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William Giles Harding Carter
[[Image:150px|center|200px|border]]William Harding Carter
Personal Information
Born: November 19, 1851(1851-11-19)
Place of Birth: {{{place of birth}}}
Died: May 24, 1925 (aged 73)
Place of Death: {{{place of death}}}
Birth Name: {{{birth name}}}
Other Information
Allegiance: United States of America
Participation(s): {{{participations}}}
Branch: United States Army
Union Army
Service Years: {{{service years}}}
Rank: Major General
Service number : {{{servicenumber}}}
Battles: American Civil War
Indian Wars
Spanish-American War
World War I
Awards: Medal of Honor
Distinguished Service Medal
Relations: {{{relations}}}
Other work: {{{otherwork}}}

William Giles Harding Carter (November 19, 1851 – May 24, 1925) was a US Cavalry officer who served during the American Civil War, Spanish-American War and World War I. He was also took part in the Indian Wars seeing extensive service against the Apache and Commanche in Arizona being awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor against the Apache during the Comanche Campaign on August 30, 1881.[1][2]

Largely responsible for the modernization and organization of the United States Army during the early 20th century, he and Secretary of War Elihu Root are credited with the creation of the U.S. Army War College and helped pass the General Staff Act of 1903 through the United States Congress, replacing the office of commanding general with a chief of staff and a more efficient reorganizion of military staff structure. He was also an active supporter of the Militia Act of 1903 which proposed to replace the obsolete state militia system with the National Guard Bureau.[2]

A later historian and military biographer, Carter wrote several books including From Yorktown to Santiago with the 6th Cavalry (1900), Old Army Sketches (1906) and The Life of Lieutenant General Chaffee (1917) as well as a number articles and academic papers for professional and learned journals.


Born in Nashville, Tennessee, he received both public and private schooling as a child and later attended the Kentucky Military Institute in Frankfort, Kentucky later acting as a mounted messenger during the American Civil War. Accepted into West Point, Carter graduated with a commission as a Second Lieutenant on June 13, 1873. He was assigned to the 8th U.S. Infantry at Fort D.A. Russell, Wyoming and was later on escort duty at Fort Fetterman and Fort Laramie. In February 1874, he participated in expeditions against the Cheyenne, Brulé and Oglala Sioux.[2]

During the summer, he followed his company passing through California to the Arizona Territory and stationed at Fort McDowell. While there, he transferred to the 6th U.S. Cavalry on November 28 and later reassigned to the 5th U.S. Cavalry at Fort Verde where he remained until May 1875. Carter served in various posts throughout the territory as an army scout and was occasionally involved in a number of minor skirmishes with local tribes. From April to July 1876, he was involved in the removal of the Chiricahua Apache from their reservation in southeastern Arizona to the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation. He also oversaw the construction of the first telegraph line from Fort Grant to Fort Apache later that year.[2]

After a year of scouting in the Arizona and New Mexico territories as well as the Mexican state of Sonora during early 1878, Carter won promotion to first lieutenant on April 14, 1879 and took part in the final stages of the campaign against Victorio from June to October 1880. The following summer, he took part in the Comanche Campaign as an adjutant general to Colonel Eugene Asa Carr and was awarded the Medal of Honor ""for distinguished bravery in action against the Apache Indians" when he and two others rescued wounded soldiers under heavy fire during the Battle of Cibeque on August 30, 1881.

During the next several years, he would rise to high position being promoted to captain on November 20, 1889; major on January 29, 1897; lieutenant colonel on May 8, 1898; colonel on April 15, 1902; brigadier general on July 15, 1902 and finally to major general in 1909. In the years prior to the First World War, Carter was extensively involved in the technical details of organization of the US Army. In 1913, he later commanded the 2nd U.S. Division and was head of the Hawaiian Department before his retirement on November 19, 1915.[2]

Following the United States entry into the war, he was recalled to duty and appointed commander of the Central Department of Chicago from August 1917 to February 1918 and was later awarded the Distinguished Service Medal. Suffering from serious respiratory problems in his later years, likely related to heart disease, he died at his home in Washington, D.C. on May 24, 1925 and later buried in Arlington National Cemetery.[2]

Medal of Honor citation[]

Rank and organization: First Lieutenant, 6th U.S. Cavalry. Place and date: At Cibicu, Ariz., 30 August 1881. Entered service at: New York, N.Y. Birth: Nashville, Tenn. Date of issue: 17 September 1891.[1]


Rescued, with the voluntary assistance of 2 soldiers, the wounded from under a heavy fire.


  • From Yorktown to Santiago With the 6th Cavalry (1900)
  • Old Army Sketches (1906)
  • Giles Carter of Virginia (1909)
  • The American Army (1915)
  • Life and Services of General Chaffee (1917)
  • Horses, Saddles, and Bridles (1918)

See also[]

32x28px Biography portal
32x28px United States Army portal
32x28px American Civil War portal
  • List of Medal of Honor recipients
  • List of Medal of Honor recipients for the Indian Wars


 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the United States Army Center of Military History.
  1. 1.0 1.1 "Medal of Honor Recipients Indian Wars Period". Army Center of Military History. Retrieved 2009-04-12. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 "William Giles Harding Carter". Arlington National Cemetery. Retrieved 2009-04-12. 
  • Thrapp, Dan L. Encyclopedia of Frontier Biography: In Three Volumes, Volume I (A–F). Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1988. ISBN 0-8032-9418-2

Further reading[]

  • Machoian, Ronald G. William Harding Carter and the American Army, A Soldier’s Story. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2006.
  • Thrapp, Dan L. General Crook and the Sierra Madre Adventures. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1972.