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Thomas H. Forsyth
Born (1842-12-17)December 17, 1842
Died March 22, 1908(1908-03-22) (aged 65)
Place of birth Hartford, Connecticut, United States
Place of death San Diego, California
Place of burial Mount Hope Cemetery
Allegiance United States
Service/branch United States Army
Years of service c. 1876–1891
Rank First Sergeant
Unit 4th U.S. Cavalry
Battles/wars Indian Wars
Powder River Expedition
Awards Medal of Honor

First Sergeant Thomas Hall Forsyth (December 17, 1842 – March 22, 1908) was an American soldier in the U.S. Army who served with the 4th U.S. Cavalry during the Indian Wars. He received the Medal of Honor for gallantry against the Cheyenne Indians, rescuing his commanding officer and another wounded soldier, at the Powder River in Wyoming Territory on November 25, 1876. Although two fellow soldiers assisted in helping him protect their fallen commander, he is the only member of the Powder River Expedition to receive an award.


Thomas Hall Forsyth was born on December 17, 1842, to a wealthy family in Hartford, Connecticut. He later enlisted in the United States Army in St. Louis, Missouri and had a long and successful military career serving with 4th U.S. Cavalry on the Texas frontier. A commissary sergeant at Fort Davis, his privileged background allowed him a certain lifestyle above that of the average enlisted man. He "enjoyed dancing and music", played chess and subscribed to several eastern newspapers. He also directed the post talent show and was a member of the local lodges of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and Good Templars.[1]

Twice wounded in campaigns during the Indian Wars, Forsyth held a commendable service record as an experienced Indian fighter. While battling the Cheyenne at Powder River in the Wyoming Territory, on November 25, 1876, Forsyth took command of Company M when First Lieutenant John A. McKinney was mortally wounded. As McKinney lay dying by the river, Forsyth and two other men, Sergeant Frank Murray and Corporal William J. Linn, remained at his side despite all being wounded themselves. After the battle, all three were recommended for the Medal of Honor by Lieutenant Harrison G. Otis. The War Department failed to acknowledge their actions, however, for nearly 20 years. It was not until 1891, after a petition by former adjutant Joseph H. Dorst and other officers, that Forsyth finally received the award.[2][3][4][5][6][7][8][9][10] He was the only participant in the conflict to receive an honor. Forsyth died in San Diego, California on March 22, 1908, at the age of 65. He was interred at the Mount Hope Cemetery.[11]

Medal of Honor citationEdit

Rank and organization: First Sergeant, Company M, 4th U.S. Cavalry. Place and date: At Powder River, Wyo., 25 November 1876. Entered service at:------. Birth: Hartford, Conn. Date of issue: 14 July 1891.


Though dangerously wounded, he maintained his ground with a small party against a largely superior force after his commanding officer had been shot down during a sudden attack and rescued that officer and a comrade from the enemy.[12]

See alsoEdit


  1. Wooster, Robert. Soldiers, Sutlers, and Settlers: Garrison Life on the Texas Frontier. College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1987. (pg. 63) ISBN 0-89096-356-8
  2. Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs. Medal of Honor recipients, 1863-1978, 96th Cong., 1st sess. Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office, 1979. (pg. 283)
  3. Werner, Fred H. The Dull Knife Battle: Doomsday for the Northern Cheyennes. Greeley, Colorado: Werner Publications, 1981. (pg. 113) ISBN 0-933147-02-3
  4. Manning, Robert, ed. Above and Beyond: A History of the Medal of Honor from the Civil War to Vietnam. Boston: Boston Publishing Company, 1985. (pg. 325) ISBN 0-939526-19-0
  5. Hannings, Bud. A Portrait of the Stars and Stripes. Glenside, Pennsylvania: Seniram Publishing, 1988. (pg. 396) ISBN 0-922564-00-0
  6. O'Neal, Bill. Fighting Men of the Indian Wars: A Biographical Encyclopedia of the Mountain Men, Soldiers, Cowboys, and Pioneers Who Took Up Arms During America's Westward Expansion. Stillwater, Oklahoma: Barbed Wire Press, 1991. (pg. 31) ISBN 0-935269-07-X
  7. Greene, Jerome A. Morning Star Dawn: The Powder River Expedition and the Northern Cheyennes, 1876. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2003. (pg. 183-184) ISBN 0-8061-3548-4
  8. Nunnally, Michael L. American Indian Wars: A Chronology of Confrontations Between Native Peoples and Settlers and the United States Military, 1500s-1901. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland, 2007. (pg. 143) ISBN 0-7864-2936-4
  9. Sterner, C. Douglas (1999). "MOH Citation for Thomas Hall Forsyth". MOH Recipients: Indian Campaigns. Retrieved June 29, 2010. 
  10. Army Times Publishing Company. "Military Times Hall of Valor: Thomas Hall Forsyth". Awards and Citations: Medal of Honor. Retrieved June 29, 2010. 
  11. Sterner, C. Douglas (1999). "Photo of Grave site of MOH Recipient Thomas Hall Forsyth". Medal of Honor recipient Gravesites In The State of. Retrieved June 29, 2010. 
  12. "Medal of Honor recipients". Indian War Campaigns. United States Army Center of Military History. June 8, 2009. Retrieved June 29, 2009. 

Further readingEdit

  • McChristian, Douglas C. Uniforms, Arms, and Equipment: The U.S. Army on the Western Frontier, 1880-1892. Vol. 1. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2007. ISBN 0-8061-9961-X

External linksEdit

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