Edwards, Daniel R. (1888–1967)

By: Art Leatherwood

Type: Biography

Published: January 1, 1995

Updated: May 15, 2014

Daniel R. Edwards, Medal of Honor recipient, was born at Mooreville, Texas, on April 9, 1888. He entered military service at Bruceville. He was nominated for the Medal of Honor twice for his exploits in World War I. Because the military preferred not to confer two such awards on an individual, his first award was changed to a Distinguished Service Cross, the second highest honor given. The action for which Edwards received the Distinguished Service Cross occurred on May 28, 1918, near Cantigny, France. He was serving as a private in Company C, Third Machine Gun Battalion, First Infantry Division, when he was part of a gun squad covering the retreat of the battalion. All the other members of the squad became casualties, and Edwards covered his battalion's retreat by himself, operating an eighty-pound weapon that he carried on his shoulder. As his battalion withdrew he repulsed several counterattacks from flame-throwers as well as other weaponry. He received bayonet wounds in the wrist and stomach but refused to quit until darkness fell. He was evacuated to a hospital, from where he was to be sent back to the United States.

The action that earned him the Medal of Honor took place some weeks later, during the battle of Soissons, on July 18, 1918. Edwards learned that his unit was preparing for another attack, left the hospital without permission, and hitchhiked to the front, where he rejoined his outfit. During the fighting he crawled into a German trench, his severely wounded right arm notwithstanding, and there killed four German soldiers and took four others prisoner. As he marched the group back to his own lines an artillery shell exploded nearby, killing one of the German soldiers and seriously injuring Edwards in his left leg.

After the war he became a celebrity. During the 1920 presidential election he served as a press aide to Warren G. Harding, who subsequently appointed him to a job helping war veterans. Later in his life Edwards worked as a fishing guide on Lake Ouachita in Arkansas. For a while he was also a popular speaker on the war. His exploits as he reported them approached the unbelievable, however, and doubts have been raised about some of them. Edwards married Mary Hanie in Georgia in June 1941, and they had four children. His life was chronicled in a book, This Side of Hell: Dan Edwards, Adventurer (1932), by Lowell Thomas. Edwards died on October 21, 1967, at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Little Rock, Arkansas, and was buried in Cunningham Cemetery, near Hot Springs, Arkansas.

Thomas Turner, "Daniel Edwards-Hero or Hoax?," The Annals: Official Publication of the Medal of Honor Historical Society 12 (March 1990). Committee on Veterans' Affairs, United States Senate, Medal of Honor Recipients, 1863–1973 (Washington: GPO, 1973). Waco Tribune-Herald, November 28, 1986.

Time Periods:
  • Progressive Era

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Art Leatherwood, “Edwards, Daniel R.,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed July 05, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/edwards-daniel-r.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

January 1, 1995
May 15, 2014