A Buffalo Soldier Story & Cpl. William Othello Wilson, South Brunswich, NJ (1890-1928)
The Congressional Medal of Honor was awarded to William Othello Wilson for his heroism in the United States 9th Calvary Buffalo Soldiers in 1890. He fought in the Indian Wars, died in January 1928 and was buried in an unmarked grave in his native Hagerstown, Maryland.
His unit, camped about 50 miles north of Pine Ridge in what was then known as the Dakota Territory, was ordered by courier to return to Pine Ridge. Major Guy V. Henry broke camp and started the trip back at a rapid trot, covering the 50 miles as dawn broke at 5:30 a.m. Only D Troop and the wagon train remained about two miles outside the rest of the unit. About 50 enraged warriors attacked the wagon train, forcing Captain John S. Loud to circle the wagons and send off a note for help from the rest of the unit at Pine Ridge. After the two Indian scouts refused to deliver the message to Henry, Wilson, then 21, volunteered.
He mounted his horse and broke from the besieged wagon train, outrunning eight to 10 pursuers. Wilson delivered the message to Henry, who immediately remounted to return and help the troops. After a brief skirmish, the warriors withdrew and the wagon train was escorted to the main camp at Pine Ridge. Because of Wilsons ride for help, the troop sustained no casualties during the siege.
Wilson was formally awarded the nations highest award at Fort Robinson, Nebraska, on September 17, 1891. Despite this remarkable accomplishment during his service career, Wilson never told anyone outside of the family about the award, and asked his children not to tell anyone about the honor. Wilson was remembered at a 1998 Memorial Day service at the gravesite in which the 9th and 10th Calvary regiments re-created a 19th century military funeral.
SOURCE: CHARLES W. KIM, EDITED BY: LAWRENCE E. WALKER, 2001