Joseph F Knight MOH

b. 23/11/1863 Danville, Illinois. d. 24/05/1940 Lubbock, Texas.

DATE OF MOH ACTION: 01/01/1891 White River, South Dakota.

Joseph F. Knight was born in Illinois in 1864 and grew up in Kansas. In 1883, he “went west” and worked on ranches until he enlisted in the U.S. Army in March 1886. In the handwritten account of his military career, Knight says “I enlisted for the Apache Indian campaign.”

Knight was assigned to Troop F of the 6th Cavalry in New Mexico. After Geronimo was captured in September 1886, effectively ending the Apache Wars, Troop F served in various stations across New Mexico and Colorado.In 1887, Troop F was sent to Rio Arriba, New Mexico, to remove “squatters” from the Jicarilla Apache Reservation.  Knight noted that “the job clearing the reservation was a disagreeable unpleasant one as some of the heads of families had been born and raised right there on the reservation” after the Apache had been relocated to southern New Mexico. “But orders were orders” and Troop F removed the Hispanic occupants so the Apache could return.

His Medal of Honor Citation credits Knight’s actions in saving K Troop more forcefully, reading: “For extraordinary heroism on 1 January 1891, while serving with Troop F, 6th U.S. Cavalry, in action at White River, South Dakota. Sergeant Knight led the advance in a spirited movement to the assistance of Troop K, 6th U.S. Cavalry.”

His was one of seven Medals of Honor awarded that day at White River, South Dakota, awarded according to the standards at that time: “soldiers who distinguish themselves by their gallantry in action, and other soldier-like qualities.”

Knight was discharged as Sergeant, March 21, 1891, at Fort Niobrara, Nebraska, but joined the Kansas Volunteer Infantry. In 1898, he served the Volunteers as first lieutenant, hence the Spanish-American War service noted in his obituary.

He later moved from Kansas to New Mexico, and to Lubbock a few years before his death in 1940, at aged 76. His obituary in the Lubbock newspaper made no notice of his Medal of Honor award, nor did his military issued gravestone.

Knight’s Medal of Honor was not recognized locally until much later. A former FBI agent from San Antonio, Jim Kenney, dedicated his retirement to locating the graves of Medal of Honor recipients. He arranged for Knight’s headstone from the government, which was unveiled on Memorial Day, 1989. In 2013, Sgt. Knight was recognized along with two others on a plaque memorializing all three Medal of Honor recipients in the City of Lubbock Cemetery.



Led the advance in a spirited movement to the assistance of Troop K, 6th U.S. Cavalry.



BLOCK 25, W 1/2, LOT 20, SPACE 2.