Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Black History Month - 1st Sergeant Augustus Walley, Medal of Honor

Chapter IX Celebrates Black History Month with this article on Augustus Walley, an African- American soldier, born into slavery but served his country for 29 years in the U.S. Army. Augustus Walley born 10 March 1856 in Maryland as a slave. Emancipated in 1865, he enlisted in the U.S. Army on 26 November 1878 and was assigned to the 9th Cavalry Regiment, known worldwide as the famed Buffalo Soldiers.

Walley served with the 9th Cavalry, fighting hostile Indians, until discharged in 1883. He re-enlisted November 26, 1883 and served continuously until his retirement in 1907, with 29 years of service.

Lieutenant George R. Burnett, one of the white officers in the 9th Cavalry submitted Walley for a Medal of Honor for his bravery in August 1881 for action against hostile Apaches at Cuchillo Negro Mountains, New Mexico. The circumstances of the nomination are as follows:

During the fighting against the hostile Apaches, one of the soldiers horse's bolted heading directly towards the Apaches. The soldier has the presence of mind to bail from his horse. The Buffalo Soldiers thought this soldier, a Private Burton, was dead. Upon the call to fall back to better defensive positions, Private Burton called out for help. With disregard for his own safety, Walley went under heavy fire from the Apaches and bringing Burton back to safety.

Lieutenant Burnett also cited several other incidents of bravery and courage that Walley displayed while serving under Burnett. Private Walley was awarded the Medal of Honor on 1 October 1890.

In 1898, then 1st Sergeant Walley, now a member of the 10th Cavalry - Buffalo Soldiers served in the Spanish American War with action in Cuba. More specifically, the 10th Cavalry was instrumental in taking San Juan Hill with Teddy Roosevelt's Rough Rider (1st U.S. Volunteer Cavalry).

After Cuba, 1st Sgt. Augustus Walley was deployed to the Philippines serving two years fighting in the Philippine Insurrection and earning another recommendation for the Medal of Honor which was denied primarily for the reason he already had one Medal of Honor.

Walley retired in 1907 to Butte, Montana but was re-called to active duty in 1918 during World War I and assigned to Fort Polk, Louisiana until a second retirement in 1919. Walley moved to Baltimore where he lived the rest of his life until his death on 9 April 1938.

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