Frank Tolan

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Frank Tolan
Born May 1854
Malone, New York, United States
Died 1899
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch United States Army
Years of service 1875–c. 1880
Rank Private
Unit 7th U.S. Cavalry
Battles/wars Indian Wars
Great Sioux War of 1876–77
Awards Medal of Honor

Frank Tolan (May 1854 – 1899) was an American private in the U.S. Army who served with the 7th U.S. Cavalry during the Great Sioux War of 1876–77. He was one of twenty-two soldiers received the Medal of Honor for gallantry, volunteering to carry water to wounded soldiers on Reno Hill, at the Battle of the Little Bighorn on June 25, 1876.


Tolan was born in Malone, New York in May 1854 and spent much of his early life as a farmer. At age 21, he enlisted in the United States Army in Boston, Massachusetts as a private with the 7th U.S. Cavalry Regiment on August 31, 1875.[1]

Tolan saw action in the Montana Territory during the Great Sioux War of 1876–77 and, on June 25, 1876, was present at the Battle of the Little Bighorn against Chief Sitting Bull and the Sioux. A member of Company D under Captain Thomas Weir, he and several other soldiers volunteered to carry water from the Little Bighorn River to wounded soldiers at the Reno-Benteen site "under a most galling fire". He and the other Little Bighorn water carriers were among the twenty-two soldiers recommended for the Medal of Honor, Tolan officially receiving his award on October 5, 1878.[1][2][3][4][5][6][7][8][9][10][11][12][13][14][15][16][17][18][19]

Although disappearing from record soon after his discharge around 1880, the Boston Globe reported in 1887 that its military editor was in possession of Tolan's MOH which "was obtained by a comrade from an Indian squaw".[20]

Medal of Honor citation[edit]

Rank and organization: Private, Company D, 7th U.S. Cavalry. Place and date: At Little Big Horn, Mont., 25 June 1876. Entered service at: Boston, Mass. Birth: Malone, N.Y. Date of issue: 5 October 1878.


Voluntarily brought water to the wounded under fire.[21]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Carroll, John M., ed. They Rode with Custer: A Biographical Directory of the Men That Rode with General George A. Custer. Mattituck, New York: J.M. Carroll & Company, 1993.
  2. ^ Beyer, Walter F. and Oscar Frederick Keydel, ed. Deeds of Valor: From Records in the Archives of the United States Government; how American Heroes Won the Medal of Honor; History of Our Recent Wars and Explorations, from Personal Reminiscences and Records of Officers and Enlisted Men who Were Rewarded by Congress for Most Conspicuous Acts of Bravery on the Battle-field, on the High Seas and in Arctic Explorations. Vol. 2. Detroit: Perrien-Keydel Company, 1906. (pg. 221)
  3. ^ Dustin, Fred. The Custer Tragedy: Events Leading Up To and Following the Little Big Horn Campaign of 1876. Ann Arbor, Michigan: Edwards Brothers, 1939. (pg. 231)
  4. ^ Chandler, Melbourne C. Of GarryOwen in Glory: The History of the Seventh United States Cavalry Regiment. Annandale, Virginia: The Turnpike Press, 1960. (pg. 397)
  5. ^ Magnussen, Daniel O., ed. Peter Thompson's Narrative of the Little Bighorn Campaign, 1876: A Critical Analysis of an Eyewitness Account of the Custer Debacle. Glendale, California: Arthur H. Clark Company, 1974. (pg. 315) ISBN 0-87062-108-4
  6. ^ Brininstool, E.A. A Trooper with Custer, and Other Historic Incidents of the Battle of the Little Big Horn. New York: Cooper Square Publishers, 1975. (pg. 267) ISBN 0-8154-0500-6
  7. ^ Hammer, Kenneth M., ed. Custer in '76: Walter Camp's Notes on the Custer Fight. Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University Press, 1976. (pg. 268) ISBN 0-8425-0399-4
  8. ^ Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs. Medal of Honor recipients, 1863-1973, 93rd Cong., 1st sess. Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office, 1973.
  9. ^ Hannings, Bud. A Portrait of the Stars and Stripes. Glenside, Pennsylvania: Seniram Publishing, 1988. (pg. 400) ISBN 0-922564-00-0
  10. ^ 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
  11. ^ Schoenberger, Dale T. The End of Custer: The Death of an American Military Legend. Surrey, British Columbia: Hancock House Publishers, 1995. (pg. 243) ISBN 0-88839-288-5
  12. ^ Russell, Jerry L., ed. 1876 Facts About Custer and the Battle of the Little Big Horn. New York: Da Capo Press, 1999. (pg. 35) ISBN 1-882810-34-1
  13. ^ Hatch, Thom. The Custer Companion: A Comprehensive Guide to the Life of George Armstrong Custer and the Plains Indian Wars. Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania: Stackpole Books, 2002. ISBN 0-8117-0477-7
  14. ^ Scott, Douglas D., P. Willey and Melissa A. Connor. They Died With Custer: Soldiers' Bones from the Battle of the Little Bighorn. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2002. (pg. 45) ISBN 0-8061-3507-7
  15. ^ Yenne, Bill. Indian Wars: The Campaign for the American West. Yardley, Pennsylvania: Westholme Publishing, 2006. (pg. 207) ISBN 1-59416-016-3
  16. ^ Brust, James S., Brian C. Pohanka and Sandy Barnard. Where Custer Fell: Photographs of the Little Bighorn Battlefield Then and Now. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2007. (pg. 196) ISBN 0-8061-3834-3
  17. ^ 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. 141) ISBN 0-7864-2936-4
  18. ^ Sterner, C. Douglas (1999). "MOH Citation for Frank Tolan". MOH Recipients: Indian Campaigns. Retrieved June 30, 2010. 
  19. ^ Army Times Publishing Company. "Military Times Hall of Valor: Frank Tolan". Awards and Citations: Medal of Honor. Retrieved June 30, 2010. 
  20. ^ "Military. Grape and Canister.". Boston Globe. February 6, 1887. 
  21. ^ "Medal of Honor recipients". Indian War Campaigns. United States Army Center of Military History. June 8, 2009. Retrieved June 29, 2009. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Carroll, John M., ed. They Rode with Custer: A Biographical Directory of the Men That Rode with General George A. Custer. Mattituck, New York: J.M. Carroll & Company, 1993.
  • Williams, Roger L. Military Register of Custer's Last Command. Norman, Oklahoma: Arthur H. Clark Company, 2009. ISBN 0-87062-368-0

External links[edit]