Richard Moses Longfellow was born on June 24, 1867 in Logan County (near Springfield) Illinois to Melinda Ann (Bryte) and Richard Moses Longfellow. He was the seventh child born to the couple. Since he shared his name with his father, he was typically referred to as "Moses" throughout his life.
The family moved from Illinois to Nebraska to homestead when he was 15. Although attending school though the fourth grade, he was later credited as "well-educated due to his interest in and ability to absorb a prodigious amount of varied reading material."
The battleship USS Maine exploded in Havana harbor on February 15,1898. A Navy board of inquiry concluded (incorrectly) on March 25 that the cause of the explosion was "external." On April 19 Congress demanded Spain set Cuba free and blockaded Cuban ports. Spain declared war on the US on April 23. Longfellow joined the 1st North Dakota Infantry Volunteers on April 27, 1898 and was assigned to Company A. He listed "boiler-maker" as his occupation and Mandan as his hometown on his enlistment papers.
Most of the regular Army was fighting in Cuba and Puerto Rico, so three-fourths of the 10,000 men sent to the Spanish-held Philippine Islands were members of state militias – the National Guard. The 1st North Dakota Volunteer Infantry – with 36 officers and 401 men – were among the 126,000 American soldiers. Although Spain surrendered on August 13th, Philippine insurgents under General Aguinaldo refused to accept the terms of the surrender. The Philippine Insurrection had begun.
Richard Longfellow was one of a hand-picked group of soldiers known as "Young's Scouts," tasked with being at the forefront of movement in rebel-controlled areas. On May 13, 1899, eleven of these scouts earned Medals of Honor in a frontal attack on 300 enemy. Three days later, the scouts encountered a large enemy force of at San Isidro who had set fire to the strategic bridge. Three Scouts sprinted across the bridge, firing at the enemy from point-blank range, while the remaining Scouts took cover and returned fire on the enemy trenches on the opposite bank, only fifty yards distant. Private Longfellow was one of twenty-two Scouts that braved the hail of fire to rush the burning, wooden bridge and extinguished the flames, though constantly under fire. They then attacked and routed the enemy forces numbering 600 men.
Richard Longfellow was the only individual nominated for the Congressional Medal of Honor for both engagements. He received the award for his participation in the second attack.
late 1800s CMOH
The original attempt to send his medal to him via US Mail was returned by postal officials as unclaimed mail in April 1906. When he was the only one among his comrades who had not received the award, only through his persistence with the War Department did Longfellow ultimately receive his medal, again by US Mail, in June 1909.
Longfellow was discharged on September 25, 1899. He returned to Mandan and married Annie Sutherland Clouston on June 4, 1900.
He lived and worked in Mandan until about 1906 when the family relocated to Dickinson. Richard began a long career with the Northern Pacific (NP) Railway in 1907. Subject to transfers in assignment as a conductor, he moved his family to Dickinson, three locations in Idaho and eventually Spokane, Washington. He was remembered as kind and considerate to patrons.
In 1915, he moved the family, now including 5 children to a homestead in Idaho. While Longfellow pursued his career, his older sons operated the farm until 1922 when they settled in Lewiston, Idaho.
The five sons and four daughters born to the couple included; Richard Milton born December 22, 1900; Ralph Homer born April 20, 1902; Pearl Lucille born November 10, 1903; Harley Alford born December 20, 1906; Keith Acton born November 1, 1908; twin daughters Ruby Margaret born December 24, 1911 and Ruth Anne born December 25, 1911; Ora Ella born June 29, 1914; and Henry Wadsworth born August 20, 1916.
Richard and Ann Longfellow - June 1900
Richard Longfellow with son Ralph
In 1937, Longfellow retired from the Northern Pacific Railway as a conductor after three decades of service. In his free time, Longfellow became an avid gardener, reader and enjoyed small pets. He enjoyed listening to and learning from the radio and playing cards. He remained patriotic and joined the Spanish-American War Veterans' organization. He gifted a US bond to each of his 19 grandchildren at their births.
Longfellow died in St. Joseph's Hospital on May 17, 1951 and is buried in Normal Hill Cemetery in Lewiston, Idaho.
The last piece of US Highway 10 was completed in 1923 with the opening of a two lane bridge across the Missouri River between Mandan and Bismarck. The structure, named Liberty Memorial Bridge, honored all who served in the military during World War I. It was replaced in 2008 with a four-lane bridge including public parks adjacent to the approaches on both sides. Keeping within the military theme, the citizens of Mandan honored their hometown hero by naming the west-side park after Longfellow.
The Society would like to thank Kenneth Clouston and Richard's grandson Ralph Longfellow Jr. for sharing this information with us.
The MHSoc's museum and office is located at 3827 30th Avenue NW; PO Box 1001; Mandan, ND 58554 Contact us at email@example.com