His father was a medical doctor in Philadelphia and practiced medicine before moving to Bucks County, Pennsylvania where he continued practicing his profession. Herron was only two years old when his mother died and he was placed in the care of his aunt. He attended the public schools of Fallsington until he moved to Hannahville, Canal Township, in Vanango County, Pennsylvania.
From 1858 to 1862 Leander worked on a packet boat on the canal between Erie and Pittsburgh.
Civil War service
On December 10, 1863, shortly before his 17th birthday, Herron enlisted in Company C, 83rd Pennsylvania Infantry in New Brighton, Pennsylvania. When he enlisted, he was 5 feet 1 inch tall and weighed slightly more than 100 pounds. He served with the 83rd Pennsylvania in the Siege of Petersburg and at Appomattox Court House. He was mustered out with his regiment on June 28, 1865.
Medal of Honor action
Herron left Fort Larned on the evening of September 1, 1868 to deliver mail to Fort Dodge - about 75 miles away. En route, he passed a labor detail of four soldiers from Fort Dodge gathering wood for use at the fort. The following day, Leander was supposed to make the return trip. Corporal Patrick Boyle of the 7th Cavalry accompanied Herron.
After traveling about 12 miles, they heard gunfire. The labor detail Herron encountered the night before was being attacked by Indians. With pistols drawn, Herron and Boyle rode directly through the attackers and reached the imperiled soldiers. Herron took charge and the six men fought from behind a wagon confronting about fifty Indians. Herron decided to send Boyle to Fort Dodge for re-enforcements.
The five remaining soldiers fought off repeated assaults through the night. As the night passed, the supply of ammunition diminished and all the soldiers, other than Herron, were wounded. Finally, Boyle and the reinforcements from Fort Dodge arrived. The attackers fled and the labor detail was saved.
He did not receive the Medal of Honor until 1919 – 51 years after his heroic actions. He was the first Nebraskan to receive the Medal of Honor.
After being discharged from the Army in 1870, Herron settled in St. Paul, Nebraska.
In the 1930s Herron made a recorded interview with Captain Eddie Rickenbacker, who was also a Medal of Honor recipient, for the Chevrolet Chronicles radio show. In the recording Herron recounts the actions for which he received the Medal of Honor. The recording is now available at the Fort Larned National Historic Site website.
Corporal Leander Herron died on April 5, 1937 and is buried in the Elmwood Cemetery in St. Paul, Nebraska.
Medal of Honor citation
While detailed as mail courier from the fort, voluntarily went to the assistance of a party of 4 enlisted men, who were attacked by about 50 Indians at some distance from the fort and remained with them until the party was relieved.