The President of the United States
in the name of
takes pleasure in presenting the
Medal of Honor
William Othello Wilson, a native of Hagerstown, Maryland, was born on September 16, 1867. He enlisted in the United States Army on August 21, 1889. He earned the Medal of Honor on December 30, 1890 for "gallantry in action voluntarily", for successfully carrying a message to the battalion commander at the Pine Ridge Indian Agency in South Dakota. He carried the dispatch when reinforcements were needed when the wagon supply train of Captain John S. Loud came under Indian attack. His Medal of Honor was awarded on September 17, 1891. William Wilson returned to Hagerstown in 1898 and married. The marriage produced seven children.
In Hagerstown, Mr.Wilson was a "jack of all trades" and worked as a carpenter and upholsterer. He died in January 1928. The grassy triangle at the intersection of Jonathan Street, Charles Street, and Pennsylvania Avenue in Hagerstown, was dedicated to his honor in 1988. His home was located near the corner of Sumans Avenue and North Street., adjacent to the Martin Luther King Center. Although his family knew of his courageous military act, his actual burial site was unknown until Mrs. Mary Jones, Mr. Wilson's daugter-in-law began to research his endeavor. Mrs. Jones' research led her to the Washington County Free Library on February 28, 1997. Mr. Don Brown, by coincidence overheard her inquiries and joined the investigation. Don Brown discovered Mr. Wilson's gravesite in Rose Hill Cemetery on April 16, 1997. The grave marker was provided by the Veterans Administration.
Thus far, Mr. Wilson is the only Washington County, Maryland resident to receive the Medal of Honor, our nations highest military decoration. The Medal of Honor is awarded to a soldier, sailor, airman or marine who in actual combat, distinguishes himself "conspicuosly at the risk of life, by gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty." Mr. Wilson's military funeral symbolizes a sense of family and community pride and perfect conclusion to his heroic act of bravery.
BORN: Sept. 16, 1867
DIED: Jan. 18, 1928
BURIED: Rose Hill Cemetery
On the morning of December 29, 1890, the Sioux chief Big Foot and some 350 of his followers camped on the banks of Wounded Knee creek, a tributary of the White River. Surrounding their camp was a force of U.S. troops charged with the responsibility of arresting Big Foot and disarming his warriors. In a frantic attempt to return to their glory days, many Sioux sought deliverance in a new mysticism preached by a Paiute shaman called Wovoka, and fought fiercely believing that their "Ghost Shirts" would protect them from the bluecoats' bullets. In the savage battle twenty-four soldiers distinguished themselves to the degree that they were awarded the Medal of Honor. Though Corporal William Wilson's Medal of Honor citation lists only " bravery" and was awarded for the Sioux Campaign in South Dakota in December 1890, his award was for his heroism in action at White Clay Creek, a tributary of the White River, during this action.