William Giles Harding Carter MOH

b. 19/11/1851 Nashville, Tennessee. d. 24/05/1925 Washington DC.

DATE OF MOH ACTION: 30/08/1881 Cibicu Creek, Arizona.

William G H Carter MOH

Born in Nashville, Tennessee, he received both public and private schooling as a child and later attended the Kentucky Military Institute in Frankfort, Kentucky later acting as a mounted messenger during the American Civil War. Accepted into West Point, Carter graduated with a commission as a Second Lieutenant on June 13, 1873. He was assigned to the 8th U.S. Infantry at Fort D.A. Russell, Wyoming and was later on escort duty at Fort Fetterman and Fort Laramie. In February 1874, he participated in expeditions against the Cheyenne, Brulé and Oglala Sioux.

During the summer, he followed his company passing through California to the Arizona Territory and stationed at Fort McDowell. While there, he transferred to the 6th U.S. Cavalry on November 28 and later reassigned to the 5th U.S. Cavalry at Fort Verde where he remained until May 1875. Carter served in various posts throughout the territory as an army scout and was occasionally involved in a number of minor skirmishes with local tribes. From April to July 1876, he was involved in the removal of the Chiricahua Apache from their reservation in southeastern Arizona to the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation. He also oversaw the construction of the first telegraph line from Fort Grant to Fort Apache later that year.

After a year of scouting in the Arizona and New Mexico territories as well as the Mexican state of Sonora during early 1878, Carter won promotion to first lieutenant on April 14, 1879 and took part in the final stages of the campaign against Victorio from June to October 1880. The following summer, he took part in the Comanche Campaign as an adjutant general to Colonel Eugene Asa Carr and was awarded the Medal of Honor “for distinguished bravery in action against the Apache Indians” when he and two others rescued wounded soldiers under heavy fire during the Battle of Cibecue Creek on August 30, 1881. He would receive the Medal on 17 October 1891. 

During the next several years, he would rise to high position being promoted to captain on November 20, 1889; major on January 29, 1897; lieutenant colonel on May 8, 1898; colonel on April 15, 1902; brigadier general on July 15, 1902 and finally to major general in 1909. In the years prior to the First World War, Carter was extensively involved in the technical details of organization of the US Army. He organized and commanded the Maneuver Division in early 1911, the first modern self-sustaining division composed of tactical and support components. In 1913, he commanded the one of the four divisions of the “Stimson Plan,” the 2nd Division (Central Department). Carter became commanding general of the Hawaiian Department before his retirement on November 19, 1915.

Following the United States entry into the war, he was recalled to duty and appointed commander of the Central Department of Chicago from August 1917 to February 1918 and was later awarded the Distinguished Service Medal. Suffering from serious respiratory problems in his later years, likely related to heart disease, he died at his home in Washington, D.C. on May 24, 1925 and was buried in Arlington National Cemetery.



The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pleasure in presenting the Medal of Honor to First Lieutenant (Cavalry) William Harding Carter, United States Army, for extraordinary heroism on 30 August 1881, while serving with 6th U.S. Cavalry, in action at Cibicu Creek, Arizona Territory. First Lieutenant Carter rescued, with the voluntary assistance of two soldiers, the wounded from under a heavy fire.