WE CAN, WE WILL !
During the Battle of Las Guasimas, Cuba, June 24, 1898, Major Bell of the 1st Cavalry had gone down with a wound to the leg. Captain C.G. Ayers attempted to carry him from the field, but his shattered leg bone broke through the skin causing so much pain that Ayers had to let him down.
The fire was so intense that in one plot of ground fifty feet square sixteen men were killed or wounded. Still, there was a fellow American soldier badly hurt and in need of assistance, and Private Augustus Walley-of the famed "Buffalo Soldiers", his compassion overcoming self-preservation, ran to help. Between Ayers and Walley, Bell was dragged to safety.
But "conspicuous gallantry under fire" was no new thing to Augustus Walley. During the Indian Campaigns in New Mexico with the 9th Cavalry in 1881, for his actions he won no less than the Congressional Medal of Honor. For his role in saving Major Bell at Las Guasimas in the Spanish American War, Walley was recommended for a second Medal of Honor, but instead was awarded a Certificate of Merit for distinguished service for his "extraordinary exertion in the preservation of human life."
Born March 10, 1856 into slavery in Reisterstown, Maryland. This African American spent his time in slavery until the end of the American Civil War in 1865. From 1865 to November 26, 1878 he worked as a laborer in the Reisterstown area. On November 26, 1878 he enlisted in the U.S. Army and was assigned to the 9th Cavalry Regiment of the famous Buffalo Soldiers as a private with Troop I. He served with this regiment until his discharge on November 25, 1883. When he enlisted in Baltimore, Maryland he was then shipped west. He never imagined that he would return home a hero. After roll call in August 31, 1881, he was present for duty and records show that his troop had been in battle with hostile Indians on August 16, 1881 in the Cuchiullo Negro Mountains. He was discharged at Fort Reno, Arizona on November 25, 1883 on expiration of service with a character rating of "excellent." He re-enlisted November 26, 1883 and served continuously until his retirement in 1907, with 29 years of service.
Application for a Medal of Honor was cited by Lieut. George R. Burnett, 9th Cavalry for his bravery on August 16, 1881 in action against hostile Apaches at the Cuchillo Negro Mountains, New Mexico. Events leading to this application follow:
"During the fight a horse of a Private Burton became unmanageable and carried the Private directly into Indian fire. To avoid this Burton dropped from his saddle injured and inactive. Assumed dead the command was given to fall back and take another position, but Burton called out for help and to be rescued. This soldier without regard for his own safety under heavy enemy fire went to Private Burton's assistance and brought him to safety."
Lt. Burnett cited many numerous minor instances of this soldier's gallantry during the two years under Lt. Burnett's command. He was always found to be reliable, trustworthy and efficient which warranted a recommendation for the medal of honor.
While these acts of bravery were approved and recommended by the Regimental Commander, Colonel Edward Hatch, he also recommended that he also be awarded a certificate of merit for distinguished service, whether in action or otherwise. These honors were to represent his extraordinary exertion in the preservation of human life. The nation's highest award THE MEDAL OF HONOR was awarded to private Augustus Walley on October 1, 1890 with a Certificate of Merit.
1st Sgt. Augustus Walley was sent to Cuba in the Spanish American War with the 10th Cavalry and was awarded another certificate of merit for gallantry under enemy fire (see para. 1 above). He spent two years in the Philippines insurrection in the 10th Cavalry and retired from the "Buffalo Soldiers" in 1907. Sgt. Augustus Walley took up residence in Butte, Montana. He was recalled to active duty on May 1, 1918 and assigned as 1st Sgt. Sanitary Corps at Camp Beaunegard, Louisiana until he retired on March 8, 1919. He lived the rest of his life on Etting Avenue in Baltimore City until his death on April 9, 1938. Sgt. Augustus Walley has a niece: lnez Lee, Great nieces-Betty Stokes, Beulah Johnson, Talaya Johnson and Great nephews - Water Johnson and Michael Johnson, all who reside in Maryland.