b. 1854 Malone, New York. d. ?
DATE OF MOH ACTION: 25/06/1876 Little Big Horn, Montana.
Tolan was born in Malone, New York in May 1854 and spent much of his early life as a farmer. At age 21, he enlisted in the United States Army in Boston, Massachusetts as a private with the 7th U.S. Cavalry Regiment on August 31, 1875.
Tolan saw action in the Montana Territory during the Great Sioux War of 1876–77 and, on June 25, 1876, was present at the Battle of the Little Bighorn against Chief Sitting Bull and the Sioux. A member of Company D under Captain Thomas Weir, he and several other soldiers volunteered to carry water from the Little Bighorn River to wounded soldiers at the Reno-Benteen site "under a most galling fire". He and the other Little Bighorn water carriers were among the twenty-two soldiers recommended for the Medal of Honor, Tolan officially receiving his award on October 5, 1878.
Although disappearing from record soon after his discharge around 1880, the Boston Globe reported in 1887 that its military editor was in possession of Tolan's MOH which "was obtained by a comrade from a squaw".
Voluntarily brought water to the wounded under fire.
BURIAL LOCATION: UNKNOWN.
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