John Oscar Skinner – Lieutenant Colonel, United States Army

John Oscar Skinner of Maryland

Appointed from Maryland, Assistant Surgeon, 10 November 1874;
Major and Surgeon, 9 March 1892;
Retired 26 October 1893

Born in Maryland in 1845, Colonel Skinner earned his Medal of Honor on January 17, 1873 while serving as a surgeon with the United States Army at Lava Beds, Oregon, during the Indian Wars. He received the Medal via a special act of Congress because at the time he was a civilian contract surgeon serving with the Army.

He died on September 12, 1932 and was buried in Section 3 of Arlington National Cemetery.

Kathleen Bayly Skinner



Rank and organization: Contract Surgeon, U.S. Army. Place and date: At Lava Beds, Oregon, 17 January 1873. Entered service at: Maryland. Birth: Maryland. Date of issue: Unknown.


Rescued a wounded soldier who lay under a close and heavy fire during the assault on the Modoc stronghold after 2 soldiers had unsuccessfully attempted to make the rescue and both had been wounded in doing so.

Won the Congressional Medal of Honor For Rescuing Wounded
Soldier in Modoc Campaign
Custodian of Geronimo
Accompanied General Crook in His Trip to Navajo-Apache Country
Served in Army as a surgeon

WASHINGTON, September 13, 1932 – Lieutenant Colonel John Skinner, U. S. Army Medical Corps, retired, former superintendent of Columbia Hospital in this city, died last night after a long illness.  He was 87 years old.

Born in Baltimore on May 4, 1845, the son of John J. and Emeline Jones Skinner, Colonel Skinner attended the Sorbonne in Paris, took special courses at the University of Wurzburg in Germany and the University of Vienna and was a graduate of the Universities of Pennsylvania and Maryland.

During the Indian Wars, in which he served as an Assistant Surgeon, Colonel Skinner was one of four officers who accompanied General Crook in his personal investigation of the Navajo-Apache country.  He was the custodian of Geronimo during the Indian leader’s imprisonment at Fort Marion, St. Augustine, Florida.

Colonel Skinner received the Congressional Medal of Honor in April 1915, from President Wilson, for heroism in the Modoc Indian War in southern Oregon.  He was superintendent of Columbia Hospital for fifteen years before taking command of the United States Army Dispensary here in the World War.

He was a descendant of Lieutenant Colonel John Jones, who sat at the court-martial of Aaron Burr.  He was a member of the Order of Indian Wars, the Order of Carabao, the American Legion, the Optimist Club and the National Press Club.

Surviving are a daughter, Mrs. Sewell M. Johnson, with whom he made his home at the Porter Apartments; two granddaughters, the Misses Helen S. and Kathleen B. Johnson, and two bothers, E. Milton Skinner and Edgar M. Skinner of Cambridge, Maryland.  Colonel Skinner’s wife died in 1928.

Funeral services will be held on Thursday at 2 P.M. in the Hysong Funeral Home, 1300 N Street.  Burial will take place in Arlington National Cemetery.

Colonel Skinner was a Contract Surgeon with the rank of Major when he performed the act that won the Congressional Medal of Honor.  He rescued a wounded soldier who had lain under a close and heavy fire during the first assault on the Modoc stronghold in the Oregon lava beds on January 17, 1873, after two enlisted men had been wounded in unsuccessful attempts.  The difficulties were unusual.  It was impossible to see an Indian, and nothing but an occasional puff of smoke from behind a boulder told of a hiding place.

joskinner joskinner-gravesite-photo-august-2006 jskinner

Read our general and most popular articles

Leave a Comment