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MCLENNON, JOHN (1855–1888). John McLennon, musician and Medal of Honor recipient, was born in 1855 at Fort Belknap, Texas. He entered military service at Fort Ellis, Montana, and was with Company A, Seventh Infantry, United States Army, on August 9, 1877. Company A and five other undermanned infantry companies totaling 200 men were under the command of Col. John Gibbon. They had been pursuing Chief Joseph and his band of Nez Percé Indians up the Bitterroot Valley of Montana. On the night of August 8 Gibbon found Chief Joseph and his village of some 700 men, women, and children, as well as 1,500 ponies, in a meadow on the south side of the Big Hole River. Chief Joseph appears to have been unaware of Gibbon's approach. On the morning of August 9 the soldiers attacked the unsuspecting village. The Indians were initially routed, but regrouped and counterattacked. The troops were engaged during the night of the ninth and all of the next day against the skillful leadership of Chief Joseph. Feeling that he had gained a moral victory, Chief Joseph ordered a withdrawal, leaving more than eighty of his people, thirty of them warriors, dead on the battlefield. Gibbon lost thirty-three officers and soldiers; some forty more were wounded. McLennon was cited for "bravery in action" and issued the Medal of Honor on December 2, 1878. He died on May 14, 1888, at Rock Springs, Wyoming, and is buried in St. Joseph's Catholic Cemetery there.


John Carroll, comp. and ed., The Papers of the Order of Indian Wars (Fort Collins, Colorado: Old Army Press, 1975). Committee on Veterans' Affairs, United States Senate, Medal of Honor Recipients, 1863–1973 (Washington: GPO, 1973). Robert M. Utley, Frontier Regulars: The United States Army and the Indian, 1866–1891 (New York: Macmillan, 1973).

Art Leatherwood


The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Art Leatherwood, "MCLENNON, JOHN," Handbook of Texas Online (, accessed November 29, 2015. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.