|Born|| April 4, 1859|
Ireland, County Meath
|Died||January 10, 1940|
|Place of burial||East Orange, New Jersey|
|Allegiance||United States of America|
|Service/||United States Army|
|Unit||E Co. 7th U.S. Cavalry|
|Awards||Medal of Honor|
Thomas Sullivan (April 4, 1859 – January 10, 1940) was a United States Army soldier and a recipient of America's highest military decoration—the Medal of Honor—for his actions in the Battle of Wounded Knee, but now called the Wounded Knee Massacre.
The United States Army (USA) is the land warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces. It is one of the seven uniformed services of the United States, and is designated as the Army of the United States in the United States Constitution. As the oldest and most senior branch of the U.S. military in order of precedence, the modern U.S. Army has its roots in the Continental Army, which was formed to fight the American Revolutionary War (1775–1783)—before the United States of America was established as a country. After the Revolutionary War, the Congress of the Confederation created the United States Army on 3 June 1784 to replace the disbanded Continental Army. The United States Army considers itself descended from the Continental Army, and dates its institutional inception from the origin of that armed force in 1775.
The Medal of Honor is the United States of America's highest and most prestigious personal military decoration that may be awarded to recognize U.S. military service members who have distinguished themselves by acts of valor. The medal is normally awarded by the President of the United States in the name of the U.S. Congress. Because the medal is presented "in the name of Congress", it is often referred to informally as the "Congressional Medal of Honor". However, the official name of the current award is "Medal of Honor." Within the United States Code the medal is referred to as the "Medal of Honor", and less frequently as "Congressional Medal of Honor". U.S. awards, including the Medal of Honor, do not have post-nominal titles, and while there is no official abbreviation, the most common abbreviations are "MOH" and "MH".
The Wounded Knee Massacre occurred on December 29, 1890, near Wounded Knee Creek on the Lakota Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in the U.S. state of South Dakota.
Thomas Sullivan was born in County Meath, Ireland, most likely to either Patrick Sullivan and Bridget Conolly or Rich Sullivan and Mary McCann, based on available baptism records.At age 28 he immigrated to the US and enlisted in the US Army at 28 years and five months age. His listed occupation on his enlistment documentation was a "laborer".
County Meath is a county in Ireland. It is in the province of Leinster and is part of the Mid-East Region. It is named after the historic Kingdom of Meath. Meath County Council is the local authority for the county. At the 2016 census, the population of the county was 195,044. The county town of Meath is Navan. Other towns in the county include Trim, Kells, Laytown, Ashbourne, Dunboyne, and Slane.
Sullivan was immediately assigned to Troop E 7th Cavalry and served four total enlistments with the unit. Afterward, for his fifth enlistment, he transferred to Troop H 2D Cavalry. There he served as quartermaster sergeant. Sullivan would go on to serve in both Cuba and the Philippines as part of the Spanish–American War before retiring from Ft. Bliss as a First Sergeant with 23 years total in the Army.
The Spanish–American War was fought between the United States and Spain in 1898. Hostilities began in the aftermath of the internal explosion of USS Maine in Havana harbor in Cuba, leading to U.S. intervention in the Cuban War of Independence. U.S. acquisition of Spain's Pacific possessions led to its involvement in the Philippine Revolution and ultimately in the Philippine–American War.
Following his retirement Sullivan returned to New Jersey, married a woman named Ellen, another naturalized Irish immigrant, and worked intermittently as a watchman, guard, and policeman. He died in 1940 and was buried in the Holy Sepulchre Cemetery along with his wife who had died six years earlier.
The Battle of Wounded Knee (also Massacre of Wounded Knee) took place in December 1890. The 7th Cavalry Detachment had been escorting approximately 350 Lakota to the Pine Ridge Reservation when on December 29, the decision was made to disarm the tribe members. A scuffle ensued which quickly evolved into all-out hostilities, with the 7th Cavalry enjoying a significant tactical advantage, having superior numbers of fighting men as well as superior arms, including four Hotchkiss 1.65 inch M-1875 Mountain Guns.
This same day, E Troop 7th Cavalry began taking direct fire from Lakota who had concealed themselves in a ravine. After suffering three casualties, two of whom were killed, the call was put out for volunteers to maneuver from the current pinned-down position and attempt to gain a better vantage point. Sullivan volunteered to move left of the main body to an exposed position in an attempt to eliminate the threat. He and his fellow soldiers, Private Kellner and Sergeant Tritle, drew the enemy fire to their own position, providing relief for the main body.
|1st Row||Medal of Honor||Indian Campaign Medal||Philippine Campaign Medal|
|2nd Row||Spanish War Service Medal||Army of Cuban Occupation Medal||Mexican Border Service Medal|
The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pleasure in presenting the Medal of Honor to Private Thomas Sullivan, United States Army, for conspicuous bravery in action against Indians concealed in a ravine on 29 December 1890, while serving with Company E, 7th U.S. Cavalry, in action at Wounded Knee Creek, South Dakota.
The reverse side of the medal is engraved with the following: "The Congress to Private Thomas Sullivan, Troop E, 7th Cavalry, for bravery at Wounded Knee Creek, S.D., December 29, 1890.”
There have been several attempts by various parties to rescind the Medals of Honor awarded in connection with the Battle of Wounded Knee.Proponents claim that the engagement was in-fact a massacre and not a battle, due to the high number of killed and wounded Lakota women and children and the very one-sided casualty counts. Estimates of the Lakota losses indicate 150–300 killed, of which up to 200 were women and children. Additionally, as many as 51 were wounded. In contrast, the 7th Cavalry suffered 25 killed and 39 wounded, many being the result of friendly fire.
Calvin Spotted Elk, direct descendent of Chief Spotted Elk killed at Wounded Knee, launched a petition to rescind medals from the soldiers who participated in the battle.
The Army has also been criticized more generally for the seemingly disproportionate number of Medals of Honor awarded in connection with the battle.For comparison, 20 Medals were awarded at Wounded Knee, 21 at the Battle of Cedar Creek, and 20 at the Battle of Antietam. Respectively, Cedar Creek and Antietum involved 52,712 and 113,000 troops, suffering 8,674 and 22,717 casualties. Wounded Knee, however, involved 610 combatants and resulted in as many as 705 casualties (including non-combatants).
A revocation would not be unprecedented as there have been 911 Medals of Honor revoked to date.
The Richmond–Petersburg Campaign was a series of battles around Petersburg, Virginia, fought from June 9, 1864, to March 25, 1865, during the American Civil War. Although it is more popularly known as the Siege of Petersburg, it was not a classic military siege, in which a city is usually surrounded and all supply lines are cut off, nor was it strictly limited to actions against Petersburg. The campaign consisted of nine months of trench warfare in which Union forces commanded by Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant assaulted Petersburg unsuccessfully and then constructed trench lines that eventually extended over 30 miles (48 km) from the eastern outskirts of Richmond, Virginia, to around the eastern and southern outskirts of Petersburg. Petersburg was crucial to the supply of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee's army and the Confederate capital of Richmond. Numerous raids were conducted and battles fought in attempts to cut off the Richmond and Petersburg Railroad. Many of these battles caused the lengthening of the trench lines.
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Thomas Ward Custer was a United States Army officer and two-time recipient of the Medal of Honor for bravery during the American Civil War. A younger brother of George Armstrong Custer, he served as his aide at the Battle of Little Bighorn against the Lakota and Cheyenne in the Montana Territory. Together with the younger Boston Custer, the three brothers were killed in that overwhelming defeat of United States forces.
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The Ghost Dance War was an armed conflict in the United States between the Lakota Sioux and the United States government from 1890 until 1891. It involved the Wounded Knee Massacre wherein the 7th Cavalry massacred around 300 unarmed Lakota Sioux, primarily women, children, and elders, at Wounded Knee on December 29, 1890. The Ghost Dance War ended when Sioux leader Kicking Bear surrendered on January 15, 1891.
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First Sergeant Jacob Trautman was a German-born soldier in the U.S. Army. His service included an enlistment with a Pennsylvania cavalry regiment during the Civil War and with the 7th Cavalry Regiment during the Indian Wars. He was one of twenty men who received the Medal of Honor for his actions at the Battle of Wounded Knee, now called the Wounded Knee Massacre, and afterward.
Plenty Horses (Tasunka) (1869–1933) was a Sicangu (Brulé) Lakota from the Rosebud Indian Reservation. On January 7, 1891, eight days after the Wounded Knee Massacre, he shot and killed Army Lieutenant Edward W. Casey, commandant of the Cheyenne Scouts two miles north of the Stronghold Table in the Badlands of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. Plenty Horses – who was present at the Drexel Mission Fight the day after the Wounded Knee Massacre, was arrested for the murder and his case went to trial. His defense was he shot and killed Casey as an effort to redeem himself in the eyes of his people after having spent five years at the Carlisle Indian School learning the ways of the white man. He returned in time to be present on the reservation during the massacre.
Five years I attended Carlisle and was educated in the ways of the white man. When I returned to my people, I was an outcast among them. I was no longer an Indian. I was not a white man. I was lonely. I shot the lieutenant so I might make a place for myself among my people. I am now one of them. I shall be hung, and the Indians will bury me as a warrior.
James Ward (1854–1901) was a United States Army soldier in the American Indian Wars and a recipient of the U.S. military's highest decoration, the Medal of Honor, for his actions at the Wounded Knee Massacre.