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Lewis & Clark's Columbia River - "200 Years Later"
"Vancouver Barracks Post Cemetery ... Medal of Honor Recipients"
Includes ... Vancouver Barracks Post Cemetery ... Vancouver Barracks ... Medal of Honor ...
Image, 2016, Vancouver Barracks Post Cemetery, click to enlarge
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Vancouver Barracks Post Cemetery sign, Vancouver, Washington. Image taken May 29, 2016.


Vancouver Barracks Post Cemetery ...
The Vancouver Barracks Post Cemetery was established in 1882 and is located north of the main Barracks compound.
[More]

Medal of Honor ...
The Medal of Honor is the highest award for valor in action against an enemy force which can be bestowed upon an individual serving in the Armed Services of the United States. It is generally presented to its recipient by the President of the United States of America in the name of Congress.

Four Medal of Honor recipients are buried at Vancouver Barracks Post Cemetery.

  • 1875, First Sergeant James Madison Hill,
  • 1896, Major William Wallace McCammon,
  • 1896, First Sergeant Moses Williams,
  • 1899, Private Herman Pfisterer.


Vancouver Barracks Post Cemetery
Medal of Honor Recipients

1875, First Sergeant James Madison Hill ...
Medal of Honor, Awarded for actions during the Indian Campaigns
General Orders: Date of Issue: August 12, 1875
Action Date: March 25, 1873
Service: Army
Rank: First Sergeant
Company: Company A
Division: 5th U.S. Cavalry

"The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pleasure in presenting the Medal of Honor to First Sergeant James Madison Hill, United States Army, for gallantry in action on 25 March 1873, while serving with Company A, 5th U.S. Cavalry, in action at Turret Mountain, Arizona Territory."


Source:    "MilitaryTimes" website, 2016.


First Sergeant James Madison Hill was born in 1845 and served with Company A, 5th U.S. Cavalry during the Arizona Indian Campaign of 1873. His unit engaged the enemy at Turret Mountain, in Arizona on March 25, 1875. His medal citation simply says, “Gallantry in action”. Hill became the Commissary Sergeant at Vancouver Barracks until he retired in 1899. He died in Vancouver on Sept. 17, 1919 and was interred at the Post Cemetery on September 23, 1919.


Source:    Vancouver Barracks Military Association website, 2016.

Image, 2016, Vancouver Barracks Post Cemetery, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
James Madison Hill.
1875 Medal of Honor Recipient First Sergeant James Madison Hill, Memorial Day, Vancouver Barracks Post Cemetery, Vancouver, Washington. Image taken May 30, 2016.
Image, 2018, Vancouver Barracks Post Cemetery, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
James Madison Hill.
1875 Medal of Honor Recipient First Sergeant James Madison Hill, Memorial Day, Vancouver Barracks Post Cemetery, Vancouver, Washington. Image taken May 28, 2018.


1896, Major William Wallace McCammon ...
Medal of Honor, Awarded for actions during the Civil War
General Orders: Date of Issue: July 9, 1896
Action Date: October 3, 1862
Service: Army
Rank: First Lieutenant
Company: Company E
Division: 24th Missouri Infantry

"The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pleasure in presenting the Medal of Honor to First Lieutenant William Wallace McCammon, United States Army, for extraordinary heroism on 3 October 1862, while serving with Company E, 24th Missouri Infantry, in action at Corinth, Mississippi. While on duty as Provost Marshal, First Lieutenant McCammon voluntarily assumed command of his company, then under fire, and so continued in command until the repulse and retreat of the enemy on the following day, the loss to this company during the battle being very great."


Source:    "MilitaryTimes" website, 2016.


First Lieutenant William McCammon was a member of Company E. of the 24th Missouri Infantry during the Civil War. On October 3, 1862, his unit engaged Confederate forces near Corinth, Mississippi, and, “While on duty as provost marshal, voluntary assumed command of his company, then under fire, and so continued in command until the repulse and retreat of the enemy on the following day, the loss to the company during the battle being very great.” McCammon continued in the Army, eventually coming to the Vancouver Barracks. At one point, he was temporary commander of the Vancouver Barracks, but his normal position was commander of Company D, of the 14th Infantry. First Lieutenant McCammon was born in 1838 and served in both the Civil War and the Spanish-American War. He died on March 27, 1903 and was interred at the Post Cemetery on March 29th.


Source:    Vancouver Barracks Military Association website, 2016.

"MAJ. W. W. McCAMMON, A.A.G.

Among the number of army officers whose names were sent in for promotion by the President last week there was one who deserves more than passing notice. Line officers in every regiment in the service were selected for advancement in rank and appointment to staff positions, and the battalion of the Fourteenth Infantry in camp on the Presidio plain haa thus contributed one of its best loved and most efficient members. Captain William W. McCammon of Company D, the second ranking officer of the battalion, reluctantly consented yesterday to speak of his past services, that won for him the thanks of Congress and have now gained for him the appointment of major and assistant adjutant general. He has not received official notice of his appointment yet, consequently he is still serving with his regiment, and yesterday wag officer of the day. Seated in his tent he related incidents of his five years' service during and after the close of the rebellion, and his thirty years' campaign on the plains since then. A resident of St. Louis on the breaking out of the war, Major McCammon was one of the first to offer his Bervices to his country from that State. Many of his classmates and associates believed in the doctrine of States' rights and cast their fortunes with the South, but a letter from his father, in which he said, "Stand by the stars and stripes, boy!" quickly determined young McCammon. For a time he was with the bushwhackers, but soon received the appointment of first lieutenant in the Twenty-second Missouri Infantry, his battalion afterward being transferred to the Twenty-fourth Regiment. Sharing the fortunes of the Western army. Lieutenant McCammon saw plenty of hot service at Island No. 10, New Madrid, and at Corinth.

Meantime he had been appointed captain and provost marshal of the Third Division, Seventeenth Army Corps, and It was for his action at Corinth in voluntarily abandoning his comparatively safe position to take command of a body of troops, which he led into the thickest of the fight, that Congress presented him with a medal of honor "for most distinguished gallantry in action," on October S and 4, 1862. At Oxford, Miss., Memphis, Vicksburg, Raymond, Jackson and Missionary Ridge Captain McCammon was in constant and perilous service, and was made assistant adjutant general in the Fifteenth Army Corps, with the brevet rank of major. In this capacity he served through the Atlanta campaign, the march to the sea, at Savannah and on up to the Potomac, participating in the final battle of the war. After the grand review at Washington Major McCammon was appointed adjutant general of the artillery brigade of the Fifteenth Army Corps, remaining at Washington for some time. He was one of the eye-witnesses of the assassination of President Lincoln and was about the first man to reach the stage in pursuit of Booth. From Washington Major McCammon was transferred to St. Louis, where he assisted in massing troops for the Maximilian campaign. In February 1866, Major Mcoammon was honorably mustered out of the service and remained in St. Louis for a year, during which time he engaged in journalism, being connected with the Republic. But though he thought he had laid aside his sword for all time, it was not to be. In 1867, without .solicitation, Major McCammon was appointed a second lieutenant in the regular service and assigned to the Fourteenth Infantry. His regiment was then on this coast, and he immediately started for San Francisco by way of the Isthmus. From that time to the present he has been in constant service on the frontier and in the Northwest.

No man in the army has been more actively engaged In suppressing hostile Indians than Major McCammon, his campaigns extending through almost even' State and Territory west of the Missouri. Personally no more popular man can be found in the army, and the pleasure of the officers and men of his regiment at his well deserved promotion is tinctured with koen regret that his new duties will sever his connection with the old Fourteenth. Major McCammon is an old and warm friend of General Otis, and he hopes that the general will appoint him to his staff for the Manila campaign. The major came here with the expectation of participating In that expedition, and his one fear Is that unless he goes with General Otis or General Merritt he will not see much active service during the war."


Source:    San Francisco Call, May 18, 1898, courtesy California Digital Newspaper Collection, 2016.


Image, 2016, Vancouver Barracks Post Cemetery, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
William McCammon.
1896 Medal of Honor Recipient Major William Wallace McCammon, Memorial Day, Vancouver Barracks Post Cemetery, Vancouver, Washington. Image taken May 30, 2016.
Image, 2018, Vancouver Barracks Post Cemetery, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
William McCammon.
1896 Medal of Honor Recipient Major William Wallace McCammon, Memorial Day, Vancouver Barracks Post Cemetery, Vancouver, Washington. Image taken May 28, 2018.


1896, First Sergeant Moses Williams ...
Medal of Honor, Awarded for actions during the Indian Campaigns
General Orders: Date of Issue: November 12, 1896
Action Date: August 16, 1881
Service: Army
Rank: First Sergeant
Company: Company I
Division: 9th U.S. Cavalry

"The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pleasure in presenting the Medal of Honor to First Sergeant Moses Williams, United States Army, for extraordinary heroism on 16 August 1881, while serving with Company I, 9th U.S. Cavalry, in action at Cuchillo Negro Mountains, New Mexico. First Sergeant Williams rallied a detachment, skillfully conducted a running fight of three or four hours, and by his coolness, bravery, and unflinching devotion to duty in standing by his commanding officer in an exposed position under a heavy fire from a large party of Indians saved the lives of at least three of his comrades."


Source:    "MilitaryTimes" website, 2016.


First Sergeant Moses Williams was a “Buffalo” soldier, serving in Company I, 9th U.S. Cavalry during the Apache War in 1881, a unit made up primarily of African American troops. On August 16, 1881, while on patrol near the Cuchillo Negro Mountains of New Mexico, the Apache attacked. First Sergeant Williams: “Rallied a detachment, skillfully conducted a running fight of 3 or 4 hours, and by his coolness, bravery, and unflinching devotion to duty in standing by his commanding officer in an exposed position under heavy fire from a large party of Indians saved the lives of at least 3 of his comrades.” Williams remained in the Army, and became the Ordinance Sergeant at Fort Stevens, delivering supplies to various Coastal Artillery Batteries along the Washington and Oregon Coasts. When he retired in 1899, Williams moved to Vancouver, and he passed away three weeks later on August 23, 1899. First Sergeant Williams was interred at the Post Cemetery on August 24th.


Source:    Vancouver Barracks Military Association website, 2016.

"Moses Williams, born on October 10, 1845, in Carrollton, Louisiana, was probably the son of slaves. In 1866, he enlisted in the 9th Cavalry, one of two newly authorized African-American cavalry regiments. These regiments gained fame as the "Buffalo Soldiers" while serving on the Western frontier. Williams, illiterate like so many freedmen, signed his enlistment papers with an "X," but his signature proudly appears on his first reenlistment papers in 1871. While serving as a Buffalo Soldier, despite the arduous duties and long days in the field, Williams learned the reading, writing, and mathematics skills needed to later become an Ordnance Sergeant.

The 9th Cavalry was raised in Louisiana and sent to west Texas in the summer of 1867. Sergeants were appointed from the ranks. Within a year, Williams was promoted to First Sergeant of Company F. In 1871, following his first reenlistment, he was transferred to Company K to serve as First Sergeant. The 9th Cavalry served in west Texas until 1875, scattered out in a string of small posts protecting the mail and stage route between San Antonio and El Paso, Texas. In 1875, the 9th Cavalry transferred to New Mexico, where Williams reenlisted again in 1876 and was reassigned as First Sergeant of Company I.

While in New Mexico, the 9th Cavalry was embroiled in the Victorio War of 1879-1880 and a sequel known as Nana's Raid in 1881. Chief Victorio and his Warm Springs Apaches took to the hills, raiding farms and ranches rather than submitting to life on the reservation. It took a year to run Victorio to ground, but even after his death and the capture of most of his band, an old warrior named Nana escaped and, with about 40 others, continued raiding. A detachment of 22 troopers, including Williams, caught up with Nana on August 16, 1881. A running battle ensued, ending with a determined stand by the Apaches. During the fight, Williams repeatedly led flanking attacks. At one point, he personally rallied the detachment and brought it back into the fight. When the outnumbered cavalry was forced to withdraw, Williams and his lieutenant stood up to draw the enemy's fire enabling the unit to rescue three cut-off troopers. In 1896, he was awarded a Medal of Honor for his conspicuous gallantry that day.

Williams continued to serve in the 9th Cavalry until 1886, when his application for Ordnance Sergeant was approved. Ordnance Sergeants had to have at least eight years of service and a minimum of four years as a noncommissioned officer; they were also required to pass a physical examination as well as an examination by a board of officers. Williams was probably the first African-American Ordnance Sergeant. Williams reported to Fort Buford, North Dakota, where he served as Ordnance Sergeant until the post closed in 1895. When Fort Buford closed, he reported for duty to Fort Stevens, Oregon, at the mouth of the Columbia River. Fort Stevens was ungarrisoned at the time. During this period, the Corps of Engineers was in the process of building the West Battery to mount four of the latest ten-inch seacoast defense guns. As the Fort's caretaker, Williams was responsible for 22 large cannon, a magazine with 1,200 shots and shells, and the new guns, themselves.

Ordnance Sergeant Williams retired in 1898 after 32 years of service. Possibly retiring because of ill health, he died on August 23, 1899, at age 52 and was buried in the Vancouver Barracks Cemetery. The old Buffalo Soldier and Ordnance Sergeant serves as a shining example of service to country, bravery, endurance, self-improvement, and leadership."


Source:    U.S. Army Home of Ordnance website, 2016.


Image, 2016, Vancouver Barracks Post Cemetery, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Moses Williams.
1896 Medal of Honor Recipient First Sergeant Moses Williams, Memorial Day, Vancouver Barracks Post Cemetery, Vancouver, Washington. Image taken May 30, 2016.
Image, 2018, Vancouver Barracks Post Cemetery, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Moses Williams.
1896 Medal of Honor Recipient First Sergeant Moses Williams, Memorial Day, Vancouver Barracks Post Cemetery, Vancouver, Washington. Image taken May 28, 2018.


1899, Private Herman Pfisterer ...
Medal of Honor, Awarded for actions during the Spanish-American War
General Orders: Date of Issue: June 22, 1899
Action Date: July 1 1898
Service: Army
Rank: Musician
Company: Company H
Division: 21st U.S. Infantry

"The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pleasure in presenting the Medal of Honor to Musician Herman Pfisterer, United States Army, for extraordinary heroism on 1 July 1898, while serving with Company H, 21st U.S. Infantry, in action at Santiago, Cuba. Musician Pfisterer gallantly assisted in the rescue of the wounded from in front of the lines and under heavy fire from the enemy."


Source:    "MilitaryTimes" website, 2016.


Private Herman Pfisterer was the bugler for Company H., 21st U.S. Infantry, during the Spanish American War in Cuba, in 1898. On the first of July his unit was heavily engaged in an attack at Santiago, Cuba, and suffered heavy losses. Private Pfisterer “Gallantly assisted in the rescue of the wounded from in front of the lines and under heavy fire from the enemy.” Later Pfisterer served as a bugler with the Company D, 14th U.S. Infantry at Vancouver Barracks. Private Pfisterer died on August 6, 1905 and was interred at the Post Cemetery on August 8th.


Source:    Vancouver Barracks Military Association website, 2016.

Image, 2016, Vancouver Barracks Post Cemetery, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Herman Pfisterer.
1899 Medal of Honor Recipient Private Herman Pfisterer, Memorial Day, Vancouver Barracks Post Cemetery, Vancouver, Washington. Image taken May 30, 2016.
Image, 2018, Vancouver Barracks Post Cemetery, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Herman Pfisterer.
1899 Medal of Honor Recipient Private Herman Pfisterer, Memorial Day, Vancouver Barracks Post Cemetery, Vancouver, Washington. Image taken May 28, 2018.


From the Journals of Lewis and Clark ...

Clark, November 4, 1805 ...
A cloudy cool morning wind from the West we Set out at 1/2 past 8 oClock [from their camp on the north side of Government Island, approximately across from Fisher's Landing], one man Shannon Set out early to walk on the Island [Government Island] to kill Something, he joined us at the lower point with a Buck. This island is 6 miles long and near 3 miles wide thinly timbered     (Tide rose last night 18 inches perpndicular at Camp) near the lower point of this diamond Island [Government Island] is The head of a large Island Seperated from a Small one by a narrow chanel [Lewis and Clark show two large islands on their maps, both in today's Government Island area], and both Situated nearest the Lard Side, those Islands [even today the Government Island reach is a complex of many islands] as also the bottoms are thickly Covered with Pine &c. river wide, Country low on both Sides; [since 1983 the Interstate 205 bridge crosses Government Island connecting Oregon to Washington]     on the Main Lard Shore a Short distance below the last Island we landed at a village of 25 Houses: [near Portland International Airport]; ...     This village contains about 200 men of the Skil-loot nation ...

at 7 miles below this village passed the upper point of a large Island [Hayden Island] nearest the Lard Side, a Small Prarie [Jolie Prairie, today the location of Fort Vancouver and Pearson Airpark. Lewis and Clark camp on this prairie on their return] in which there is a pond [one of the many ponds which use to dot this area] opposit on the Stard. here I landed and walked on Shore, about 3 miles a fine open Prarie for about 1 mile, back of which the countrey rises gradually and wood land comencies Such as white oake, pine of different kinds, wild crabs with the taste and flavour of the common crab and Several Species of undergroth of which I am not acquainted, a few Cottonwood trees & the Ash of this countrey grow Scattered on the river bank, ...     joined Capt. Lewis at a place he had landed with the party for Diner. ...

dureing the time we were at dinner those fellows Stold my pipe Tomahawk which They were Smoking with [Tomahawk pipe, thus giving rise to the name Tomahawk Island] ...    we proceeded on

[The men have passed through the area which, 20 years later, Dr. John McLoughlin would choose for a trading post of the Hudson's Bay Company, later to become Fort Vancouver and eventually the city of Vancouver, Washington.]

met a large & a Small Canoe from below, with 12 men the large Canoe was ornimented with Images carved in wood the figures of <man &> a Bear in front & a man in Stern, Painted & fixed verry netely on the <bow & Stern> of the Canoe, rising to near the hight of a man [Lewis and Clark then named Hayden Island "Image Canoe Island"]     two Indians verry finely Dressed & with hats on was in this canoe passed the lower point of the Island [Hayden Island] which is nine miles in length haveing passed 2 Islands on the Stard Side of this large Island [the location of Vancouver Landing and since 1917 the Interstate 5 Bridge connecting Oregon to Washington State], three Small Islands at its lower point [The downstream end of Hayden Island was at one time composed of small islands. One of these, Pearcy Island, would become today's Kelley Point.]. the Indians make Signs that a village is Situated back of those Islands on the Lard. Side and I believe that a Chanel is Still on the Lrd. Side [it wasn't until Lewis and Clark's return trip they would discover the mouth of the Willamette River] as a Canoe passed in between the Small Islands, and made Signs that way, probably to traffick with Some of the nativs liveing on another Chanel, at 3 miles lower [Sauvie Island is located at this stretch, but it is not until the return that Lewis and Clark recognize it as a separate island], and 12 Leagues below quick Sand river [Sandy River] passed a village of four large houses on The Lard. Side [on Sauvie Island], near which we had a full view of Mt. Helien [Mount St. Helens, Washington] which is perhaps the highest pinical in America from their base it bears N. 25° E about 90 miles- This is the mountain I Saw from the Muscle Shell rapid [Umatilla Rapids, Captain Clark actually saw Mount Adams] on the 19th of October last Covered with Snow, it rises Something in the form of a Sugar lofe- about a mile lower passed a Single house on the Lard. Side, and one on the Stard. Side, passed a village on each Side and Camped near a house on the Stard. Side [Post Office Lake vicinity, today within the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge] we proceeded on untill one hour after dark with a view to get clear of the nativs who was constantly about us, and troublesom, finding that we could not get Shut of those people for one night, we landed and Encamped on the Stard. Side ...

This evening we Saw vines much resembling the raspberry which is verry thick in the bottoms. A range of high hills at about 5 miles on the Lard Side [Portland's West Hills'] which runs S. E. & N W. Covered with tall timber the bottoms below in this range of hills and the river is rich and leavel, Saw White geese with a part of their wings black. The river here is 1½ miles wide, and current jentle. opposite to our camp on a Small Sandy Island [one of the small sandy islands prevelent in this stretch of the Columbia. Today the Willow Bar Islands on the east side of Sauvie Island lie across from Post Office Lake.] the brant & geese make Such a noise that it will be impossible for me to Sleap. we made 29 miles to day





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*River Miles [RM] are approximate, in statute miles, and were determined from USGS topo maps, obtained from NOAA nautical charts, or obtained from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers website, 2003

Sources:
  • Vancouver Barracks Military Association website, 2016;


All Lewis and Clark quotations from Gary Moulton editions of the Lewis and Clark Journals, University of Nebraska Press, all attempts have been made to type the quotations exactly as in the Moulton editions, however typing errors introduced by this web author cannot be ruled out; location interpretation from variety of sources, including this website author.
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May 2016