b. 06/11/1876 Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. d. 22/11/1958 New York.
DATE OF MOH ACTION: 04-06/10/1918 France.
Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1876, McMurtry was described as a big, burly, Scotch-Irish American with a ruddy face who seemed to always be of good cheer. He attended law school at Harvard graduate prior to the Spanish–American War.
At the start of the Spanish–American War, at the age of 22, McMurtry left Harvard to serve as a member of Theodore Roosevelt's 1st US Volunteer Cavalry, known as the Rough Riders. He was a member of Troop D commanded by Captain Robert B. Huston. D Troop was part of the cavalry squadron commanded by Alexander Brodie. As part of D Troop, McMurtry participated in the Battle of Las Guasimas on Friday 24 June 1898 and in the Battle of San Juan Hill on 1 July 1898.
When the Rough Riders were disbanded, McMurtry returned to Harvard College, graduating in 1899. Like Lt. Colonel Charles Whittlesey, the leader of the Lost Battalion, he was also a Wall Street lawyer. He would later make millions of dollars in the stock market after the war. He did not forget an Army career however; he obtained a commission when the Army established its first Officer Candidate Schools in May 1917. By the time World War I started, he was one of the most experienced officers of the newly formed 308th Infantry Regiment.
As a Captain in WW I he commanded a battalion (the lost battalion), which was cut off and surrounded by the enemy and although wounded in the knee by shrapnel on 4 October and suffering great pain, he continued throughout the entire period to encourage his officers and men with a resistless optimism that contributed largely toward preventing panic and disorder among the troops, who were without food, cut off from communication with our lines. On 4 October during a heavy barrage, he personally directed and supervised the moving of the wounded to shelter before himself seeking shelter. On 6 October he was again wounded in the shoulder by a German grenade, but continued personally to organize and direct the defense against the German attack on the position until the attack was defeated. He continued to direct and command his troops, refusing relief, and personally led his men out of the position after assistance arrived before permitting himself to be taken to the hospital on 8 October. During this period the successful defense of the position was due largely to his efforts.
BURIAL LOCATION: LEDGELAWN CEMETERY, BAR HARBOR, MAINE.