ROBERT GOLDTHWAITE CARTER (1845 ~ 1936). Medal of Honor Recipient Robert G. Carter was born on October 29, 1845, in Bridgton, Maine, and later moved with his family to Portland, Maine, in 1847. He was educated in Portland before the family moved to Massachusetts in 1857, intending to enter him into the Phillips (Andover) Academy, which he never did.
Carter joined Company H, 22nd Massachusetts Infantry, Army of the Potomac as a private on August 5, 1862. Private Carter remained with this unit until October 4, 1864, possibly fighting in the Battle of Bull Run on August 30, and continuing with the 22nd Massachusetts to Antietam, Gettysburg, the Wilderness, and the Siege of Petersburg in addition to many smaller engagements. After the war, he entered the United States Military Academy in 1865.
Carter graduated on June 15, 1870, and was assigned to Troop E of the Fourth Cavalry. On September 4, 1870, he married and eight days later, he and his wife Mary departed for San Antonio. Carter served under Colonel Ranald Mackenzie in actions against the Comanche, Apache, and Kickapoo tribes out of Fort Richardson, Texas, where two of his three children were born.
On October 9, 1871, near Blanco Canyon along a tributary of the upper Brazos River, Carter"s unit was attacked by a Comanche force which captured 66 Army horses. The following morning, soldiers followed a small group of Comanche leading several horses through the canyon. Coming over a hill, the soldiers met a much larger group of Comanche waiting in ambush. Second Lieutenant Robert G. Carter, with five other soldiers, held off the ambush while the other soldiers retreated, an action for which he received the Congressional Medal of Honor on January 23, 1900.
Carter and the other five soldiers held back the enemy long enough for Mackenzie's main column and allied Tonkawa warriors to arrive, which forced the Comanche to retreat. Mackenzie followed the Comanche for several days across the Llano Estacado, but was kept from attacking on October 12 by a snowstorm. The campaign came to an end, and was regarded as unsuccessful as it covered 509 miles and had failed to capture any hostile Comanche bands. By 1873, Carter moved with Mackenzie to Fort Clark, Texas.
Mackenzie was approached by the Secretary of War, William Belknap, and General Sheridan, who asked him to invade Mexico to attack bands of Apache and Kickapoo who were living within Mexico but were stealing cattle and horses from South Texas ranchers. Since Mackenzie was asked to invade Mexico in person there would be no paper trail to point to the federal government. On May 16, 1873, having received intelligence that the male warriors had left the villages near Remolino, Coahuila, Mackenzie left Fort Clark with 377 men, including Second Lieutenant Carter, to reach the town of Remolino, 40 miles inside Mexico.
The soldiers traveled through the night and reached the Kickapoo village by dawn. Few warriors were left in the village for defense as the cavalry charged in, followed by dismounted troops who set fire to the grass huts. Many Kickapoo fled, and the two nearby Apache villages were abandoned when gunfire was heard. In a matter of minutes, 180 huts were destroyed and 40 women and children were taken prisoner, along with an important Lipan Apache chief and some 60 horses.
The soldiers returned to Texas on May 19, successful in their mission. The Mexican government ignored what was technically an act of war against it in order to avoid an unwanted scandal. The Kickapoo returned to the United States and were placed on a reservation in exchange for the women and children held by the Army. Most of the other hostile bands in the area were frightened by the surprise attack and fled to the mountains.
After his retirement, Carter was brevetted Captain on February 27, 1890, for his participation in the Remolino Raid. He was promoted to First Lieutenant on February 21, 1875, and retired from the Army on June 28, 1876, due to a disability inflicted in the line of duty.
Carter wrote several books about his adventures in the Army including The Boy Soldier at Gettysburg, in 1877, Four Brothers in Blue, in 1913, The Old Sergeant's Story, in 1926, Record of the Military Service of First Lieutenant and Brevet Captain Robert Goldthwaite Carter, U.S. Army 1862-1876, in 1904, and On the Border with Mackenzie, in 1935. Carter died in Washington D.C. on January 4, 1936; his wife died in November 1923. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
Bibliography: Graham, Sel. "Over the Years: A missing name on Texas' Medal of Honor Memorial, Robert Goldthwaite Carter, is the Forgotten Texas Hero," "Robert Goldthwaite Carter," Arlington National Cemetery Website, http://www.arlingtoncemetery.net/rgcarter.htm. "Robert Goldthwaite Carter," and "Remolino Raid," Handbook of Texas Online, Texas State Historical Association, University of Texas, http://www.tsha.utexas.edu/handbook/online/articles/CC/fca71.html. National Park Service, Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System, http://itd.nps.gov/cwss.