William "Buffalo Bill" Cody receives Medal of Honor

Cody received a Medal of Honor in 1872 for "gallantry in action" while serving as a civilian scout for the 3rd Cavalry Regiment.

In 1917, the U.S.Congress—after revising the standards for award of the medal—revoked 911 medals previously awarded either to civilians, or for actions that would not warrant a Medal of Honor under the new higher standards. After Dr. Mary Edwards Walker's medal was restored in 1977, other reviews began that led to Cody's medal—along with those given to four other civilian scouts—being re-instated on June 12, 1989.

Congressional Medal of Honor: He achieved this honor on April 26, 1872 for gallantry in action at Platte River, Nebraska.(Battle of Summit Springs) On July 11, 1869, Cody killed Chief Tall Bull and rescued a captured white woman. The skirmish was between the 5th Army and the Cheyenne Dog Soldiers. Tall bull was the leader of the Cheyenne. The Army was outnumbered 450 to 244 on that day. At the time, he was a civilian scout, working for the Army. He was a member of the Pawnee Scouts. This was during the Indian Wars. On February 5th, 1917, 24 days after Cody's' death, the medal was revoked. It was decided that because he was a civilian, he wasn't eligible for the award. However the medal was restored to him by the Army in 1989.

It is spring 1872 on the Nebraska frontier when the most famous scout of the Indian Wars—William F. Cody—is called to duty. A band of Mineconju Sioux raid McPherson Station near the newly completed transcontinental railroad and steal horses at Fort McPherson. Cody, chief civilian scout for the 5th Cavalry, pursues the Indians with Captain Charles Meinhold and 30 troopers. While guiding an advance party, Cody and his men discover a dozen Indians encamped with the stolen horses. The troopers are 50 yards away when Indians spot them, and a fight ensues. Cody kills one warrior, and notices six mounted Indians escaping. He and some of his men pursue them for 12 miles. The chase ends as a partial success: the Indians escape, but Cody and his men recover two of the stolen horses.

Meinhold’s report recommends the Medal of Honor for Cody. “Mr. William Cody’s reputation for bravery and skill as a guide is so well established,” he writes, “that I need not say anything else but that he acted in his usual manner.”

Cody was ever after the favorite scout of the 5th Cavalry. He kept them from ambush, he guided them to victory, and his own fame reflected glory on the regiment. Cody was wounded in action just once, and was considered “good luck."