Maor General Henry Clay Merriam, Medal of Honor Recipient

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Maor General Henry Clay Merriam, Medal of Honor Recipient

Birthplace: Houlton, Aroostook County, Maine, United States
Death: November 12, 1912 (74)
Immediate Family:

Son of Lewis Merriam and Mary Ann Merriam
Husband of Lucy Jane Getchell and Una MacPherson- MacNeil
Father of Maime Eugenie Merriam; Carrie Augusta Merriam; Henry MacPherson Merriam, Cpt; Cyrus Lincoln Merriam; Charles Bailey Merriam and 1 other
Brother of Mus. Leonard Brooks Merriam (USA); Augusta Josephine Merriam; Lucy Hatstadt Merriam; Maj. Lewis M. Merriam (USA); Norman James Merriam and 4 others

Managed by: Private User
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About Maor General Henry Clay Merriam, Medal of Honor Recipient

Henry Merriam was awarded the Medal of Honor.

Major General Merriam was born in 1837. Earned the Medal of Honor in 1865; it was granted in 1894. He died in 1912, and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Arlington County, Virginia, USA (Plot: Section 1, Lot 114-B)

Profile last modified 2 Nov 2020 | Created 17 Dec 2018

Henry Clay Merriam (1837 - 1912)

General Henry Clay Merriam=

Born 13 Nov 1837 in Houlton, Aroostook County, Maine, United States

Son of Lewis Merriam and Mary Ann (Foss) Merriam

Brother of Lewis M Merriam

[spouse(s) unknown]

[children unknown]

Died 18 Nov 1912 in Portland, Cumberland, Maine, United States


Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed 03 September 2019), memorial page for MG Henry Clay Merriam (13 Nov 1837–18 Nov 1912), Find A Grave Memorial no. 7878557, citing Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Arlington County, Virginia, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave . "Maine Vital Records, 1670-1921," database with images, FamilySearch ( : 13 March 2018), Henry Clay Merriam, 18 Nov 1912; citing Portland, Cumberland, Maine, United States, Division of Vital Statistics, State Board of Health, Augusta; FHL microfilm. Commander and Builder of Western Forts: The Life and Times of Major General Henry C. Merriam, 1862-1901, by Jack Stokes Ballard (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 2012) [not yet consulted] American national biography by Garraty, John Arthur, [1920-], Carnes, Mark C. (Mark Christopher), [1950-], American Council of Learned Societies (New York: Oxford, 1990), pages 347 - 348. This source is freely available from The Internet Archive (

Henry Clay Merriam (November 13, 1837 – November 12, 1912) was a United States Army general. He received the United States military's highest decoration, the Medal of Honor, for his actions as a Union officer in command of African American troops during the American Civil War. He later served in various Indian Wars throughout the western United States and commanded the 7th Infantry Regiment. After being promoted to brigadier general, he took on a training and supply role during the Philippine–American War.

Early life and Civil War service

Merriam was born in Houlton, Maine, to Lewis and Mary (Foss) Merriam. He attended Colby College in Waterville but left school in 1862 to join the 20th Maine Volunteer Infantry Regiment as a captain. He participated in the Battle of Antietam on September 17 and received a brevet promotion to lieutenant colonel for his actions there. In 1863, he went to Louisiana to help recruit African American troops and was placed in command of the 1st Louisiana Native Guard. He led this regiment at the Siege of Port Hudson on May 27, 1863. Two years later, after the unit had been re-organized as the 73rd Infantry Regiment, United States Colored Troops, he led an attack on Confederate positions at Fort Blakely in Baldwin County, Alabama, on April 9, 1865. For these actions, he was brevetted colonel and, several decades later on June 28, 1894, awarded the Medal of Honor. His official Medal of Honor citation reads:

"Volunteered to attack the enemy's works in advance of orders and, upon permission being given, made a most gallant assault."

Indian Wars period

After being mustered out of the Army on October 24, 1865, Merriam began studying law. Less than a year later, on July 28, 1866, he returned to the military as a major in the 38th Infantry Regiment. He served with this unit during expeditions against Native Americans in Kansas in 1867. While in commanded of Fort McIntosh on the Texas–Mexico border in 1876, he bombarded Mexican forces which had committed "outrages" against Americans and he crossed the border to rescue a kidnapped U.S. commercial agent. After being promoted to lieutenant colonel and assigned to the 2nd Infantry Regiment on June 10, 1876, he was sent to the northwestern U.S. during the Nez Perce War. In Idaho and Washington, he managed Native American tribes and was commended by his superiors for his success in gathering the Indians on reservations and opening land for white settlers.

On July 10, 1885, Merriam was promoted to colonel of the 7th Infantry Regiment and commanded Fort Laramie, Wyoming, for the next four years. After being re-stationed in Fort Logan, Colorado, he led troops along the Cheyenne River in South Dakota during the Sioux uprising which followed the death of Sitting Bull.

Later career

Appointed brigadier general on June 30, 1897, Merriam was transferred to the Department of the Columbia, which covered the northwestern United States. During this time, he organized a rescue mission to save miners in Alaska who had been trapped by mid-winter weather. At the outset of the Spanish–American War, he was named major general of volunteers and placed in command of the entire U.S. Pacific coast, including Hawaii. His duties included equipping, training, and transporting units bound for the ensuing Philippine–American War. In January 1899, he left his western post and took command of the Departments of the Colorado and the Missouri. He retired from the Army in 1901, having reached the mandatory retirement age.

By a special act of Congress on February 5, 1903, he was promoted in retirement to major general. He was the inventor of the "Merriam Pack" which was used by infantry soldiers. He married Una MacPherson at Fort Brown, Texas, in 1874 and had three sons and two daughters. Merriam died one day before his 75th birthday and was buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

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Maor General Henry Clay Merriam, Medal of Honor Recipient's Timeline

November 13, 1837
Houlton, Aroostook County, Maine, United States
March 1868
Fort Bayard, NM
August 2, 1875
Fort Brown, TX
October 12, 1877
Houlton, ME
December 16, 1879
Vancouver, WA
August 27, 1885
Fort Spokane, WA
April 29, 1888
Fort Laramie, WY
November 12, 1912
Age 74