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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.

James Ward
Quincy, MA
Roxbury, MA
Place of burial
AllegianceUnited States
Service/branchUnited States Army
Unit7th Cavalry Regiment
Battles/warsIndian Wars
 • Wounded Knee Massacre
AwardsMedal of Honor


James Henry Ward was born in 1854 in Quincy, MA as the second of seven children in a family of Irish immigrants.[1] He first enlisted at the age of 22, leaving behind a job as a bricklayer. After enlisting in Boston on August 3, 1876, he was assigned to the 5th Cavalry stationed at Fort Laramie. Ward returned to civilian life in 1881 after five years of 'excellent' service before enlisting again in New York City in 1883, this time with the 7th Cavalry. This second enlistment again ended with an 'excellent' service record, and Ward quickly followed it with a final enlistment in Boston in 1888, this time with the 4th Cavalry.[1]

Battle of Wounded Knee and Medal of HonorEdit

Partway through his third enlistment Ward transferred back to the 7th Cavalry, which was deployed on the Pine Ridge Campaign in South Dakota to suppress followers of the Ghost Dance. On December 28, 1890, 7th Cavalry detained several hundred Lakota near Wounded Knee. American soldiers were sent into the Lakota prisoner camp to disarm tribal warriors the next morning. A small scuffle over a rifle quickly escalated to fighting throughout the camp.

Tasked with taking weapons from the Lakota, Ward was knocked to the ground and then stabbed several times with a knife during the first few moments of fighting.[1] Ward's assailant was killed by another soldier, enabling Ward to survive the initial melee and participate in the massacre.[2] The 7th Cavalry killed at least 200 men, women and children in encounters ranging from hand-to-hand melees to artillery fire.

Along with 19 other soldiers present at the massacre, Ward was controversially awarded a Medal of Honor. Ward's official Medal of Honor citation reads:

Continued to fight after being severely wounded.[2]

Later lifeEdit

Ward was discharged from the Army before completing his final five-year enlistment and returned to Boston where he took a job as a steamfitter. Ward married Catherine Harrington in 1894 in Boston and had a son in 1898. Suffering from paralysis, Ward was admitted to the Boston Insane Hospital where he died two years later in 1901. Ward is buried at New Cavalry Cemetery in Mattapan, a neighborhood in southern Boston.[1]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d Russell, Sam. "Sergeant James Henry Ward, B Troop, 7th Cavalry – Extraordinary Heroism". Army at Wounded Knee. Retrieved 22 April 2015.
  2. ^ a b "Civil War Medal of Honor Recipients (M–Z)". Medal of Honor Citations. United States Army Center of Military History. June 26, 2011. Retrieved 22 April 2015.