Clay Beauford MOH

b. 27/09/1846 Stafford, Virginia. d. 01/02/1905 Los Angeles, California.

DATE OF MOH ACTION: Winter of 1872-73 Indian Campaigns.

Clay Beauford MOH

Beauford was born Welford Chapman Bridwell in Stafford, Virginia on September 27, 1846. At age 14, upon the start of the American Civil War, he ran away from home to join the Confederate Army. Beauford initially spent the first year of the war as a drummer boy with General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia, however, he became a regular infantryman within a year. In 1863, he saw action at Battle of Gettysburg and was among the 4,500 men who took part in Pickett’s Charge. He was wounded in at least three other engagements before the end of the war: a gunshot wound to his kneecap, a second to his left hand, and a third which penetrated near the stomach.

In 1869, while living in Nashville, Tennessee, Clay Beauford (now under an alias) enlisted in the U.S. Army. He was assigned to Company B of the 5th U.S. Cavalry and took part in a number of indian campaigns in Kansas, Nebraska, and the Wyoming Territory. Within a year of his enlistment, he received honorable mention from his commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Duncan, for bravery at the Battle of Prairie Dog Creek on September 26, 1869. Beauford remained with the 5th Cavalry throughout his military career and had risen to the rank of first sergeant by the time he was posted to the Arizona Territory three years later. He was praised by Captain Robert H. Montgomery on September 26, 1872, following a battle against the Apache in the Red Rock area. He also served under Lieutenant Colonel George Crook during his “winter campaign” against renegade Apaches, particularly the Western Apache and Yavapai bands in the Tonto Basin, and helped guide Crook’s columns during the expedition. Beauford was one of 22 men, 12 cavalrymen and 10 Apache Scouts, who were cited for “gallant conduct during the campaigns and engagements with Apaches” awarded the Medal of Honor, he and fellow troopers Sergeants James Bailey and James H. Turpin were the only members of the 5th Cavalry to be recipients. Beauford did not receive the award until April 12, 1875, two years after being discharged from service.

When Indian agent John Philip Clum was appointed head of the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation in 1874, Beauford accepted Clum’s offer to become chief of the San Carlos Apache Police. On April 21, 1877, he headed the 102-man Apache police force, accompanied by John Clum, which captured Geronimo at Ojo Caliente and oversaw the subsequent transfer of the Warm Springs (or Mimbres) band to San Carlos, both occurring without violence from either side. He officially retired on September 1, 1877, two weeks after Clum’s resignation, although he may have had occasional contact with the force up until at least 1880. In 1878 he had changed his name back to Wilford Chapman Bridwell, and in 1879 he married Cedonia in Arizona.

In 1895, Beauford moved his family to Los Angeles, California where they raised their young children. His only son Walter died at an early age, however, his daughter Nina became the wife of eminent physician Dr. Arthur F. Maisch in 1903.



Gallant conduct during campaigns and engagements with Apaches.