b. 01/07/1845 County Antrim, Ireland. d. 01/06/1901 Chicago, Illinois.
DATE OF MOH ACTION: 09/07/1876 Big Horn, Montana.
James Bell was born in County Antrim, Ireland in June 1845 (his gravestone says July 1, 1845). He came to the U.S. in 1866, working initially as a laborer. On July 9, 1870, he enlisted in the U.S. Army and was assigned to Company E Seventh Infantry. He reenlisted five years later.
In March 1876, Company E Seventh Infantry, commanded by Captain Walter Clifford, departed their station at Camp Baker, Montana, to join General John Gibbon in preparation to launching against the Lakota and Northern Cheyenne who had refused to come into the reservations. The company arrived at Fort Ellis near Bozeman where other troops were gathering. In April, the column departed, heading east along the Yellowstone River and finally meeting up with General Alfred Terry’s column in early June. After Lieutenant Colonel George Custer’s column broke off heading up the Rosebud, the Terry-Gibbon column marched up the Yellowstone and then turned up the Rosebud River. They arrived at the tragic scene of the Battle of the Little Bighorn two days after Custer and his men had lost their lives.
On July 9, 1876, General Terry called for volunteers to carry a message to General George Crook about the Custer disaster and to offering to coordinate their columns against the hostile Indians. To accomplish this dangerous mission through hostile country, three privates from Captain Clifford’s company volunteered to carry the message: Bell, William Evans, and Benjamin F. Stewart. It took the soldiers three days to make their way to General Crook’s camp near present-day Sheridan, Wyoming. For their bravery, all three soldiers were awarded the Medal of Honor on December 2, 1876.
Carried dispatches to Gen. Crook at the imminent risk of his life.
BURIAL LOCATION: MOUNT OLIVET CATHOLIC CEMETERY, CHICAGO, ILLINOIS.
BLOCK 34, LOT 137 (S 1/2)
LOCATION OF MEDAL: UNKNOWN.