Thursday, June 03, 2010
Medal of Honor: An Almost-Anonymous Farrier Hero
It's the Medal of Honor of the United States of America. Sometimes called the Congressional Medal of Honor, it is the highest honor for valor in action given to a member of the US military. It was the first official medal created for US military heroes, simply because the egalitarian Americans claimed they didn't want all the pomp and ribbonry of the Europeans. Their democratic values meant that heroes of the Revolutionary War, War of 1812, Mexican-American War and other early conflicts received little individual recognition for their heroics.
You might say: they were all heroes.
But along came the Civil War, and the attitude changed. One of the individuals chosen was a somewhat anonymous horseshoer from Maryland named Samuel Porter who was a long, long way from home when he stood on the banks of the Little Wichita River in west Texas in July 1870 and faced 100 Kiowas led by Kicking Bird near what would today be Archer City and Lake Kickapoo.
Samuel Porter's grave is in Los Angeles National Cemetery in Brentwood, California, where it was photographed for Memorial Day. The plaque reads:
"Samuel Porter, Farrier, Company L, 6th U.S. Cavalry, who distinguished himself at Wichita River, Texas, on 12 July 1870 by gallantry in action. His conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity, and selflessness are in the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit on him, his unit, and the United States Army."
Farrier Porter was born in Montgomery County, Maryland, and that seems to be about all that the US military (or anyone, presumably) knows about him. But, as of today, a lot more people know that there once was a brave farrier named Samuel Porter.
In all, Hoofcare and Lameness research has been able to document seven farriers who have won the Medal of Honor.