18

Gannon, Peter

Place of Birth: Manchester

Date of enlistment: 16 July 1872

Age given at enlistment: 28

Rank: Sergeant

Company: B

Location on 25 June 1876: Powder River Depot

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Comments:

Name, date and place of birth not yet verified. For details of his military service consult: (i) ‘Military Register of Custer’s Last Command,’ Roger L. Williams, The Arthur H. Clark Company, Norman, Oklahoma, 2009, p. 204.  (ii) ‘Men With Custer – Biographies of the 7th Cavalry,’ Edited by Ronald H. Nichols with Daniel I. Bird, CBHMA Inc., 2010, p. 133.

Another Mysterious Mancunian

Not yet fully researched.

Peter Gannon claimed he was aged 23 and born in Manchester, England, almost certainly of Irish parents, when he was enlisted by Major Jacob D. Jones, 5th Infantry, at Boston, Massachusetts on 18 June 1867.

The emigrant ship 'Ocean Monarch' caught fire and sank off the Great Orme Head, near Llandudno, North Wales, on 24/25 August 1848, with the loss of 178 lives.

To date no record has been found of his birth but a one year-old  Peter Gannon, born in England, landed at Boston, Massachusetts in September 1847, outbound from Liverpool on the Ocean Monarch, her maiden voyage, accompanied by a Bridget Gannon, aged 27, and a Bridget Gannon aged four (information from Geoff Topliss) Was this the future 7th Cavalryman?

Gannon, who is described as having blue eyes, brown hair, a light complexion, and 5′ 6 3/4″ tall, joined Company B at Fort Dodge, Kansas on 14 September 1867.  He participated in the Washita Campaign (1868), was promoted to corporal on 1 July 1871 and to sergeant exactly two months later. Having completed his first five-year term he was discharged on 18 June 1872 at Spartanburg, South Carolina, where his company had been on Reconstruction duty. Gannon was re-enlisted by Captain Edwin Sumner [a future commanding officer of the 7th Cavalry], in New York City on 16 July 1872 and was reassigned to his old company, which was still stationed in Spartanburg.  Promotion to sergeant followed as early as 1 November. However, on 5 May 1873 he went absence without leave at Yankton, Dakota Territory, only to be apprehended less than four months later at Louisville, Kentucky. Apparently a reward of $30 was paid for his capture. He pleaded not guilty and on unanimous recommendation of the court, and in consideration of his excellent character, the sentence of four full years was remitted and he was released and restored to duty on 9 February 1874.

Somewhat surprisingly he was appointed 1st Sergeant of Company B on 16 April 1874, a position he held until reverting to his previous rank on 17 March 1875.  He participated in the Black Hills Expedition the summer of ’74.

Gannon was on detached service at the Powder River depot at the time of the Battle of Little Big Horn (1876) but took an active part in the Nez Perce Campaign (1877) and was discharged at a “camp near Sentinel Buttes, Montana Territory – a sergeant of good character” on 16 July 1877.  He was at Fort Abraham Lincoln on 12 October 1878 when he was enlisted by [future Brigadier General] 2nd Lt. William John Nicholson, 7th Cavalry, and assigned to Company C, for a third term in his old regiment. Promotion to corporal was made on 2 April 1880 and sergeant on 11 June 1881, only to be reduced to private on 9 March 1882, back to corporal on the 1st of July, and back again to private on 13 June 1883.  Despite his roller-coaster five years Peter Gannon was discharged on 11 October 1883 at Fort Meade – “a private of very good character.”

On 22 December 1883 he enlisted yet again, this time at Fort Leavenworth by 2nd Lt. James E. Macklin, 11th Infantry, and was assigned to Company A, 20th Infantry and appointed sergeant. He was admitted to the post hospital at Fort Assiniboine, Montana Territory in April 1886 and died there of ‘Localised Chronic Peritonitis, stricturing the traverse colon’ on 12 June 1886.  He was buried the post cemetery the following day. His remains were reinterred at the Custer Battlefield National Cemetery (renamed Custer National Cemetery in 1991), Section B, site 1285.

Sources include Men With Custer, p. 134 and Military Register, pp. 133-4.

Sergeant Peter Gannon Record of Death and Interment

Inventory of the Effects of Peter Gannon late of Company 'A' 20th Regt. of Infantry.

Final Statement of Sergeant Peter Gannon signed by Captain John H. Patterson,* 20th Infantry, Commanding Company ‘A,’ at Fort Assiniboine, 13 June 1886.

  • DUE SOLDIER
  • For retained pay under act of May 15, 1872 … $29.23
  • For clothing not drawn in kind … $55.44
  • For deposits with the USA Paymaster September 7, 1875 [$8] & May 15, 1876 [$20] … $28.00
  • Proceeds of sale of effects [January 18, 1883 (sic)] … $45.10
  • DUE UNITED STATES
  • Nil
  • Remarks: Entitled to re-enlisted pay.
  • The above statement does not take into account basic pay due for the period May 1 to June 12, 1886.

Note: John Patterson (1823-1920) was “awarded Medal of Honor 23 July 1897 for most distinguished gallantry at the Wilderness Va 7 May 1864 under heavy fire of advancing enemy in picking up and carrying several hundred yards to a place of safety a wounded officer of his regt who was helpless and would otherwise have been burned in the forest while serving as 1 Lt 11 US Inf; retd 6 February 1899.” (Heitman, p. 775).

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