Tuesday, December 27, 2016
Smith fought in a battle against American Indian tribes in the Dakota Territory on Sept. 9, 1876, when he was 29 years old. Then-President Rutherford B. Hayes approved the Medal of Honor for Smith in 1877 for showing "special bravery in endeavoring to dislodge Indians secreted in a ravine," according to Army records.
But the award never made it to the veteran, who was born Harry Reynolds, served as a drummer boy in the Civil War, but used an alias for unknown reasons when he enlisted in Company M, 3d U.S. Cavalry. His grandson said the medal was delivered to Camp Sheridan in Nebraska Territory, where Smith had previously lived, but someone else signed for the package.
Smith returned to using his birth name after his discharge from the Army, then later moved to Elko, Nevada. He died in 1930 without knowing he earned the award.