Private Mosheim Feaster, E Troop, 7th Cavalry – Extraordinary Gallantry


For extraordinary gallantry, advancing to an exposed position and holding it, in action against hostile Sioux Indians, at Wounded Knee Creek, South Dakota.

Twenty-one-year-old Mosheim Feaster had been in the Army little more than a year and in the 7th Cavalry less than that when he arrived with his unit at Major S. M. Whitside’s camp along the Wounded Knee Creek on 28 December 1890.  The following morning he distinguished himself during that tragic day’s fighting.  His battalion commander, Captain Charles S. Ilsley  noticed two of his troopers in the distance move to an exposed position that was under effective fire from a pocket of concealed Indians.  Ilsley did not recognize who the trooper was, but later learned the name from some of his non-commissioned officers that were also involved in the effort to dislodge the recalcitrant warriors.

(Click to enlarge) Captain C. S. Ilsley's letter of recommendation.

(Click to enlarge) Captain C. S. Ilsley’s letter of recommendation.

I have the honor very respectfully to recommend that a Medal of Honor be awarded to Pvt. Mosheim Feaster, troop E 7 Cavalry for extraordinary gallantry at the battle of Wounded Knee Creek, S. Dak., Dec. 29, 1890.  At the time I was not present with the troop, but was in command of the battalion and from the position which I occupied distance of 600 yards observed this man but could not distinguish him, but have since learned that it was Private Feaster, from others.  I enclose herewith affidavits of Sergt. Major McMillan, 7 Cavalry, Sergeant Austin, troop E 7 Cavalry and Corporal Sullivan, troop E 7 Cavalry.[1]

Second Lieutenant Sedgwick Rice described this event in his testimony at Major Kent and Captain Baldwin’s investigation of Wounded Knee, “Immediately after that I got an order to take my platoon and go up and clear out the ravine. I went up dismounted in a skirmish line to the right, and struck the ravine above the place marked ‘Pocket’ on the map submitted, and worked down the ravine towards camp.  On my way up the ravine to the position described, I saw a number of killed and wounded Indians, who were principally bucks.”  Rice also mentioned the event to Colonel Heyl when that officer was investigating acts of gallantry, “Immediately after the outbreak at Wounded Knee, our troop was ordered to clear out a ravine in which a party of Indians had taken a strong position in a pocket in the ravine.  I think we were engaged there about two hours.” [2]

Two non-commissioned officers from E Troop provided affidavits testifying to Fesater’s gallant conduct at the pocket.  Sergeant Major Albert W. McMillan, who was a sergeant at Wounded Knee and later promoted to the vacancy created by Sergeant Major Corwine’s death, also was awarded a Medal of Honor for his actions at the pocket.  Regarding the action that day, McMillan swore to the following:

That Private Thomas Sullivan (now Corporal) and Private Mosheim Feaster, Troop “E” 7th Cavalry, when volunteers were called for to move from the left of our skirmish line and move to an exposed position (about 40yds distant from the concealed Indians) which would command this pocket to better advantage, did voluntarily and of their own accord move to this position and their bravery at that time called forth the following remark from 1st Lieut H. G. Sickel 7th Cavalry Commanding Troop, “men, Sullivan and Feaster have been brave men to-day.”[ 3]

The other non-commissioned officer that was deposed on 26 March 1891 was Sergeant William G. Austin, who also received a Medal of Honor for his actions at the pocket.  Austin testified on 26 March 1891 stating the following:

Private Mosheim Feaster was awarded the Medal of Honor on 23 June 1891 along with four other troopers from the 7th Cavalry: Albert McMillan, Thomas Sullivan, and Hermann Zeigner, all of E Troop, and George Hobday of A Troop. The Adjutant General’s Office mailed the medals in a group to the regiment’s commander for presentation.[5]

(Click to enlarge) Private Mosheim Feaster was awarded the Medal of Honor on 23 June 1891 along with four other troopers from the 7th Cavalry: Albert McMillan, Thomas Sullivan, and Hermann Zeigner, all of E Troop, and George Hobday of A Troop. The Adjutant General’s Office mailed the medals in a group to the regiment’s commander for presentation.[5]

…at the battle of Wounded Knee, S.D. Dec 29th, 1890, Private Mosheim Feaster Troop “E” 7th Cavalry, displayed especial courage and conducted himself with exceeding bravery under the following circumstances; that, Troop “E” 7th Cavalry being deployed in skirmish line along the north side of a ravine and endeavoring to drive out of a pocket in the ravine several Indians who were under cover there, and being good shots, were enabled by said cover to do great injury to the men attacking them, Private Feaster did of his own accord and voluntarily take an exposed position at the foot of a knoll, rising from the center of the ravine about 75yds distant from the Indians and remained there; and that it is the belief of the deponent that Private Feaster, by holding this position and by his execution saved the lives of several of his comrades.[4]

Known to his family and friends as Frank, his parents, Conrad and Mary Amanda Feaster, named him Mosheim Kitzmiller.  He was born in the county of Bedford at Schellsburg, Pennsylvania, on 23 May 1869, although many of his records and his grave stone indicate he was born in 1867; he was the third child of his father’s second marriage.  A carpenter and son of French and Swiss immigrants, Conrad Feaster was forty-seven when his seventh child and third son was born.  Conrad’s parents were Martin Feaster and Anna Barbara Egli.  His first wife, Jane Darr, had passed away fourteen years earlier in 1855 after bearing four children including two daughters, Juliet and Eliza, and two sons, William and Harman. Conrad’s second wife, and mother of Mosheim, was Mary Amanda Horn, the daughter of Daniel Horn and Susanna Hoyer.  Mosheim was baptized on 16 December 1870 at St. Matthews Evangelical Church by the Reverend J. H. A. Kitzmiller, certainly the origin of Feaster’s middle name.  Mosheim’s two older sisters by his mother were Mrs. Miranda Catherine Imler, born in 1856 and died in 1934, and Amanda Catherine Horn, born in 1863.  Conrad Feaster’s second wife died in 1892, and at the age of seventy-four, he married Nancy Miller in 1896.  She was a sixty-six-year-old spinster and native of St Clair, the daughter of John S. Miller and Maria Stern.  Conrad died in 1904 at Wichita, Kansas, while living with his widowed daughter, Mrs. Juliet Ketring.[6]

Mosheim Feaster spent his childhood in Schellsburg, but may have moved to Columbus, Ohio, as a teenager where his eldest brother, William, was working as a carriage trimmer and living with his wife, Jennie.  At the age of twenty Mosheim went to a recruiter in Cleveland on 23 October 1889 and enlisted for five years in the cavalry.  Feaster indicated that he was twenty-two, likely to avoid the requirement for parental permission to enlist under the age of twenty-one, and listed his occupation as that of his father, a carpenter.  Feaster stood five feet, seven and a half inches tall with brown eyes, dark brown hair, and a dark complexion.[7]

Feaster left the Army after completing three years of his five year commitment.  In an effort to curb desertions, the Army in 1890 established a provision that authorized soldiers three months of furlough after completing three years of their enlistment.  The general order also permitted a soldier to voluntarily leave the army at the end of his furlough regardless of the time remaining on his enlistment.  Under this General Order No. 80, Feaster left on furlough on 22 October 1892, and was discharged at his own request effective 22 January 1893 at the rank of ‘Private’ with an ‘Excellent’ characterization of his service.[8]

He applied himself again as a carpenter, probably in Columbia or Cleveland, Ohio, but returned to the Army less than a year later.  On 8 October 1893 Feaster enlisted, this time in the 10th Infantry regiment, where he served in Companies E and G and earned his sergeant’s chevrons, although his rank changed frequently.  Feaster was promoted to corporal two months after enlisting, to sergeant five months after that, and then reduced to private a year later.  By the time of the Spanish American War Feaster was again a sergeant, and it was while in Cuba with the 10th that he once more received honorable mention.[9]

Feaster received honorable mention for gallantry at Santiago, Cuba, during the Spanish-American War, action for which he would later be awarded a Silver Star.[10]

Feaster received honorable mention for gallantry at Santiago, Cuba, during the Spanish-American War, action for which he would later be awarded a Silver Star.[10]

Company G, 10th U.S. Infantry Regiment was commanded by Captain Robert C. Van Vliet at the battles of El Caney and Santiago.  Van Vliet was cited for gallantry on 1 July and recommended for a brevet promotion as were both of his lieutenants, First Lieutenant Carl Koops and Second Lieutenant Alga P. Berry.  One officer and five men from the regiment were killed in action during the fighting around El Caney and Santiago.  Van Vliet and Koops were both wounded in action along with thirty-five men from the 10th Infantry.  Koops died of yellow fever the following month.  In addition to the officers, seven of the G Company non-commissioned officers were also cited for gallantry, specifically for advancing beyond the line of battle.  Corporal Feaster was one of those to receive honorable mention.  This resulted in his being awarded a silver citation to be worn on his Spanish Campaign Medal, which was later converted to a Silver Star medal once that decoration was established.[11]

Some thirty years removed from the fighting around Santiago, Van Vliet reminisced on his company’s actions in Cuba:

At this time we could hear, three miles away, the light guns of General Lawton’s division, storming the outpost of El Caney.  San Juan having been swept out of the way, the orders were to immediately invest the city.  It surely was “a thin blue line,” that ran in a semi-circle around Santiago, 12,000 men for eight miles.  The 10th Infantry, were directed by a staff officer to occupy “the little green hill,” promptly deployed skirmishers, and advanced firing. The enemy using smokeless were unseen, but the air was full of bullet.
….
From the time of the advance, and for the first two or three days of the investment, the regiment had many casualties.  Gaining our objective toward dusk, we immediately dug in, working all night with intrenching tools, mess pans, bayonets, and a few shovels and picks sent to us by General Joe Wheeler.  We finally finished before daybreak and had a chance as the sun came up to take our bearings.  To our right oblique lay the city some five thousand yards away, between us a seemingly impassable jungle of Chaparral, a few hundred yards to our front a Spanish trench, which was soon vacated. Grimes’ battery now opened fire.  I counted fourteen shots and then the black powder gave the game away.  We tried rifle fire, but there was nothing much to aim at and our shots brought such a hail of bullets that the reserves and troops in the rear were much endangered…. Lying in the unprotected trenches under a tropical sun, drenched frequently by the tropical rain, made a very unhappy army.  Water was very scarce, the method of procuring it very dangerous.  A man with twenty canteens slung over his shoulder made a dash for a little stream some hundreds of yards to the rear; if he was playing in luck, he got back.  Private Cox of my company was killed while attempting it….
The official records will show the casualties of the regiment.  I do not know how they compared with those of other organizations, but they were enough, and when on that blistering morning I got mine, as Bert Harte says, “The subsequent proceedings interested me no more.”[12]

Shortly after returning from Cuba Feaster completed his three-year enlistment with the 10th Infantry.  After a short furlough, he again enlisted at Cleveland and was assigned to E  and later H Company, 3rd Infantry, with whom he served in the Philippines for almost three years rising to the rank of first sergeant.  Feaster went on to serve successive enlistments in the 4th Infantry and 15th Infantry, ultimately retiring on 8 September 1914 while serving as first sergeant of K Company, 8th Infantry.[13]

As a forty-five-year-old retired first sergeant—forty-seven according to his military records—Feaster settled in San Francisco where he married Edelmira Diaz, a California native in her early twenties.  Feaster worked as a transportation clerk at the Presidio eventually becoming a pier superintendent for the Army.  Frank and Edelmira Feaster had three children together: Mrs. Adela Claire Drewien, born in 1917; William John, born in 1922 and died in 1997; and Mrs. Juanita June Livingstone, born in 1924.[14]

First Sergeant Feaster died on 22 March 1950 at the age of eighty, eighty-two according to his records and his grave marker.  He was laid to rest in the Golden Gate National Cemetery in San Bruno, just south of San Francisco.  For unknown reasons First Sergeant Feaster’s headstone mistakenly lists him as a first lieutenant.  His wife, Edelmira, may have remarried a gentleman by the name of Hoobler.  She passed away in 1957 and was buried in the Holy Cross Catholic Cemetery in Colma, California, about five miles from Mosheim Feaster’s resting place.[15]

First Sergeant Mosheim Feaster is buried in the Golden Gate National Cemetery in San Bruno, California. His headstone erroneously lists him as a First Lieutenant.[16]

First Sergeant Mosheim Feaster is buried in the Golden Gate National Cemetery in San Bruno, California. His headstone erroneously lists him as a First Lieutenant.[16]

Endnotes:

[1] Adjutant General’s Office, Medal of Honor file for Mosheim Feaster, Principal Record Division, file 3466, Record Group: 94, Stack area: 8W3, Row: 7, Compartment 30, Shelf: 2; C. H. Carlton to Adjutant General’s Office dated 22 April 1891, Source data: The National Archives, Principal Record Division, file 6776, Record Group: 94, Stack area: 8W3, Row: 7, Compartment 30, Shelf: 3. Research conducted by Vonnie S. Zullo of The Horse Soldier Research Service.
[2] Ibid.
[3] Ibid.
[4] Ibid.
[5] Ibid.
[6] St. Matthew’s Evangelical Church, “Births and Baptisms,” Schellsburg, Penn., 12; Ancestry.com, United States Federal Census [database on-line], Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2009, Year: 1850, Census Place: Harrison, Bedford, Pennsylvania, Roll: M432_751, Page: 196A, Image: 393; Year: 1860, Census Place: Schellsburg, Bedford, Pennsylvania, Roll: M653_1072, Page: 512, Image: 520, Family History Library Film: 805072; Year: 1870, Census Place: Schellsburg, Bedford, Pennsylvania, Roll: M593_1304, Page: 607A, Image: 538, Family History Library Film: 552803; Year: 1880, Census Place: Schellsburg, Bedford, Pennsylvania, Roll: 1098, Family History Film: 1255098, Page: 264C, Enumeration District: 230, Image: 0533; Rob and Debi McHaffie Felten, “Mary Amanda Horn Feaster,” FindAGrave, (http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=119645969&ref=acom) accessed 18 Nov 2014; Bill Pennington, “Conrad A. Feaster,” FindAGrave, (http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=23779897) accessed 18 Nov 2014.
[7] United States Federal Census, Year: 1880, Census Place: Columbus, Franklin, Ohio, Roll: 1017, Family History Film: 1255017, Page: 379D, Enumeration District: 037, Image: 0100; Ancestry.com, U.S. Army, Register of Enlistments, 1798-1914 [database on-line], Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2007.
[8] Don Rickey, Jr., Forty Miles a Day on Beans and Hay: The Enlisted Soldier Fighting the Indian Wars (Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 1963), 338; U.S. Army, Register of Enlistments, 1798-1914.
[9] Department of Military and Veteran’s Affairs, Spanish American War Veteran’s Compensation File, Record Group 19, Pennsylvania State Archives, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Reel Number: RG-19:536.
[10] United States Army, General Orders and Circulars, Adjutant General’s Office, 1900 (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1901), General Order no. 15, 11.
[11] Fitzhugh Lee, Joseph Wheeler, Theodore Roosevelt, Richard Wainwright, Cuba’s Struggle Against Spain with the Causes of American Intervention and a Full Account of the Spanish-American War, Including Final Peace Negotiations (New York: The American Historical Press, 1899), 509, 519, and 525; The Sun, New York, 29 Aug 1898, 3; Elihu Root, Elihu Root collection of United States Documents, ser. A.-F (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1901), 11.
[12] Robert C. Van Vliet, “As a Captain Tells the Story,” from The Santiago campaign; reminiscences of the operations for the capture of Santiago de Cuba in the Spanish-American war, June and July, 1898, written by participants in the campaign and published by the Society of Santiago de Cuba by Society of the Army of Santiago de Cuba (Richmond: Williams Printing Company, 1927), 317-319.
[13] Spanish American War Veteran’s Compensation File, Reel Number: RG-19:536; War Department, Special Orders, 1914, vol. 2 (https://archive.org/details/specialorders1914v2unit) accessed 12 Nov 14.
[14] United States Federal Census, Year: 1920, Census Place: San Francisco Assembly District 30, San Francisco, California, Roll: T625_139, Page: 7B, Enumeration District: 224; Image: 19; Year: 1930, Census Place: San Francisco, San Francisco, California, Roll: 203, Page: 16A, Enumeration District: 0252, Image: 1053.0, FHL microfilm: 2339938.
[15] State of California, California Death Index, 1940-1997, (Sacramento, CA, USA: State of California Department of Health Services, Center for Health Statistics), Place: San Mateo, Date: 18 Mar 1950; Interment Control Forms, 1928–1962, Interment Control Forms, A1 2110-B, Records of the Office of the Quartermaster General, 1774–1985, Record Group 92, (College Park: The National Archives), Cemetery: Golden Gate National Cemetery, Burial Location: San Bruno, California; Ancestry.com, California, San Francisco Area Funeral Home Records, 1895-1985[database on-line], Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010.
[16] Wikipedia, “Mosheim Feaster headstone front,” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mosheim_Feaster#mediaviewer/File:Mosheim_Feaster_headstone_front.JPG) accessed 18 Nov 2014.

Citation for this article: Samuel L. Russell, “Private Mosheim Feaster, E Troop, 7th Cavalry – Extraordinary Gallantry,” Army at Wounded Knee (Sumter, SC: Russell Martial Research, 2013-2015, http://wp.me/p3NoJy-Ca), posted 18 Nov 2014, accessed date __________.

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About Sam Russell

I am a fifth-generation Army officer with over twenty-eight years of commissioned service. I have been researching the frontier Army for over fifteen years and am interested in documenting the lives of the soldiers that participated in the battle of Wounded Knee using primarily official reports, diaries, letters, newspaper articles and other primary source documents. My interest in Wounded Knee stems from my kinship to one of the principal participants. I am the great-great-grandson of Samuel M. Whitside, who was a major and battalion commander at the battle. I welcome and encourage comments on posts and pages and am always interested in any new primary sources. If you have copies of letters, diaries, etc, from participants and are willing to share, please contact me. Disclaimer: The views expressed in this blog are strictly my own, and should in no way be construed as official Army or U.S. Government positons.
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One Response to Private Mosheim Feaster, E Troop, 7th Cavalry – Extraordinary Gallantry

  1. Thomas L says:

    Mosheim Feaster was My Grandfather. I am the son of Juanita Livingstone. I really appreciate the history lesson

    Liked by 1 person

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