Medal of Honor presented for soldier who fought in Indian wars

A marker to the Battle of Slim Buttes in present-day South Dakota. Photo by Jimmy Emerson

A soldier who fought in the Indian wars in the late 1800s was posthumously presented with the nation's highest military award on Monday.

Robert Smith won the Medal of Honor for his service during the Battle of Slim Buttes in September 1876. But he died in 1930 without knowing about the award, Rep. Mark Amodei (R-Nevada) said.

That's because "Robert Smith" was actually an alias -- the soldier's real name was Harry Reynolds -- and the medal was never delivered to him before he relocated to Nevada. Smith's 82-year-old grandson Jerry Reynolds spent five years unraveling the mystery, the Associated Press reported, before reaching out to the Congressman for help.

"It’s truly been an honor to assist Mr. Reynolds in recovering an important piece of his family’s history," Amodei said in a post on Facebook.

Today, I had the privilege of presenting a replacement Medal of Honor to Mr. Jerry Reynolds from Elko. Jerry is the...

Posted by Congressman Mark Amodei on Monday, December 19, 2016

Congressman Mark Amodei on Facebook: Medal of Honor Ceremony

The Battle of Slim Buttes was part of a campaign to punish the Sioux Nation for defeating the United States at the Battle of Little Bighorn in June 1876. According to Wikipedia, it was the first U.S. victory in the war against the Oceti Sakowin.

The battle occurred near present-day Buffalo, South Dakota, on land that was promised to the Sioux Nation by treaty but which was later taken by the federal government. The Oceti Sakowin were then forced to live on much smaller reservations.

Robert Smith AKA Harry Reynolds was awarded the Medal of Honor for showing “special bravery in endeavoring to dislodge Indians secreted in a ravine,” according to The Military Times. He was one of just two soldiers who won the award for the Battle at Slim Buttes.

Read More on the Story:
140 years late, Nevada veteran lauded with US Medal of Honor (AP 12/20)
Rep. Amodei Issues Replacement Medal of Honor to Late Soldier's Family (KTVN 12/19)
Medal of Honor presented 140 years later (KOLO 12/19)