He Was Awarded The Medal Of Honor Without Ever Knowing It

The deeds of an Army veteran from Nevada had earned him the highest medal of bravery in the US and never even knew it. 140 years later, his 82-year-old grandson received the medal on his behalf.

Pvt. Robert Smith was honored by Nevada Representative Mark Amodei in a ceremony in his Reno office. Smith’s grandson, Jerry Reynolds, was present to receive the award.

Smith had fought in a battle with Native American tribes in the Dakota territory on September 9, 1876. He was 29 years old. Rutherford B. Hayes, US president at the time, awarded Smith the Medal of Honor in 1877 for “special bravery in endeavoring to dislodge Indians secreted in a ravine.”

Smith, who was using an alias for some reason which no one knows, was born Harry Reynolds.  He never received the medal.  It was sent to Camp Sheridan in Nebraska Territory where Smith had lived previously, but it was signed for by another individual.

Smith dropped the alias after being discharged from the Army and moved to Elko, Nevada.  He died in 1930 with no knowledge of having been awarded the Medal of Honor.

The Sons of the Union Veterans of the Civil War reached out to Jeffrey Reynolds in 2011 to inform him of the award.  Smith had served in the Civil War as a drummer boy before enlisting in the Army in 1872 using his alias, Army Times reported.

Jerry Reynolds reached out to Amodei’s office for assistance in getting a new medal. Congressional staff worked with the Army’s Command Awards and Decorations Branch to get one.  On October 14th, they made an announcement that they were providing a medal to the family in recognition of the one that Smith never received.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE