Captain Winfield Scott Edgerly, Commander, G Troop, 7th Cavalry

Several of these Indians were wounded, and I had my dressers care for the wounds dressing a child’s wound myself.

Capt. W. S. Edgerly

Captain Winfield S. Edgerly, Commander, G Troop, 7th Cavalry, at Pine Ridge Agency, 16 January 1891. Cropped from John C. H. Grabill’s photograph, “The Fighting 7th Officers.”

Captain Winfield Scott Edgerly was forty-four years old at Wounded Knee. He joined the 7th cavalry two decades earlier after graduating from West Point in June 1870. As the second lieutenant of D Company, Edgerly fought in Captain Benteen’s battalion at the Battle of Little Big Horn. Edgerly was appointed the captain of G troop in 1883 while on recruiting service and joined his new troop in the fall of 1884 commanding it since that time. He had with him at Wounded Knee his first lieutenant, Edwin P. Brewer, but his second lieutenant, J. Franklin Bell, had not yet rejoined the troop by the end of December. Edgerly’s first sergeant was twenty-five-year-old Frederick E. Toy, a New York native two years into his second enlistment. G Troop had four of its five sergeants present and four corporals. His troop served as part of the regiment’s 2nd Battalion, then commanded by Captain Charles Ilsley, and formed up mounted on the eastern side of the cavalry camp at Wounded Knee the morning of December 29th.

Writing to his wife at Fort Riley on the evening of December 29 after returning from Wounded Knee, Capt. Edgerly described his and his units actions that day. Continue reading

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Sergeant William Grafton Austin, E Troop, 7th Cavalry – Conspicuous Gallantry

He displayed great bravery in crossing the ravine under a hot fire and maintained his position there until his troop was withdrawn at the time the Hotchkiss gun was put in position.
–Lieutenant Sedgwick Rice

Sergeant William G. Austin had been in the cavalry and E Troop a month shy of four years when shots rang out on the Wounded Knee and the melee ensued at the council circle. By army records, the native Texan from Savannah, Georgia, was twenty-eight; in fact he was only twenty-two at the time of the battle. Despite his youth, Austin proved to be a leader of men rising rapidly to the rank of sergeant. His leadership was evident on December 29 catching the attention of the three officers of E Troop.

In the middle of March 1891, Lieutenants Horatio G. Sickel and Sedgwick Rice recommended Sergeant Austin and several other soldiers be awarded the Medal of Honor. Those recommendations were endorsed by the regiment’s adjutant, Lieutenant L. S. McCormick, in consultation with Major S. M. Whitside, who was commanding the regiment and post at the time while Colonel J. W. Forsyth was on leave. The Adjutant General provided a summary of the actions of all of the cavalrymen of E Troop recommended by the two lieutenants and wrote of the two sergeants, “McMillan and Austin were conspicuously brave, frequently exposing themselves to close fire from the ravine in order to obtain an advantage over the concealed Indians, and rendered much assistance in placing the men in good positions and encouraging them by good example.” Noting that Colonel Forsyth had not endorsed the recommendations, Major General John M. Schofield suggested on April 6 that all of the E Troop recommendations be returned to the 7th Cavalry for “personal action of the regimental commander.”[1] Continue reading

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First Lieutenant John Kinzie, Adjutant, 2nd Infantry – An Officer’s Account of Wounded Knee

I was hit early in the fight.

First Lieut. John Kinzie at Pine Ride in the summer of 1891.

The first published account of the battle at Wounded Knee from an officer present on the field came from an infantryman that had no official role in the battle and in all likelihood should not have been there. First Lieutenant John Kinzie was the forty-year-old adjutant of Colonel Frank Wheaton’s 2nd Infantry Regiment. The regiment was camped at the Pine Ridge Agency adjacent to the 7th Cavalry. The only indication of Kinzie’s reason for being at Wounded Knee on December 29, 1890, mentioned in the volumes of documents surrounding the campaign and Major General Miles’ investigation of the battle, came from a list of casualties compiled by Miles on January 3. He states that Kinzie was “by permission with Major Whiteside [sic].” A logical explanation of Kinzie’s presence at Wounded Knee would be as a liaison from the regiment to which Major Whitside was ordered to turn the Indians over to at Gordon, Nebraska, after securing the arms and ponies from Big Foot’s band.[1]

Kinzie probably came out to Wounded Knee the evening before the battle with Colonel James W. Forsyth and the 2nd Battalion of the 7th Cavalry. Regardless of the reason for being at Wounded Knee that day, Kinzie was shot at the onset of hostilities. His injury was such that he was returned to Fort Omaha, Nebraska, for recuperation in the following days. It was upon his arrival there that a reporter from the Omaha Bee caught up with the lieutenant on January 5 and recorded the first personal account of the battle from an Army officer. Continue reading

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