First Sergeant, Company B, 5th U.S. Cavalry. Awarded for campaigns against the Apaches, 1872-73.
September 26, 1872
Born Welford Chapman Bridwell in Maryland in 1846, he ran away from home at age 14 and joined the Confederate Army under the name Clay Beauford. He served as a drummer boy for Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia for a year before becoming a regular infantryman. He fought at Gettysburg, took part in Pickett's Charge and was wounded three times during his service.
In 1869, living near Nashville, he joined the U.S. Army, Company B, 5th Cavalry. He fought in several Indian campaigns and was cited twice for bravery. The flamboyant Beauford helped guide Lt. Col. George Crook's men during his "winter campaign" against renegade Apaches. Beauford was one of 22 (12 cavalrymen and 10 Apache Scouts) cited for "gallant conduct during the campaigns" and was awarded the Medal of Honor along with fellow troopers Sergeants James Bailey and James H. Turpin.
Beauford later described the hardships of being on constant patrol in the Arizona frontier in the last year of his service. Among his exploits was the capture of White Mountain Apache chief Toga-da-chuz and his son, the future "Apache Kid." He worked as a civilian scout until the spring of 1875, when he became chief of the San Carlos Apache Police, charged with keeping peace among more than 4,000 Native Americans then living on the reservation. For his no-nonsense attitude, experience, knowledge of the Apache language, and respected reputation among the Apache themselves, Beauford was considered ideal for the position.
After surviving an assassination attempt, on April 21, 1877, he led the 102-man Apache police force that captured Geronimo at Ojo Caliente.
He became a cattle rancher, prospector and popular elected official in Arizona before retiring and moving to California. Mount Buford in Maricopa County is named for him.