b. 1846 Cincinnati, Ohio. d. 18/07/1870 Fort Hays, Kansas.
DATE OF MOH ACTION: 08/07/1869 Republican River, Kansas.
Indian Wars Medal of Honor Recipient. Last name also spelled Kile. As a corporal in Company M, 5th US Cavalry, he was awarded his CMOH for gallantry against hostile Cheyenne on July 8, 1869, near the Republican River in Kansas. His citation reads: “This soldier and 2 others were attacked by 8 Indians, but beat them off and badly wounded 2 of them”. The medal was issued on August 24 of that year. Kile variously gave his birthplace as Chicago or Cincinnati, and sometimes used the alias John Kelley. After the Civil War he entered the Army as a private in Custer’s 7th Cavalry; he later deserted and almost immediately joined the 5th Cavalry instead. His service with the 5th must have been exemplary, for he was exonerated of desertion charges and promoted to corporal in May 1869.
The skirmish for which Kile won the CMOH was one of a series of actions against Chief Tall Bull’s band of the Cheyenne, culminating with the chief’s death at the Battle of Summit Springs three days later. The following year Kile reenlisted and was sent back to the 7th Cavalry, stationed at Fort Hays, Kansas. On the night of July 17, 1870, Corporal Kile and trooper Jeremiah Lonergan started a saloon fight with Hays town marshal Wild Bill Hickok, a former scout for the 7th. Hickok shot both men in self-defense and Kile died of his wounds the next day. What motivated the attack is unknown, but it’s possible that Hickok, whose duties as marshal included tracking down Army deserters, recognized Kile and called him on his past conduct. He was first buried at Fort Hays, and later moved to Fort Leavenworth.
This soldier and two others were attacked by eight Indians, but beat them off and badly wounded two of them.
BURIAL LOCATION: FORT LEAVENWORTH NATIONAL CEMETERY, FORT LEAVENWORTH, KANSAS.
SECTION H, SITE 3341.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: UNKNOWN.