William H. Strayer
|William H. Strayer|
Maytown, Pennsylvania, United States
|Service/branch||United States Army|
|Years of service||c. 1872–1874|
|Unit||3rd U.S. Cavalry|
|Awards||Medal of Honor|
Private William H. Strayer (born 1847, date of death unknown) was an American soldier in the U.S. Army who served with the 3rd U.S. Cavalry during the Indian Wars in Nebraska. He was one of four men, along with Sergeant John H. Foley, First Sergeant Leroy Vokes and civilian scout William F. "Buffalo Bill" Cody, awarded the Medal of Honor for gallantry in action against a Miniconjou Sioux raiding party at the Loupe Fork of the Platte River on April 26, 1872.
Born in 1847 in Maytown, Pennsylvania, Strayer enlisted in the United States Army in nearby Carlisle and was assigned to Company B of the 3rd U.S. Cavalry Regiment as a private. Sent out west to the frontier, he was later stationed at Fort McPherson under the command of Colonel Joseph J. Reynolds and saw action during the Indian wars in Nebraska during the early 1870s.
On April 25, 1872, Strayer left the fort with the rest of Company B led by Captain Charles Meinhold on the trail of a band of Miniconjou Sioux who had raided the McPherson station on the Union Pacific Railroad, located approximately five miles from the fort, killing several men and stealing a large number of horses. The regiment was guided by civilian scout William F. "Buffalo Bill" Cody and caught up to the Indian raiders the following morning, discovering their camp near the Loupe Fork (near present-day Stapleton, Nebraska) of the Platte River. Upon reaching the Loupe Fork, Captain Meinhold sent Cody and a detachment of ten soldiers under Sergeant John H. Foley for reconnaissance of the south bank of the river while the main force crossed to the north side.
Cody skillfully guided the soldiers to within fifty years of the Sioux camp before being discovered. Though outnumbered two-to-one, Foley decided to attack the raiders rather than risk them escaping. Strayer was among the troopers who followed Sergeant Foley's charge into the camp and, according to a later report by Meinhold, "bravely closed in upon an Indian while he was fired at several times, and wounded him". Three of the Indian raiders were killed, one by Cody and two others chased down by the main cavalry force as they attempted to flee, while six others out hunting were alerted by the gunfire and successfully escaped. With the Sioux raiding party broken up, Strayer and the three men who fought beside him, William Cody and Sergeants John Foley and Leroy Vokes, were cited for "gallantry in action" and awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor on May 22, 1872. After his discharge from Camp Sheridan on December 18, 1874, Strayer disappeared like so many other MOH recipients from the period. No subsequent public records, including pension or medical files, have been found.
Medal of Honor citation
Rank and organization: Private, Company B, 3d U.S. Cavalry. Place and date: At Loupe Forke, Platte River, Nebr., 26 April 1872. Entered service at: --. Birth: Maytown, Pa. Date of issue: 22 May 1872.
Gallantry in action.
- 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. 553)
- Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs. Medal of Honor recipients, 1863-1973, 93rd Cong., 1st sess. Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office, 1973. (pg. 324, 1096)
- Hannings, Bud. A Portrait of the Stars and Stripes. Glenside, Pennsylvania: Seniram Publishing, 1988. (pg. 267, 400) ISBN 0-922564-00-0
- 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. 27) ISBN 0-935269-07-X
- Sterner, C. Douglas (1999). "MOH Citation for William Strayer". MOH Recipients: Indian Campaigns. HomeofHeroes.com. Retrieved December 29, 2010.
- "William H. Strayer". Hall of Valor. Military Times. Retrieved August 30, 2011.
- Paul, R. Eli, ed. The Nebraska Indian Wars Reader, 1865-1877. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1998. (pg. 220, 226) ISBN 0-8032-8749-6
- Michno, Gregory. Encyclopedia of Indian Wars: Western Battles and Skirmishes, 1850-1890. Missoula, Montana: Mountain Press Publishing, 2003. (pg. 254-255, 387) ISBN 0-87842-468-7
- Warren, Louis S. Buffalo Bill's America: William Cody and the Wild West Show. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2005. (pg. 115-116) ISBN 0-375-41216-6
- Yenne, Bill. Indian Wars: The Campaign for the American West. Yardley, Pennsylvania: Westholme Publishing, 2006. (pg. 137) ISBN 1-59416-016-3
- "Medal of Honor recipients". Indian War Campaigns. United States Army Center of Military History. June 8, 2009. Retrieved June 29, 2009.
- Konstantin, Phil. This Day in North American Indian History: Important Dates in the History of North America's Native Peoples for Every Calendar Day. New York: Da Capo Press, 2002. ISBN 0-306-81170-7
- Wilson, D. Ray. Terror on the Plains: A Clash of Cultures. Dundee, Illinois: Crossroads Communications, 1999. ISBN 0-916445-47-X