Place of Birth: Staffordshire
Date of enlistment: 19 January 1872
Age given at enlistment: 30
Location on 25 June 1876: In hilltop fight
An Exhausted Horse Saved His Life
Farrier John Fitzgerald, Company C, Seventh United States Cavalry Regiment, date ca.1875. (Original photograph most generously donated to 'Men With Custer UK' by Joseph Millazzo, Littleton, Colorado)
- John Fitzgerald, almost certainly of Irish descent, was born in Burslem (since incorporated in the Stoke-on-Trent), Staffordshire, sometime around 1834 – not 1841 as is near universally claimed.
- His first enlistment took place 7 May 1861 when he enrolled in Company H, 1st New York Infantry from which he was discharged on 23 May 1863.
- On 7 July 1863 he enlisted in Battery D, 1st New York Artillery and transferred to Battery L, 6th New York Artillery. Discharged on 24 August 1865.
- He enlisted for the third time on 8 November 1866, in New York City, at a stated age of 32 by Captain Borden, giving his previous occupation a ‘Teamster’. Assigned to Company M, 8th Cavalry and discharged on 8 November 1871 at Fort Garland, Colorado Territory.
- On 19 January 1872, he enlisted for the fourth time in New York City, by Lt John Mahnken, at an assumed age of 30, and assigned to Company C, 7th Cavalry, then stationed at Rutherfordton, North Carolina. He had blue eyes, brown hair, a fair complexion, and was 5′ 4″ tall.
- Fitzgerald was appointed ‘Farrier’ on 12 April 1873. He participated in the Yellowstone Campaign (1873) and the Black Hills Expedition (1874).
- He was with Custer’s column on the first day of the Battle of the Little Big Horn until his mount became exhausted and eventually he joined the force on Reno Hill.
- After bring discharged from Fort Totten, Dakota Territory on 19 January 1877 he enlisted for a fifth time on 26 December 1877, in New York City, by Captain Adam Chaffee and assigned to Company M, 8th Cavalry. giving an age of 35. On expiration of service he was discharged on Christmas Day, 1882 at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. The following day he was re-enlisted in the same company and regiment, now age 40, by Lt Paul Harwood.
- Yet another discharge took place on 25 December 1887 at Fort Concho, Texas, as a farrier of excellent character. The next day he was re-enlisted by Lt Edmund Luff and for the third time found himself in Company (now called Troop) M, 8th Cavalry before being transferred to Troop I of the same regiment.
- Fitzgerald finally retired from the army on 22 November 1890 at Fort Meade, South Dakota, as a private of excellent character.
- He died at 551W 45th Street, New York City on 7 May 1900 at age 70.
Unknown 7th U.S. Cavalry Trooper ca. 1876.