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John May
Born 1836
Died March 19, 1886 (aged 49–50)
Place of birth Wurttemberg, Germany
Place of death La Junta, Colorado, United States
Place of burial Fairview Cemetery
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch United States Army
Years of service c. 1869–1870
Rank Sergeant
Unit 6th U.S. Cavalry
Battles/wars Indian Wars
Texas–Indian Wars
Awards Medal of Honor

John May (1836 – March 19, 1886) was a German-born soldier in the U.S. Army who served with the 6th U.S. Cavalry during the Texas-Indian Wars. He was one of thirteen men who received the Medal of Honor for gallantry against the Kiowa at the Battle of the Little Wichita River on July 12, 1870.[1][2][3][4][5][6][7][8][9][10]


Born in Wurttemberg, Germany in 1836, John May emigrated to the United States where he eventually enlisted in the U.S. Army at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He became a member of the 6th U.S. Cavalry where he eventually reached the rank of sergeant. Serving on frontier duty in Texas, May would eventually become a veteran Indian fighter during Texas-Indian Wars. While stationed at Fort Richardson in the summer of 1870, he was part of a mixed detachment consisting of 3 officers and 56 men under the command of Captain Curwen B. McClellan which pursued a band of Indians who had captured the mail at Rock Station only 16 miles from the fort. After nearly a week on the trail, they were ambushed by 250 Kiowas led by Chief Kicking Bird resulting in what would become known as the Battle of the Little Wichita River. Vastly outnumbered, May and his fellow soldiers took cover and were eventually able to force the Kiowas to retreat. After returning to Fort Richardson, McClellan recommended May and 12 other men for the Medal of Honor which they received on August 25, 1870.[1][3][4][6][7][8][9][10] May died in La Junta, Colorado on March 19, 1886, at age 50. He was interred at Fairview Cemetery.[5]

Medal of Honor citation[]

Rank and organization: Sergeant, Company L, 6th U.S. Cavalry. Place and date: At Wichita River, Tex., 12 July 1870. Entered service at: ------. Birth: Germany. Date of issue: 25 August 1870.


Gallantry in action.[11]

See also[]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Beyer, Walter F. and Oscar Frederick Keydel, ed. Deeds of Valor: From Records in the Archives of the United States Government; how American Heroes Won the Medal of Honor; History of Our Recent Wars and Explorations, from Personal Reminiscences and Records of Officers and Enlisted Men who Were Rewarded by Congress for Most Conspicuous Acts of Bravery on the Battle-field, on the High Seas and in Arctic Explorations. Vol. 2. Detroit: Perrien-Keydel Company, 1906. (pg. 159)
  2. Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs. Medal of Honor recipients, 1863-1978, 96th Cong., 1st sess. Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office, 1979. (pg. 1017)
  3. 3.0 3.1 Hamilton, Allen Lee. Sentinel of the Southern Plains: Fort Richardson and the Northwest Texas Frontier, 1866-1878. Fort Worth: Texas Christian University Press, 1988. (pg. 192) ISBN 0-87565-073-2
  4. 4.0 4.1 O'Neal, Bill. Fighting Men of the Indian Wars: A Biographical Encyclopedia of the Mountain Men, Soldiers, Cowboys, and Pioneers Who Took Up Arms During America's Westward Expansion. Stillwater, Oklahoma: Barbed Wire Press, 1991. (pg. 27) ISBN 0-935269-07-X
  5. 5.0 5.1 Wommack, Linda. From the Grave: A Roadside Guide to Colorado's Pioneer Cemeteries. Caldwell, Idaho: Caxton Press, 1998. (pg. 288) ISBN 0-87004-386-2
  6. 6.0 6.1 Neal, Charles M. Valor Across the Lone Star: The Congressional Medal of Honor in Frontier Texas. Austin: Texas State Historical Association, 2003. (pg. 457) ISBN 0-87611-184-3
  7. 7.0 7.1 Yenne, Bill. Indian Wars: The Campaign for the American West. Yardley, Pennsylvania: Westholme Publishing, 2006. (pg. 159) ISBN 1-59416-016-3
  8. 8.0 8.1 Nunnally, Michael L. American Indian Wars: A Chronology of Confrontations Between Native Peoples and Settlers and the United States Military, 1500s-1901. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland, 2007. (pg. 125) ISBN 0-7864-2936-4
  9. 9.0 9.1 Sterner, C. Douglas (1999). "MOH Citation for John May". MOH Recipients: Indian Campaigns. 
  10. 10.0 10.1 Army Times Publishing Company. "Military Times Hall of Valor: John May". Awards and Citations: Medal of Honor. 
  11. "Medal of Honor recipients". Indian War Campaigns. United States Army Center of Military History. June 8, 2009. Retrieved June 29, 2009. 

External links[]

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