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Will Croft Barnes (June 21, 1858 – December 17, 1936), a private in the U.S. Army Signal Corps, was distinguished for his action in the battle at Fort Apache, Arizona Territory on September 11, 1881. When Fort Apache was besieged by warriors of Geronimo, Barnes escaped and rode to Fort Thomas. Soldiers from Fort Thomas came to the aid of Fort Apache. For his gallantry, Barnes received the Medal of Honor on November 8, 1882, the citation noting his "bravery in action."

Will Croft Barnes
Born(1858-06-21)June 21, 1858
San Francisco, California
DiedDecember 17, 1936(1936-12-17) (aged 78)
Phoenix, Arizona
Place of burial
AllegianceUnited States United States of America
Service/branchUnited States Army
Years of service1879 - 1883
UnitSignal Corps
Battles/warsIndian Wars
AwardsMedal of Honor
Other workauthor, legislator



He was born on June 21, 1858 and was the author of Arizona Place Names and associate editor of Arizona Historical Review, both published by the University of Arizona Press. He joined the Army from Washington, D.C. in July 1879, and was discharged with the rank of Sergeant in July 1883.[1]

After leaving military service, Barnes worked as a rancher in Arizona, and served in the legislatures of Arizona Territory. He also wrote several books.

Beginning in 1907 he served for twenty-one years in the United States Forest Service. In this capacity he and a companion traveled across southern Texas to round up the last of the Longhorn cattle, thus saving the breed from extinction. The Longhorns were shipped to the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge in Oklahoma.

He was born in San Francisco, California, and entered the service at Washington, D.C.. He died in Phoenix, Arizona, and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.


The U.S. Army Reserve Center in Phoenix, Arizona and the Fort Huachuca Field House are named in his honor. Two memorial plaques were dedicated to him in Papago Park designating Barnes Butte.

See alsoEdit


  • Thrapp, Dan L. (1991). Encyclopedia of Frontier Biography. Lincoln, Nebraska: University of Nebraska Press. p. 64. ISBN 0-8032-9418-2.

Further readingEdit

  • Apaches & Longhorns: The Reminiscences of Will C. Barnes, Will Croft Barnes, Frank Cummins Lockwood, University of Arizona Press, 1982.
  • Arizona Place Names, William Croft Barnes, Byrd H Granger, University of Arizona Press, 1987.
  • "The Cowboy and His Songs", Will Croft Barnes, Saturday Evening Post, June 27, 1925.
  • Tales from the X-bar Horse Camp: The Blue-roan "outlaw" and Other Stories, Will Croft Barnes, Breeders' Gazette, 1920.
  • Western Grazing Grounds and Forest Ranges: A History of the Live-stock Industry as Conducted on the Open Ranges of the Arid West, Will Croft Barnes, The Breeder's gazette, 1913.
  • "Will Barnes and 'The Cowboy's Sweet By and By'," John Irwin White, in Git Along, Little Dogies: Songs and Songmakers of the American West, University of Illinois Press, 1975.

External linksEdit