b. 22/02/1856 Dead River, Maine. d. 23/09/1927 Washington DC.
DATE OF MOH ACTION: 01/04/1880 O’Fallon’s Creek, Montana.
Brett was born near Dead River, Maine on February 22, 1856. On July 1, 1875 he accepted an appointment to the United States military academy at West point and graduated in 1879. He married Emma Wallace (1865–1948) on February 7, 1887 and together on October 13, 1889 they had a daughter, Helen Brett. After graduation he received a commission on June 13, 1879 as a Second Lieutenant, in the 2nd United States Cavalry.
While a member of the 2d U.S. Cavalry during the American Indian Wars, he participated in the pursuit of a group of Sioux Indians who had stolen a herd of ponies. On April 1, 1880 the group was located by scouts making camp with the herd at the head of O’Fallon Creek. In what would later be known as the Battle of O’Fallons Creek he was ordered to take ten soldiers and attempt to capture the complete herd. The soldiers were able to retrieve the herd and cut the Indians off from their horses as well. When the Indian group attempted to get to their horses and escape they were driven away, causing them to separate. In the action one of the Indians was killed and five were captured, while the rest escaped into a nearby group of trees. When Brett and his men tried to approach the trees, the Indians, who had lain down on the ground inside the woods, opened fire on the troops. In the battle one soldier was shot in the head and one horse was hurt and the soldiers’ attack had been repelled. While the soldiers considered their next move, the Indians moved into a more defensible position, although completely surrounded. By this point it was getting dark and the soldiers were cold and tired from the day’s fighting and they determined it unfeasible to attack. At some point the Indian group escaped from their position without a trace and escaped. For his actions during the battle, Brett received the Medal of Honor, which was presented to him February 7, 1895.
He was honorably mustered out of the Volunteers on June 18, 1901 at the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. In 1903 he was assigned to be the Adjutant General of the D.C. Militia and kept that post until 1908. From 1910-1916 he served as acting superintendent of Yellowstone National Park and then in September 1917 he commanded the 160th Infantry Brigade, Camp Lee, Petersburg, Virginia. He was promoted to Brigadier General on August 5, 1917 and served overseas with the 80th Infantry Division from May 1918–June 1919 in World War I. While serving in World War I he received the Army Distinguished Service medal for commanding the 80th Infantry Division and their actions near Imecourt and Buzancy in November when they broke the enemy’s resistance.
Fearless exposure and dashing bravery in cutting off the Indians’ pony herd, thereby greatly crippling the hostiles.
BURIAL LOCATION: ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY, ARLINGTON, VIRGINIA.
SECTION 6, GRAVE 8367
LOCATION OF MEDAL: FAMILY.