By Wallace J. Long - 15 May 1980
According to the records on hand, Sergeant George Ernest Veuve was born in the city of Neuchatel in Switzerland. There exists some confusion as to the exact year; his obituary and death certificate give the year 1843. However, computation based on his Army Enlistment Records give the year 1845.
Very little is known about his early life in Switzerland other than the facts that he learned the coppersmith trade and that he spoke German. He is believed to have come to the United States early in 1864.
According to family history, related to me by Mr. James McCauley of Logan, Montana, a grand-nephew, Ernest Veuve enlisted in the Union Army. He served in one of the German-speaking Divisions of Volunteer Troops, and participated in General Sherman's March to the Sea Campaign (April-May 1865). During this campaign, he was attacked and wounded on the head by a Confederate cavalryman armed with a saber. Unfortunately this Civil War service can not be substantiated by National Archives Records, since it is not known in what state the troops with which Mr. Veuve served originated.
His subsequent military career is fortunately well documented. We know that following the Civil War, when in Cincinnati, Ohio, he enlisted in the 3rd Battalion of the 16th United States Infantry Regiment. The enlistment was for a three year period commencing 17 October 1866, and ending 17 October 1869.
He is described most inadequately as having blue eyes, light hair, a fair complexion, and being five feet, five and one-half inches tall.
On 17 December 1869, Ernest Veuve reenlisted in the Army at Jackson Barracks, three miles south of New Orleans, Louisiana. l He was assigned to Company A, 1st Battalion, 4th United States Cavalry. The enlistment was for five years. During that time the Fourth Cavalry was sent to Indian Territory (Oklahoma), West Texas, and Kansas.
At some point during this second tour, Ernest Veuve was appointed to the rank of Farrier. (Two farriers were assigned to each company of cavalry. They drew the same pay as corporals, $15.00 per month, and were responsible for the proper shoeing of the company horses.)
Near the end of this second tour of duty, and while campaigning on the Staked Plains of West Texas, Farrier Veuve won the Medal of Honor for a hand to hand combat with a hostile Indian on 3 November 1874. This event is recorded in several places, his obituary, and on the Sgt. Ernest Veuve Reserve Center dedication plaque, and in Deeds of Valor: How America's Heroes Won the Medal of Honor, which states, "In the fight on November 3rd, Farrier Ernest Veuve of Co. A had an interesting encounter with a hostile Indian, who faced him at a most unexpected time and when he was completely separated from his comrades. The intrepid farrier, however, proved equal to the emergency and after a brief hand to hand fight put the Indian to flight."
Discharged on 17 December 1874, Ernest Veuve again reenlisted at Jackson Barracks, New Orleans, Louisiana, on 16 January 1875, for a period of five years. This time he was assigned to Co. H, 3rd United States Infantry Regiment.
Between January 1875 and November 1877, his exact location is unknown, but on or about 14 November 1877, he arrived as part of the escort of one of the first Army wagon trains to come to Fort Missoula, Montana Territory. His presence, his rank of Sergeant, and his assignment to Company H is verified by his tombstone in the Missoula Cemetery and his obituary.
According to Mr. James McCauley, Sgt. Veuve had duties with the Quarter-master's Department while at Ft. Missoula.
January, 1880, was event-filled. On the 16th, he received his final discharge from the Army. On the 22nd, he was married to a Miss Anna McCarty of Missoula. With a great deal of misspelling, misinformation, and confusion, the marriage was recorded in the Weekly Missoulian of January 30 as follows:
"LOCAL NEWS: Married: Verva-McCarty - in Bitter Root Bend, at the residence of Major M. M. McCauley January 22, 1880 by Rev. Fra. Menitri, Anas Verva to Anna McCarty late of Washington D. C." And once again: "Here they go again. It becomes our pleasing duty to report the marriage festivities of another happy couple. On Thursday of last week, Mr. Anas Verva, a partner of Major M. M. McCauley of Bitterroot Bend, was united in wedlock to Miss Anna McCarty, sister of Mrs. Major McCauley. Miss McCarty formerly lived in the City of Washington, D.C. and came west on a visit to her sister about a year ago, and as will be seen by our marriage notices, has been persuaded to remain and make her home with us. Wedding favors of a substantial nature are duly acknowledged by the employees of this office."
Once again our informant, Mr. James McCauley, sheds some light on Sgt. Veuve's life. After leaving the Army, he had contracts with the Post Quarter- master to haul wood to Fort Missoula.
Following his discharge, it is known that Sgt. Ernest Veuve, his wife Anna, and their daughter, lived at 608 East Pine St., until his death on June 17, 1916. His funeral arrangements were handled by the Marsh Funeral Home and the Covenant Lodge No. 6, Independent Order of Odd Fellows of Missoula.
He is buried in the IOOF plot in the Missoula Cemetery. He has the standard government issue headstone, on which no mention of his Medal appears. It reads simply: Sergt. Ernest Veuve Co. H 3rd U.S. Inf.
In 1957 the local Army Reserve Center was named for and dedicated to the memory of Sergeant Ernest Veuve.
End note June 4, 2006:
Prior to Memorial Day, a new bronze plaque was placed on the grave of Sgt. Veuve. Unlike his original head stone which is still in place, this bronze plaque is specifically designed to honor a Medal of Honor recipient. He is in the Missoula Cemetery.
Fort Missoula Post Cemetery - 1st row on the left as you enter, there are two new marble head stones of these Medal of Honor winnners: Michael Himmelsback and Harry Garland. I have less information on these men than I have for Sgt. Veuve. If someone wishes to do more research on them, I will help them get started.
- Wally Long