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Three Medal of Honor Winners, All Paymasters

135, 10/10/2010

THREE MEDAL OF HONOR WINNERS

In last month’s article, I wrote about Sergeant Benjamin Brown and Corporal Isaiah Mays; Congress awarded both Soldiers the Medal of Honor for the heroism they displayed during the Wham Paymaster Robbery (11 May 1889). In keeping with the Congressional Medal of Honor theme, I have three more Soldiers I think you should know.

GEORGE WILLIAM BAIRD – Born. 13 December 1839; Died. 28 November 1906.

From June to October 1877, Colonel Nelson Miles chased Chief Joseph and the Nez Percé Indians through Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming and Montana as they headed to Canada. On 30 September 1877, Colonel Miles located Chief Joseph’s camp in the Bear’s Paw Mountains in Montana. There, they would fight the final battle of the Nez Percé Indian Campaign. Chief Joseph and the majority of the Nez Percé tribe surrendered on 5 October 1877.

During the campaign, First Lieutenant George Baird assumed the role aide to Colonel Miles. In this final battle, Colonel Miles cited First Lieutenant Baird for "Most distinguished gallantry in action in that fierce engagement. While carrying orders across the battlefield, he persisted in the performance of his duties, even after being shot through the arm and after one ear was severed.” Congress awarded the Medal of Honor to First Lieutenant George William Baird on 27 November 1894.

First Lieutenant Baird transferred to the Pay Department and was promoted to Major on 23 June 1879. Congress selected his as a Deputy Paymaster General and promoted him to Lieutenant Colonel on 12 July 1899. His final promotion to Brigadier General came on 19 February 1903; he retired on 20 February 1903.

 

FRANCIS SAFFORD DODGE – Born. 11 September 1842; Died. 19 February 1908.

A large force of Ute Indians ambushed Major Thomas T. Thornburg and his force of 180 Soldiers and civilians on 29 September 1879. The initial attack killed a dozen, wounded 50 and pinned the remaining force near Milk River, Colorado. beleaguered Soldiers sent four couriers in desperate search for help. 70 miles from the ambush site, one courier met Captain Francis S. Dodge and 40 Soldiers from Company D, 9th Cavalry on routine patrol. Captain Dodge and his Soldiers, with little regard for their own safety, rode 26-hours, fought their way to Thornburg’s aid, and helped fend off the attack for an addition three days. For his selflessness, courage and “most distinguished gallantry”, Congress awarded the Medal of Honor to Captain Francis S. Dodge on 22 March 1898.

Captain Dodge transferred to the Pay Department and was promoted to Major on 13 January 1880. Congress selected him as Paymaster General and promoted him to Brigadier General on 23 January 1904.

 
 

GEORGE EDWARD PICKETT, JR.

George Edward Pickett, Jr. entered the US Army on 28 May 1898; he was appointed Major and Additional Paymaster of Volunteers. During the Spanish American War, the Pay Department sent him to the Philippines.

On 12 March 1901, Paymaster Pickett and 10 mounted Soldiers of Company D, 16th Infantry were in the Province of Nueva Yiscaya, Philippines. Paymaster Pickett was there paying Soldiers in the vicinity. While enroute from Bayambong and Echague with $75,000 in gold and silver coins, bandits attacked. An intense fight ensued. Paymaster Pickett successfully defended his payroll and routed the bandits. During the attack, the bandits killed one Corporal and wounded one Private. Depending on the source of information, more than 300 bandits were involved in this attack. For effectively taking charge of his escort and defending his payroll, Paymaster Pickett was nominated for the Congressional Medal of Honor; but for unknown reasons, his nomination was declined.

On 18 April 1911, having completed his second tour of duty, Paymaster Pickett died aboard the Army Transport Ship Logan during his reassignment to the United States.

As a matter of note, George Edward Pickett, Jr. is the son of the famous Civil War general George Edward Pickett, who led the assault at the Battle of Gettysburg that bears his name, Pickett's Charge.

If you have any questions about this information or if you would like to pass along a little known fact about the Finance Corps, please contact the Museum Curator, Mr. Henry Howe, at (803) 751-3771 (DSN 734-3771) or send an email to henry.howe@conus.army.mil