-Gibbon column marched up the Yellowstone and then turned up the Rosebud River. They arrived at the tragic scene of the Battle of the Little Bighorn two days after Custer and his men had lost their lives.

On July 9, 1876, General Terry called for volunteers to carry a message to General George Crook about the Custer disaster and to offering to coordinate their columns against the hostile Indians. To accomplish this dangerous mission through hostile country, three privates from Captain Clifford's company volunteered to carry the message: Bell, William Evans, and Benjamin F. Stewart. It took the soldiers three days to make their way to General Crook's camp near present-day Sheridan, Wyoming. For their bravery, all three soldiers were awarded the Medal of Honor on December 2, 1876. The citation reads "Carried dispatches to Gen. Crook at the imminent risk of his life."

Later lifeEdit

Private Bell was promoted to sergeant and spent the remainder of his professional life in the Army, serving eight enlistments in all. He was married in 1888 and had one son, born at Fort Logan in 1897. Bell returned to Chicago where he died on July 1, 1901. He was buried in the Mount Olivet Cemetery in Chicago.

See alsoEdit


Private Bell should not to be confused with two-time Medal of Honor recipient James Franklin Bell who later obtained the rank of Major General or with Sergeant James B. Bell of the 11th Ohio Infantry, who was awarded his medal during the Civil War


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