Calvin Pearl Titus
September 22, 1879 — May 27, 1966
August 14, 2010 marked the 110th anniversary of U.S. Army Corporal and Trumpeter Calvin P Titus’ daring exploit that resulted in his being awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.
Calvin credited his time in his uncle’s evangelical band with giving him the bugle skills to join the armed forces and eventually leading him to Peking. Calvin Pearl got into West Point as a result of his Medal of Honor, where President Theodore Roosevelt’s presentation of his medal was the climax of a ceremony to celebrate the academy’s centennial. His religious upbringing led him to try to become an Army Chaplain but his denomination was not at that point in time recognized by the Army. He became a Chaplain’s assistant instead. He retired from the Army with the rank of lieutenant colonel.
During the fiercely opposed relief expedition to Peking in the Boxer Rebellion in 1900, when two companies of the U.S. Army’s 14th Infantry Regiment were pinned by heavy fire from the east wall of the Tartar City and the Fox Tower between abutments of the Chinese City Wall near Tung Pien Gate, volunteers were called for to attempt the first perilous ascent of the wall. Trumpeter Calvin P. Titus of E Company immediately stepped forward saying, “I’ll try, sir!” Using jagged holes in the stone wall, he succeeded in reaching the top. He was followed by the rest of his company, who climbed unarmed, and hauled up their rifles and ammunition belts by a rope made of rifle slings. As the troops ascended the wall artillery fire from Reilly’s battery set fire to the Fox Tower. In the face of continued heavy Chinese fire, the colors broke out in the August breeze as the sign that U.S. Army troops had achieved a major step in the relief of the besieged Legations. For his courageous and daring deed in being the first to climb the wall, Trumpeter Titus was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.
Titus entered the U.S. Military Academy at West Point
In 1902 President Theodore Roosevelt traveled to the academy. The presentation of his medal was the climax of a ceremony to celebrate the academy’s centennial.
Titus went onto a career in the US Army. By the time the U.S. entered World War I, Titus was a major, and was promoted to lieutenant colonel before Armistice Day. He performed administrative duties in the States and did not go overseas until after the war. He returned to Iowa to run the ROTC program at Coe College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, for six years, retiring about 1930.
Medal of Honor Citation
Rank and organization: Musician, U.S. Army, Company E, 14th U.S. Infantry. Place and date: At Peking, China, August 14, 1900. Entered service at: Iowa. Birth: Vinton, Iowa. Date of issue: March 11, 1902.
Gallant and daring conduct in the presence of his colonel and other officers and enlisted men of his regiment; was first to scale the wall of the city.
The bugle played by Calvin Titus is in the museum at West Point