5 Heroic Veterans From the Chippewa Valley

Tom Giffey

MITCHELL RED CLOUD JR.
MITCHELL RED CLOUD JR.

1. MITCHELL RED CLOUD JR.

Red Cloud, a Jackson County native and a member of the Ho-Chunk Nation, served in the Marines in World War II and in the Army during the Korean War. On the night of Nov. 5, 1950, Red Cloud raised an alarm when he heard Chinese troops attempting an ambush. He fired at the attackers, buying his comrades time to mount a defense. Wounded repeatedly, Red Cloud ordered another soldier to tie him to a tree so he could continue shooting. The next morning his battalion recovered his body, still tied to the tree and surrounded by dead Chinese soldiers. Red Cloud received a posthumous Medal of Honor, and in 1999 the U.S. Navy named a ship after him.

2. CHARLES MOWER

Chippewa Falls native Charles Mower wasn’t yet 20 years old when he died during the Battle of Leyte in the Philippines in 1944. Mower, an Army sergeant, was part of an invasion force attempting to retake the islands from the Japanese during World War II. Taking command of his squad after his superior was killed, Mower waded into a stream churning with machine gun fire. He used his exposed position to direct his men to knock out several enemy positions. Mower was posthumously given the Medal of Honor, the U.S. military’s highest award for valor.

3. RICHARD COSGRIFF SR.

Even though Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee had surrendered a week earlier, 19-year-old Richard H. Cosgriff Sr. found himself in battle on April 16, 1865, near Columbus, Georgia. Cosgriff, a cavalryman, volunteered to storm a crucial bridge. He rode past two lines of entrenched rebels and fought hand to hand to take the bridge, capturing a Confederate flag-bearer and his banner. For his heroics, Cosgriff was given the Medal of Honor. He returned to Wisconsin after the war, spending most of the rest of his life in Chippewa Falls.

4. HORACE ELLIS

Horace Ellis of Chippewa Falls also received the Medal of Honor for his bravery in capturing a Confederate flag during the Civil War. Ellis was a member of the 7th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry, part of the fabled Iron Brigade. Ellis distinguished himself at the Battle of Globe Tavern in 1864: Armed only with a revolver, he dashed over the breastworks, and – despite having his hat shot off – singlehandedly captured a Mississippi regiment’s flag as well as the regiment’s officers. He survived the war but died just two year later at 24.

5. HUGH MCGRATH

The only Medal of Honor recipient from Eau Claire is U.S. Army Major Hugh McGrath. In July 1899, during the Philippine Insurrection (which followed the Spanish-American War), McGrath swam across a river in the face of enemy fire and grabbed two canoes, allowing U.S. troops to cross the river and storm an enemy position. McGrath was injured in a later battle and subsequently died. He was given the Medal of Honor posthumously and buried in Arlington National Cemetery.