MG Frank Baldwin
1 of 19 to Receive Two MOH Awards
Receiving the Medal of Honor for valor in combat puts one in the hallowed company of but a few thousand individuals. By the time you earn two Medals of Honor, you are one of 19 persons to have ever done so. Perhaps it is because the Medal of Honor is quite often awarded posthumously, but receiving two and living to talk about it is a rare feat in the world. Frank Baldwin would do just that in the 1800s and live to become a General by World War 1.
His first would come during the American Civil War in an era where men lined up in neat rows and took turns shooting at each other. The second would be on the American frontier as Americas pushed west in increasing conflict with the Native Americans. While each conflict is the subject of intense historical debate, the gallantry of a man on either side when the bullets start to fly is often the least controversial part of it all.
A native of Michigan, he was born in 1842. As fate would have it, he came of age just as America was embarking on a costly Civil War. Over 600,000 would die in this conflict, but Baldwin would not be one despite his conspicuous gallantry in the face of heavy enemy fire. He initially joined the Volunteer Army as a 2nd Lieutenant for the Michigan Horse Guards in 1861 before eventually making his way to the 19th Michigan Volunteers in 1862. By early 1863, he would find himself fighting in Tennessee. In March, he was captured near Brentwood, TN by General Nathan Bedford Forrest’s Confederates.
However, a prisoner exchange in August allowed him to return to the fight with the Union Army through Chattanooga, eventually under the command of Gen William T Sherman during his march to Atlanta. At Peachtree Creek, GA on 12 July 1864 his actions as a Captain with Company D 19th Michigan
Infantry would earn him his first Medal of Honor. When his unit came under an intense attack, Captain Baldwin led a countercharge that found him well ahead of his men. It is reported in the citation that he singly entered the enemy’s lines and when it was all said and done, he brought back two fully armed Confederate officers as well as the guidon of a Georgia regiment as if just to rub it in that the Confederates could not stop him. He was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions at Peachtree Creek.
As the war ended, he returned to Detroit and was discharged as a Captain in June 1865. After the war, he was commissioned in the 19th US Infantry in 1866 and served in a variety of duty stations that took him everywhere from being a quartermaster to recruiting duty over the next eight years. In 1874, he was assigned to join the Indian Territory expedition under the leadership of Gen Nelson A. Miles of the Fifth Infantry. Setting out from Fort Dodge, Kansas, he participated in the campaigns against the warriors of the Cheyenne, Kiowa, Arapahoe, and Comanche, who were resisting American westward expansion.
On 8 November 1874 Baldwin’s unit was called into action when a group of Natives captured two local white women. Rather than wait for reinforcements as one might think given the numerically superior Native force, Baldwin led a charge with just two companies. The attack prevented the natives from escaping and killing the captives. For his actions at McClellan’s Creek, Texas, Baldwin would receive his 2nd Medal of Honor. He would serve in a variety of campaigns against the Indian forces over 15 years including engagements against the famed Chief Sitting Bull. His service would take him from Texas to Yellowstone before eventually being transferred to the Philippines during the Spanish-American War.
By 1906, Baldwin had earned the rank of General before being retired from active service after over 40 years of service. He was called upon by his home state of Colorado to serve as a Major General for the Colorado National Guard during WW1. While he didn’t deploy to Europe, the recall was more of an admiration for his extensive military experience and an earnest need for men of his character to mentor the next generation of warriors. MGen Baldwin died in 1923 in Denver, Colorado. With over half of his life spent toward military service, his contribution to his nation stands tall. But when you consider he picked up two Medals of Honor along, history can’t help but take notice.
[Source: Together We Served September 2019]
Copyright 2019, Scottish–American Military Society
Last Modified: 09/21/2019-2109 hours PST
Please report problems to the webmaster