Jordan, born a slave in rural Tennessee in 1847, enlisted at age 19 in the 38th Infantry based in Nashville. In January 1870, as a corporal, he re-enlisted in the 9th Cavalry.
About 10 years later -- on May 13, 1880 -- while escorting a wagon train through the New Mexico Territory, he was asked by a messenger from an abandoned Army outpost to save women and children in the settlement from imminent attack by the Apache warrior Victorio.
According to Army history accounts, Jordan rallied his men, marched them at night to the outpost -- Fort Tularosa -- and established perimeter defenses and guard posts.
"That evening, Victorio and his warriors attacked the outpost. Although outnumbered by 4-to-1, the Buffalo Soldiers were so well-trained and prepared for battle that there was not a single casualty from either the settlers or the Buffalo Soldiers," one Army history record says.
The Buffalo Soldiers were so nicknamed by the American Indians they encountered. The name reflected bravery and valor despite the inferior supplies they were given.
Jordan's commander immediately recommended him for the Medal of Honor, which he did not officially receive until May 7, 1890, and only after another act of bravery the year following Victorio's attack.
That was at Carrizo Canyon, N.M., while commanding 19 men. According to his medal of honor citation, Jordan "stubbornly held his ground in an extremely exposed position and gallantly forced back a much superior number of the enemy, preventing them from surrounding the command."
After 31 years of what Army historians describe as "selfless service," Jordan, by then a first sergeant, retired in 1897. After his death, he was buried with full military honors at Fort Robinson, Neb.