Sgt.Thomas Boyne

Sgt.Thomas Boyne


Of the three blacks qualifying for the Medal of Honor in 1879 from the state of Maryland, a native of Prince Georges County Thomas Boyne, was the first.



The President of the United States
in the name of
The Congress
takes pleasure in presenting the

Medal of Honor



A Sergeant of Company C, 9th Cavalry, Boyne was one of the few men to earn the award for action in two encounters. They were both with a band of Mescalero and Chiricahua Apaches led by Chief Victorio. The medal was presented to him for "bravery in action" at the Mimbres Mountains, New Mexico on May 29th, 1879 and at the Cuchillo Negro River near Ojo Caliente, New Mexico on September 27 of the same year.

When Victorio and his followers fled from their New Mexican reservation and headed for old Mexico, 9th cavalrymen commanded by Captain Charles D. Beyer were sent from Fort Bayard to intercept the runaways. They consisted of Captain Beyer with second Lieutenant Henry H. Wright, 31 enlisted men of Company C, 15 enlisted men of Company I, and two Navaho scouts. On the third day out, the command struck a two-day old trail which was headed towards the Mimbres Mountains. Early in the morning on the 20th of May, the troops descended into a canyon and were deployed in a skirmish line to continue the search. They finally sighted the Indians atop a peak, busily erecting a breastwork. While engaged in this activity, one of the Indians raised a white flag and in Apache asked too talk with the officer commanding the troops. Captain Beyer proposed that Victorio meet him halfway but, the suggestion was rejected.

Then according to Beyer the Indians made a "harangue" and all that could be gathered from this was that his people wanted to be left alone. Growing suspicious Capt. Beyer directed his skirmishers under Lt. Wright to move halfway up the peak within 200 yards of the breastwork. After instructing the skirmishers on the right to move slightly forward and to the right in order to flank the Indians, Beyer gave the order to advance. The soldiers opened fire; the Indians responded. Thomas Boyne, among others was specifically mentioned by Captain Beyer "for gallantry and bravery displayed." Lieutenant Wright took "pleasure in certifying as a eyewitness to the gallant conduct of Sergeant Boyne." Wright also wrote that "I was engaged in bringing in a wounded man with a few men and was surpised by the Indians, my horse was killed and corralled by hostiles when Sergeant Thomas Boyne commanded a detachment sent to my assistance, flanked and gallantly charged the Indians driving them off." Lieutenant Wright recommended Boyne for the Medal Of Honor and his recommendation was heartily endorsed by Major Albert P. Morrow, who stated, "I have seen him repeatedly in action and in every instance he distinguished himself." Morrow also wrote, "I cannot speak too highly of his conduct" and expressed the belief that "if any soldier ever deserved a .....Medal of Honor Sergeant Boyne does and I hope he may be so rewarded."

Thomas Boyne's western experience began early -- earlier than that of any other black Medal of Honor winner in the West. A member of a light artillery regiment activated during the Civil War, he served in Texas for several months and after that confict, was discharged in Brownsville early in 1866. Less than a year later he joined the Regular Army, serving for many years in the 25th Infantry before transferring to the 9th Cavalry. After almost 25 years of service the native of Prince Georges County, Maryland, was discharged in 1889 because of a disability. He was admitted to the U.S. Soldiers Home in Washington, D.C. in 1890, where he remained until his death in 1896.


BURIED: US Soldiers' and Airmen's Home National Cemetery
District of Columbia
District Of Columbia, USA
Plot: Section J-5859

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