William Rufus Shafter

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American Civil War

Indian Wars
Spanish-American War

William Rufus Shafter (October 16, 1835 – November 12, 1906) was a Union Army officer during the American Civil War who received America's highest military decoration, the Medal of Honor, for his actions at the Battle of Fair Oaks. Shafter also played a prominent part as a major general in the Spanish-American War. Fort Shafter, Hawaii, is named for him, as well as the city of Shafter, California. He was known informally as "Pecos Bill"[1].


Early life

Shafter was born in Galesburg, Michigan on October 16, 1835. He worked as a teacher and farmer in the years preceding the Civil War.

Civil War & Indian Campaigns

Shafter served as a 1st lieutenant the Union Army's 7th Michigan Volunteer Infantry Regiment at the battles of Ball's Bluff and Fair Oaks. He was wounded at the Battle of Fair Oaks and later received the Medal of Honor for heroism during the battle. He led a charge on the first day of the battle and was wounded towards the close of that day's fighting. In order to stay with his regiment he concealed his wounds, fighting on the second day of the battle. On August 22, 1862 he was mustered out of the volunteer service but returned to the field as major in the 19th Michigan Volunteer Infantry Regiment. He was captured at the Battle of Thompson's Station and spent 3 months in a Confederate prison. In April 1864 after his release he was appointed colonel of the 17th Regiment of U.S. Colored Troops and led the regiment at the Battle of Nashville.

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