b. 25/05/1850 Nenagh, Ireland. d. 29/05/1908 Whitestone, New York.
DATE OF MOH ACTION: 13/07/1872 Whetstone Mountains, Arizona.
John Nihill was born in Nenagh, Ireland, on May 25, 1850. He ran away from home at an early age and eventually made his way to the United States. Shortly after his arrival in Brooklyn, New York, he enlisted in the U.S. Army on November 10, 1868, and was assigned to the 5th U.S. Cavalry. He spent the next 15 years of his career with this regiment serving under such officers as William H. Emory, Wesley Merritt and Eugene A. Carr during the Indian Wars against the Plains Indians throughout the American frontier "as far east as Kansas, to Arizona in the west, and south from the Yellowstone Park to the Rio Grande". Two years later, Nihill took part in Carr's Republican River expedition, which included William F. "Buffalo Bill" Cody as a guide and scout, and saw action at the Battle of Summit Springs on July 11, 1869. He also participated in similar campaigns at the Solomon River in Kansas, and at Red Willow and Budwood Creeks in Nebraska between 1869 and 1871. He followed Carr to the Arizona Territory in late-1871 where the 5th Cavalry battled the Apache for the next four years. It was during this time that he became close friends with William Cody and Captain Jack Crawford.
During the 1880s, Nihill became an accomplished marksman and established himself as one of the top "crack shots" in the United States military. In 1882, Nihill won a spot on the Department of the Platte Rifle Team, as well as a medal with the Division of the Mississippi Rifle Team. This medal was the first one ever awarded to a member of the 5th U.S. Cavalry for marksmanship. He took the Division of the Missouri's silver medal at Fort Leavenworth on September 27, 1882. After his term of enlistment expired the following year at Fort McKinney in Wyoming, Nihill reenlisted with Battery B of the 5th U.S. Artillery at Fort Wadsworth. He continued to win shooting awards during the next few years including those from the Department of the East Skirmish and the first Silver Medal of the Atlantic in 1885. He also won the his regiment's battery medal three years in a row from 1884 to 1886. Nihill won so many medals that he was eventually barred from competing for army medals, being permitted to shoot in contests, but not eligible to accept awards.
Fought and defeated 4 hostile Apaches located between him and his comrades.
BURIAL LOCATION: CYPRESS HILLS NATIONAL CEMETERY, BROOKLYN, NEW YORK.
Section 2, Grave 6640
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