b. 1832 Somerset, England. d. 16/07/1880 San Francisco, California.
DATE OF MOH ACTION: 29/09/1872 Red River, Texas.
William Foster was born in Somerset, England in 1832. He emigrated to the United States and later enlisted in the U.S. Army in Bakersville, Maryland. Spending much of his military career on the frontier, Foster participated in campaigns against the Southern Plains Indians for over 20 years becoming a veteran Indian fighter and may have had a rudimentary knowledge of Indian dialects. By the early 1870s, he was a sergeant in Company F of the 4th U.S. Cavalry then stationed in Texas.
On September 28, 1872, he was part of Colonel Ranald S. Mackenzie’s expedition over the Staked Plains. Following a one-day march to the North Fork of the Red River, a lodge encampment of around 280 Mow-wi Comanche warriors was discovered. Though vastly outnumbered, MacKenzie ordered an attack hoping to catch the Comanche by surprise. The soldiers approached, however, startled the Indian’s ponies and started a stampede alerting the camp. In the ensuing battle, the cavalry troopers engaged in fierce fighting with the Comanche warriors. As a result of MacKenzie’s victory, the Mow-wi formally surrendered at Fort Sill ending 17 years of warfare. Foster was among those who distinguished themselves in the fight and, with eight other members of his regiment, received the Medal of Honor for “gallantry in action”. The other men awarded the MOH included Blacksmith James Pratt, Farrier David Larkin, Privates Edward Branagan and William Rankin, Corporals Henry McMasters and William O’Neill, Sergeant William Wilson and First Sergeant William McNamara. He received the Medal on 19 November 1872. Foster eventually left the military and settled in San Francisco, California, where he died on July 16, 1880, at the age of 48.
Gallantry in action.
BURIAL LOCATION: SAN FRANCISCO NATIONAL CEMETERY, SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA.
SECTION WS GRAVE 197
LOCATION OF MEDAL: UNKNOWN.