Medal of Honor Recipients
BUFFALO SOLDIER MEDAL OF HONOR RECEIPIENTS
The Medal of Honor, the highest military award that can be given to a member of the U.S. military, is presented by the president. It is awarded to an individual who, while serving his country, “distinguished himself conspicuously by gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty.” The Medal of Honor was authorized for the U.S. Army in 1862.
The Medal of Honor was awarded to 417 men who served in the frontier Indian Campaigns between 1865 and 1899. Eighteen were awarded to Black American soldiers:
- Eight were presented to members of the 9th Cavalry
- Four to members of the 10th Cavalry
- Six to members of the 24th Infantry
A good soldier and skilled cavalryman, McBryar was promoted to sergeant and first sergeant. In 1890 McBryar was involved in a 200-mile pursuit of five fugitive Apaches. When the hostile Indians took shelter in a cave, McBryar fired his rifle at rocks along the edge of the cave sending bullet fragments and splintered rock flying at the trapped men who, as a consequence, surrendered. McBryar was awarded the Medal of Honor for “coolness, bravery, and good marksmanship.”
McBryar remained in the army, serving during the Spanish-American War with the 25th Infantry in Cuba, where he commanded a platoon, his company lacking commissioned officers. He was commended for leadership in what was a pivotal battle in the campaign. McBryar received a commission in 1898 and was sent to Fort Thomas, Kentucky, as a lieutenant in the 8th Volunteer Infantry. When his unit was mustered out in 1899, McBryar reenlisted as a private and went to fight in the Philippines, becoming a quartermaster and first lieutenant.
For years McBryar tried to become a regular commissioned officer and was supported by his white commanders who considered him competent and intelligent. However, in 1901 after fourteen years of service, McBryar’s unit was mustered out and he found himself at the bottom of the ladder once again. He rejoined the Buffalo Soldiers as a private in 1905, but due to rheumatism, was discharged a year later, and moved to Greensboro. McBryar tried civilian careers including farmer, military school instructor, and watchman at Arlington Cemetery. During World War I, he again tried to reenter the Army. He died in 1941 and was buried at Arlington.