The Honorable Adam Smith, Chairman
The Honorable Mac Thornberry, Ranking Member
House Armed Services Committee
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515
Dear Chairman Smith and Ranking Member Thornberry:
I am writing you regarding H. R. 3467 “Remove the Stain Act,” to implore the House Armed Services Committee to take no action on this historically deficient bill. In doing so, I wish to set the record straight regarding the Army’s actions at Wounded Knee and the men who were awarded Medals of Honor for their gallantry, heroism, and fortitude on that battlefield.
I am a retired Army officer with three decades of active service in uniform, a military historian who has researched and written about the Army’s actions at Wounded Knee for two decades, and a descendant of a survivor of the Battle of Wounded Knee. Retired from active service, I now serve on the faculty and staff at the U.S. Army War College at Carlisle Barracks. However, I am writing to you as a private citizen, not in an official capacity.
My great great grandfather was Brig. Gen. Samuel M. Whitside, who, as a major in the 7th Cavalry in 1890, commanded that regiment’s First Battalion, captured Chief Spotted Elk’s band near Porcupine Butte, and escorted them to his camp at the Wounded Knee Creek crossing. Most of the soldiers who were killed the following day were from his battalion, and he was consulted on most of the medals awarded to 7th Cavalry troopers.
The House Armed Services Committee should allow the “Remove the Stain Act” to die in committee for three reasons, which I explain in detail on the following pages.
1) It all but ignores, and at times misrepresents, the well documented historical record that articulates the Army and the War Department’s official position on Wounded Knee and the honors conferred.
2) It presents only the perspective of the Lakota peoples, whose ancestors were the very forces that opposed U.S. Soldiers at Wounded Knee.
3) It does what has never been done in our Nation’s history, that is, consult the perspective of the opponent of our U.S. Soldiers in a particular conflict to determine if medals should be rescinded.
To pass such an Act now or any time in the future would set a precedent for all future generations of Americans to rescind any medal from any conflict to which such a generation may take umbrage, regardless of the facts and established record.