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Charles Windolph (aka Charles Wrangel)


Company H

Born: December 9, 1851 (Bergen, Germany)

Died: March 11, 1950

Grave location: Black Hills National Cemetery, Sturgis, SD

Grave GPS Coordinates: N44 22.206 W103 28.476


                                                                                                                                Mathilda Windolph - wife of Charles                                

He left Germany in 1871 and enlisted in the 7th Cavalry on July 23, 1872, under the name Charles Wrangel in Nashville, Tennessee by Captain Frederick Benteen. His previous occupation was shoemaker. He had deserted from Company A, 2nd Infantry. He participated in the Black Hills Expedition of 1874 and also the Nez Perce Campaign in 1877. His last re-enlistment was on March 22, 1878. He was awarded the Medal of Honor on October 5, 1878, for his part as a member of the sharpshooters who were protecting the water carriers during the Little Bighorn battle in 1876. The Medal of Honor citation read, “With three comrades, during the entire engagement, courageously held a position that secured water for the command.” He was wounded in the buttock during the hilltop fight on June 25 and returned to duty. He was awarded the Purple Heart for this wounded sustained during the Battle of the Little Bighorn. He was discharged on March 21, 1883, at Fort Meade, Dakota, as the First Sergeant of Company H. After his discharge he was employed by the Homestake Mining Company for 49 years. He resided at 5 Old Abe Street and 614 West Main in Lead, South Dakota. He married Mathilda L. Windolph in 1880. Mathilda died on March 23, 1924 and was buried in the Black Hills National Cemetery, Grave A225. Charles Windolph died on March 11, 1950 and was buried on March 14, 1950 in the Black Hills National Cemetery in Grave A239. He was 5’6” in height with brown hair, brown eyes, and a dark complexion.

Notes – I went to Lead, SD looking for the former houses of Windolph. The house at 614 West Main still stands. Nice front porch and easy to find. The house on Old Abe Street was not located. The numbering there now begins at 300. I drove up there (tight winding streets) and saw that no #5 exists. Either the house is there and they have changed the street numbers or the house was swallowed up by the Homestake Gold Mine. Where those lower numbered houses would have been on Old Abe Street is now part of the open-pit created by the mine.

Headstone for Charles Windolph at the Black Hills National Cemetery - Sturgis, South Dakota

Windolph’s former home at 614 West Main Street in Lead, South Dakota

  FINDING WINDOLPH - driving west of Rapid City, South Dakota, towards Sturgis on I90.  Take
EXIT 34 to the Black Hills National Cemetery and park at the visitor center.  Charles Windolph is buried
directly across from the visitor center.

  Medals of Honor awarded for Little Big Horn Battle -- Charles Windolph's medal is the one in the middle.
Photo taken at museum in visitor center at Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument.

  In October 1947, Edward S. Luce, superintendent of the Custer Battlefield National
Monument, traveled to Lead, South Dakota, to interview Charles Windolph.  Windolph
was 95 years old.

Charles Windolph Obituary - Rapid City Journal - March 11, 1950

Charles Windolph Obituary - Deadwood Pioneer-Times - March 12, 1950

 Charles Windolph Article - Courtesy of The Past Times Spring 2009 - thanks to Scott Larkin
 of the Fort Abraham Lincoln Foundation for giving permission to use - download the complete issue here.

  "Charlie Windolph's Purple Heart" by Michael L. Nunnally.  This article appeared in the newsletter of the LBHA.
Thanks to the author, Michael L. Nunnally, and to LBHA newsletter editor Rod Thomas for granting permission to post the article.

  S.D. Veteran, 95, Gets Purple Heart - Huron Daily Plainsman - December 13, 1946

  Proudest Veteran in America Receives Purple Heart Medal at Presentation - Lead Daily Call - December 9, 1946

  Indian Fighter Receives Award - Rapid City Journal - December 9, 1946

  Charles Windolph Obituary - Black Hills Press - March 16, 1950

  Article - "Sgt. Windolph Rode Comanche" - Sturgis Tribune - February 2, 1950 (includes photo of Windolph)

  Guard Honors Little Big Horn Soldier During Training - article from the Rapid City Journal - June 27, 2011

  In Honor of Miss Windolph - Daily Deadwood Pioneer Times - January 22, 1909 (article about Windolph's daughter, Marie)

  Newspaper reports of an accident suffered by Windolph in December 1899


Joseph Bates aka Joseph Murphy -- Abram Brant -- Alexander Brown -- John Burri -- Rose Courtney -- Peter Eixenberger -- Moses Flint

Edward Garlick  -- Max Goetze -- John Hammon -- Max Hoehn -- Jacob Katzemeir -- James King -- John Lattman -- John Mahoney

Samuel McCormick -- James McGee -- David McWilliams -- Jan Mollar -- Daniel Newell -- Olans Northeg -- John Pahl

James Rooney -- Elijah Strode -- Peter Thompson -- George Weaver -- Henry Charles Weihe -- Markus Weiss -- Charles Windolph