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Saturday, August 11, 2018

1st Sgt. George Jordan, Medal of Honor recipient 1848-1904, Company K, 9th United States Cavalry Buffalo Soldier

George Jordan was born and enslaved in Williamson County, Tennessee in November of 1848. When he was about 18 years old, on Christmas Day 1866, shortly after he gained his emancipation, he joined the United States Army in Nashville. He enlisted in the 38th Infantry Regiment but by January 1870 he transferred to the 9th Cavalry’s K Troop, where he served for the next twenty-six years. 
George Jordan's enlistment records
The 9th Cavalry was part of the “Buffalo Soldiers” who fought Native Americans in the Indian Wars the western US states. 

Jordan and his comrades in the K Troop were sent initially to West Texas. 
In this portion of his military records you can see that Jordan and some of his comrades from K Troop have been sent "Patrolling and guarding [the] country" at the Rio Grande River, August 1873
For eight years they patrolled from the Rio Grande River and into the Chihuahuan Desert. Jordan was promoted to corporal in 1874 and sergeant in 1879. Later the unit transferred to southern New Mexico, Colorado and southeastern Arizona for 12 more years. 
9th Cavalry - George Jordan is identified in the front row, with his legs crossed

This portion of Jordan's military record shows him present at Fort Garland, Colorado in July, 1879

Corporal in the 9th Cavalry in the snow near Denver, Colorado - this gives an example of what Sgt. Jordan might have worn and the way his horse might have been equipped

Defending Fort Tularosa from Victorio.  On May 14, 1880, Jordan led a group of twenty-five men in successfully defending Fort Tularosa, New Mexico from about 100 Apache warriors led by Victorio. Late in the day of May 13, 1880, Jordan learned that Victorio was planning an attack on a small community near the abandoned post of Fort Tularosa. He rallied his 25 men - who had just completed a grueling day-long march in the Mogollon Mountains - to march all night across mountains to reach the women and children at Tularosa. Under Jordan's direction, the Buffalo Soldiers erected a stockade and guard posts, and sheltered the settlers inside. At dusk Victorio attacked but Jordan and his men managed to hold them off. Victorio then tried to stampede the settler's animals so Jordan sent ten men out to turn them away and they were able to drive off the Apaches without losing a single man or animal. 

According to Frank Schubert's book Black Valor: Buffalo Soldiers and the Medal of Honor, 1870-1898, Jordan said, “The whole action was short but exciting while it lasted and after it was all over the townspeople congratulated us for having repulsed a band of more than 100 [attackers].” Sgt. Jordan’s commander recommended him for the Medal of Honor. However, he would have to wait for his recognition.
This gives an example of what Sgt. Jordan and his comrades would have worn and looked like.

Preventing an Ambush by Nana at Carrizo Canyon.  By next year, the Apache leader Victorio had died and Nana took over leadership of the warriors.  Nana engaged the Buffalo soldiers in seven battles in Carrizo Canyon, New Mexico.  On August 12th, 1881, Capt. Charles Parker with a small group of soldiers were following Nana and his warriors when they were ambushed in the Canyon by 40 or more Apache warriors.  He ordered Jordan to take a small detachment of men, get to higher ground and fire down on the Apaches to allow the soldiers to escape. It was a fierce battle, with both sides suffering casualties. Jordan's small group was attacked for hours but was able to hold their position and allow the troops in the canyon to retreat. In his report of the incident Capt. Parker described Sgt. Jordan's actions this way: he “stubbornly held his ground in an extremely exposed position and gallantly forced back a much superior number of the enemy, preventing them from surrounding the command.” 

9th Cavalry near Wounded Knee, South Dakota - this gives an example of what the K Troop's camp might have looked like

Birds eye view of 9th Cavalry going to camp from drill, Pine Ridge, AG?, South Dakota - This gives an example of what Sgt. Jordan's camps might have looked like

Awarded the Medal of Honor and Certificate of Merit. In 1890 Jordan was awarded a Congressional Medal of Honor for his actions at Tularosa and a Certificate of Merit for his valor at Carrizo Canyon. Sergeant Jordan is the only soldier from Williamson County to have ever been awarded the Medal of Honor and is believed to be the only African American soldier from Tennessee to ever be awarded this honor.

Photo courtesy of Ed Hooper

Retirement and Death.  By the time of his retirement in 1896 at Fort Robinson, Nebraska Jordan had served ten years as first sergeant of a troop renowned for its performance against the Apache and Sioux. Jordan moved with other Buffalo Soldier veterans to nearby Crawford, Nebraska 
where he was a successful landowner. Diagnosed with chronic kidney disease in 1904 Jordan was denied admission to the Fort Robinson hospital because of the color of his skin. He "died for the want of proper attention" in Crawford on October 25 1904. 

Sergeant Jordan was buried with full military honors at Fort Robinson, Nebraska on October 29, 1904. His permanent gravesite is at Fort McPherson National Cemetery in Maxwell, Nebraska. 

Jordan Elementary School Named for George Jordan.  On August 10, 2018 - almost 137 years to the day of his bravery at Carrizo Canyon - Jordan Elementary School in Williamson County opened its doors.  The school was named in honor of George Jordan's incredible life and legacy.  

Medal of Honor to be Displayed at the Smithsonian.  In the fall of 2018, the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture received Jordan's Medal of Honor and plan to display it.

Photo courtesy of Ed Hooper

Photo courtesy of Ed Hooper

Born enslaved in Williamson County, once he gained his freedom, and immediately upon attaining full citizenship, he volunteered to fight for his country by joining the US Army.  His bravery in defending women and children in peril, and his ambushed comrades demonstrates the incredible courage and strength of character he possessed.  Williamson County is proud to call him one of our native sons.

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