BERNARD J.D. IRWIN-FIRST MEDAL OF HONOR ACTION
Apache Pass, Arizona (JFK+50) On February 13, 1861, 156 years ago today, US Army Colonel Bernard J. D. Irwin*, a surgeon serving in the first major U.S.-Apache conflict, volunteered to go to the rescue of 2nd Lt. George N. Bascum who was trapped with 60 men of the US 7th Infantry by Chiricahua Apaches here at Apache Pass**.
Colonel Irwin, with 14 men, traveled 100 miles and successfully broke the siege on February 14th.
Although the Medal of Honor was not created until the following year, the heroic action of Colonel Irwin was recognized with a Medal of Honor on January 21, 1894.
Following is the citation provided along with the Medal of Honor...
IRWIN, BERNARD J.D.
Rank and organization: Assistant Surgeon, US Army.
Place and date: Apache Pass, AZ., 13-14 February 1861.
Entered service at New York. Born 24 June 1830, Ireland.
Date of issue: 24 January 1894.
Citation: Voluntarily took command of troops and attacked and defeated hostile Indians he met on the way. Surgeon Irwin volunteered to go to the rescue of 2d Lt. George N. Bascom, 7th Infantry, who with 60 men was trapped by Chiricahua Apaches under Cochise. Irwin and 14 men, not having horses began the 100-mile march riding mules. After fighting and capturing Indians, recovering stolen horses and cattle, he reached Bascom's column and help(ed) break his siege.
*Bernard John Dowling Irwin (1830-1917) was born in Ireland & immigrated to the US in the 1840s. He attended NYU & graduated from NY Medical College in 1852.
BJDI served in the Civil War setting up one of the 1st field hospitals at Shiloh in 1862. He was Senior Medical Officer at West Point from 1873 to 1878. BJDI retired as a Brigidier General in 1904.
**Apache Pass, first known as Puerto del Dado (Pass of the Die), is located between the Dos Cabezas Mountains & the Chiricahua Mountains in Cochise County, AZ. Its elevation is 5110 feet.
"Above and Beyond the Call, Even Before it was recognized," by A SHMCCALL, February 13, 2013, US ARMY, www.armylive.dodlive.mil/
"First Medal of Honor action, 1861," This Day in History, February 13, www.history.com/