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Compatriot Medal of Honor Recipients

Bernard Albert Byrne

Bernard Albert Byrne 

Bernard A. Byrne was born on October 19, 1852, in Newport Barracks, Kentucky. He was the son of Major Bernard Myles and Louisa (Abert) Byrne. He was educated at Columbian College (now George Washington University) in Washington, D.C.

After graduation, he was appointed on October 15, 1875, as a second lieutenant, 6th U.S. Infantry. He was promoted to first lieutenant on December 31, 1882. He served as the regimental adjutant from November 1, 1886, to March 31, 1890, and was promoted to captain on November 9, 1894. 

Captain Byrne was serving with the 6th U.S. Regular Infantry during the Insurrection in the Philippines. This was a time when the U.S. Army sought to root out the rebel forces of Emilio Aguinaldo. On July 19, 1899, Captain Byrne’s soldiers were in defense of a key bridge in Bobong, Negros, Philippine Islands, when the line was broken by a fierce rebel attack and were pushed back. Captain Byrne was awarded the Medal of Honor for his courageous leadership to rally his men to re-form and resist the enemy assault. His Medal was awarded to him on July 15, 1902. 

He received a brevet promotion to lieutenant colonel, 28th United States Infantry on June 15, 1906. At his own request, he retired with over thirty years of service, on July 13, 1906. 

Bernard A. Byrne was a member of the District of Columbia SAR. His National number is 2084 and his D.C. Society number is 285. His SAR patriot ancestor was Timothy Matlack (1736 – 1829), of Pennsylvania, “the fighting Quaker,” member of the Committee of Safety; colonel of militia; deputy in the State Conference of 1776; delegate of the Continental Congress, 1780-1787; secretary of the Council of State; and master of rolls, 1781.” He signed his SAR application in April 1891, as B. A. Byrne, U.S. Army, 1st Lieutenant – 6th Regiment of Infantry. 

Please note that there is a discrepancy in the spelling of Byrne’s middle name between open literature and his SAR application and tombstone. His SAR application, in his handwriting, shows his name to be Bernard Abert Byrne. He writes that he was “born in the Town of Newport, County of Campbell, State of Kentucky.” Open literature says his middle name to be Albert and that he was “born in Newport Barracks, VA.” There was a Newport Barracks at this time, but it was located in Kentucky across the river from Cincinnati. His SAR application lists his parents as Bernard M. Byrne and Louisa Abert and his grandparents as Col. John James Abert and Ellen Matlack Stretch. Further, U.S. Pensioners, 1818-1872, records for Bernard M. Byrne, MD, show his widow to be Louisa Abert Byrne. 

Byrne died on February 28, 1910, at the age of fifty-six, in California and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery. His tombstone reads: “MEDAL OF HONOR; BERNARD ABERT BYRNE; LIEUT. COLONEL, U.S. ARMY; OCT. 19, 1853, FEB. 28, 1910; ‘Well done, good and faithful servant.’”

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