This Saturday, March 25, the Fort Clark Historical Society and the Seminole Indian Scout Cemetery Association will observe National Medal of Honor Day. This is the first year that we will be marking this very sacred day. I must admit that I am very excited about this coming Saturday.
What is National Medal of Honor Day? National Medal of Honor Day is a day dedicated to all Medal of Honor recipients. According to www.nationalcalendarday.com, “It was on March 25, 1863, when the first Medals of Honor were presented. Secretary of War Edwin Stanton presented Medals of Honor (Army) to six members of ‘Andrews Raiders’ for their volunteering and participation during an American Civil War raid in April of 1862. In 1990, the United States Congress designated March 25th of each year as National Medal of Honor Day. Since its creation, there have been 3,468 Medals of Honor awarded to the country’s soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and coast guardsmen.” Use #MedalOfHonorDay to post on social media.
There are four medal of honor recipients buried at the Seminole Indian Scout Cemetery. Outside of the Arlington National Cemetery, the Seminole Indian Scout Cemetery has the most medal of honor recipients laid to rest. The four gentlemen are Pompey Factor, Adam Payne, Issac Payne, and John Ward.
In 1873, Colonel Ranald S. Mackenzie decided to go on a mission. This would be a punitive expedition. He wanted to cross the border and fight the Lipan Apaches. He decided that the Seminole Negro Indian Scouts would lead the way. On September 19, 1874, three Seminole Negro Indian Scouts and two Tonkawa Scouts went out, searching for the enemy. Very soon, they were ambushed by about forty Kiowas. The only thing that they could do was fight. Although the exact details about what happened during this skirmish are not clear, at the end of it, Adam Payne was awarded the Medal of Honor. He had risked his life to save his fellow scouts. According to Wikipedia, Payne was decorated for his habitual courage though there is no evidence that he received his medal.
Pompey Factor, Isaac Payne, and John Ward received their medals following an attack on April 5, 1875. The three men were with Lieutenant Bullis. They were scouting Comanches who had built a camp on the lower Pecos Rives. Upon discovery of the Comanches’ habitat, a battle ensued. According to Wikipedia, the scouts dismounted and positioned themselves behind some rocks so that they would appear to be a larger force. According to Bullis’ report, “we twice took their horses from and killed three Indians and wounded a fourth,” but the hostiles, about thirty of them, eventually discovered the size of the scouting party and attempted to surround them in order to cut the scouts off from their horses. The scouts were able to maneuver away from them and get to their horses. As they were on their way back to safety, they realized that Lieutenant Bullis had been left behind. Under heavy fire, the scouts returned to the battle and rescued their commander. The three men received their medals on April 25, 1875 (Source: Wikipedia).
Adam Payne passed away on January 1, 1877. Isaac Payne passed away in 1904. John Ward passed away on March 24, 1911. Pompey Factor passed away March 29, 1928. All four of these remarkable men, these Medal of Honor recipients, are buried at the Seminole Indian Scout Cemetery.
Note: This blog appeared as an article in the 3/23/17 edition of the Kinney County Post.