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Hagerstown in Washington County, Maryland — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
 

Corporal William Othello Wilson

 
 
Corporal William Othello Wilson Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Christopher Busta-Peck, February 23, 2008
1. Corporal William Othello Wilson Marker
Inscription.  United States Army Medal of Honor Recipient and Buffalo Soldier

William Othello Wilson, a native of Hagerstown, Maryland, enlisted in the U.S. Army on August 21, 1889, at age 22 in St. Paul, Minnesota.

He was subsequently assigned to the 9th Cavalry, I Troop in the western frontier during the Indian Wars. Soldiers in the 9th and 10th Cavalry regiments were among the first black soldiers in the history of the United States Army.

Cheyenne warriors who later fought these cavalrymen gave them the name "Buffalo Soldiers." On December 30, 1890, during the Pine Ridge Campaign in South Dakota, William Wilson made history.

As the 1890's drew to a close, the Indian way of life among all tribes had been virtually eliminated. Many tribes were assigned to various reservations throughout the West. At the same time, the Ghost Dance theology spread through the Indian culture. The Ghost Dance rekindled pride and promised restoration of the Indian way of life.

By December 30, 1890, the atmosphere at the Pine Ridge Reservation had become tense due in part to the Ghost Dance theology. Major Guy V. Henry
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was given orders to return to Pine Ridge immediately to help calm the situation. Henry's supply train, under the command of Captain John S. Loud, was left behind in order for him to make better time. Indians in the Cheyenne Creek area then attacked and isolated the wagon train.

Captain John S. Loud prepared a message to Major John Henry for help. When scouts refused to carry the message, William Wilson volunteered and said "Lt., I will carry that dispatch." With Indians in pursuit, Corporal Wilson made the gallant ride to summon assistance at the pine Ridge Agency which was about two miles away.

Later Major Henry declared, "Corporal William O. Wilson, Troop I, 9th Cavalry, volunteer for the above duty and, though pursued by Indians, succeeded. Such examples of soldier-like conduct are worthy of imitation and reflect credit not only upon Corporal Wilson but the 9th Cavalry."

William Wilson's Medal of Honor was issued on September 17, 1891. Corporal Wilson was the last African American to qualify for the Medal of Honor in the West and the last one to earn it on American soil. On May 30, 1998, a ceremony was held at Rose Hill Cemetery to formally commemorate William Wilson's act of bravery.

His original home is located approximately one block south of this exhibit on West North Avenue. Exhibits regarding William Wilson's saga are on display
Corporal William Othello Wilson Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Devry Becker Jones (CC0), November 11, 2020
2. Corporal William Othello Wilson Marker
The marker has weathered.
at the office of Brothers United Who Dare to Care, Incorporated, at 131 West North Avenue.

His grave site is located in Rose Hill Cemetery, 600 South Potomac Street, here in Hagerstown.

The William Othello Wilson story is told in Frank N. Schubert's book, "Black Valor."
 
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: African AmericansNative AmericansWars, US Indian. In addition, it is included in the Buffalo Soldiers, and the Medal of Honor Recipients series lists. A significant historical month for this entry is May 1940.
 
Location. 39° 38.996′ N, 77° 43.047′ W. Marker is in Hagerstown, Maryland, in Washington County. Marker is at the intersection of Jonathan Street and Pennsylvania Avenue on Jonathan Street. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Hagerstown MD 21740, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. African Americans and the Medal of Honor (here, next to this marker); Buffalo Soldiers (here, next to this marker); United States Colored Troops (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Hagerstonians in the Civil War (approx. 0.2 miles away); 468 North Potomac Street (approx. 0.2 miles away); 474 North Potomac Street (approx. 0.2 miles away); a different marker
African American Veterans marker display image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Devry Becker Jones (CC0), November 11, 2020
3. African American Veterans marker display
also named Hagerstonians in the Civil War (approx. 0.2 miles away); a different marker also named Hagerstonians in the Civil War (approx. 0.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Hagerstown.
 
Medal of Honor Triangle image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Christopher Busta-Peck, February 23, 2008
4. Medal of Honor Triangle
William O. Wilson House image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Christopher Busta-Peck, February 23, 2008
5. William O. Wilson House
Corporal William Othello Wilson Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Don Morfe, April 15, 2000
6. Corporal William Othello Wilson Marker
Grave marker for Corporal Wilson located at Rose Hill Cemetery, Hagerstown MD-Section 14, Grave 1160.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on November 11, 2020. It was originally submitted on February 25, 2008, by Christopher Busta-Peck of Shaker Heights, Ohio. This page has been viewed 3,429 times since then and 64 times this year. Photos:   1. submitted on February 25, 2008, by Christopher Busta-Peck of Shaker Heights, Ohio.   2, 3. submitted on November 11, 2020, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia.   4, 5. submitted on February 25, 2008, by Christopher Busta-Peck of Shaker Heights, Ohio.   6. submitted on December 23, 2013, by Don Morfe of Baltimore, Maryland. • Craig Swain was the editor who published this page.

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Apr. 19, 2024