Indian Wars Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient. He served as a Blacksmith in Company H, 7th US Cavalry Regiment, and was awarded the MOH for his actions at the Battle of the Little Bighorn, Montana. Born in Mount Pleasant, Pennsylvania, he enlisted on August 5, 1875, at age 23, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, giving his previous occupation as blacksmith. He had gray eyes, dark brown hair, a fair complexion, and was 5 feet, 9 ¾ inches tall. He was assigned to the blacksmith position in Company H, 7th Cavalry. During the Battle of the Little Bighorn, his company was assigned to Captain Benteen’s column, and after receiving General Custer’s order to rejoin the main company, rode onto Reno’s Hill, rejoining Major Reno’s soldiers just as the Indians were finishing off Custer’s column. Within minutes of finishing off Custer’s command, the Indians resumed their attack on Reno’s command, now reinforced with Benteen’s command. The morning of June 26, the men had run out of water, so volunteers were requested to make a run to the river (then in Indian hands) to fill canteens for water. Mechlin and three others, considered excellent marksmen, volunteered to cover a party of eleven men running for the water. Standing exposed the four marksmen created a corridor to the river by killing all of the Indians in the way, and by suppressing the fire of the other nearby Indians. For this voluntary risk to his life, Mechlin, the three other marksmen, and the eleven canteen bearers were all awarded the Medal of Honor. He was awarded the MOH on August 29, 1878, which reads: “With three comrades, during the entire engagement, courageously held a position that secured water for the command, in the Little Big Horn River fight.” Surviving the battle, he was discharged on August 4, 1880, at Fort Meade, Dakota Territory upon the completion of his enlistment. After that, he resided in Conneautville, Pennsylvania, receiving a pension of $34 per month. In 1903, he returned to the battlefield, and assisted the superintendent in locating several remains that had not previously been found, and seeing them moved to the main cemetery. He was admitted to the US Soldiers Home in Washington DC, on August 30, 1911, and died there on April 10, 1926. Cause of death was broncho-pneumonia and chronic myocarditis. His wife, Ellen E. Mechlin, preceded him in death.
Bio by: Kit and Morgan Benson
Julia Ellen Stevenson Mechling