On May 16, 2015, under fair skies of a mild spring morning, Medal of Honor recipient at the Battle of Big Hole, Sgt. Milden H. Wilson, was ceremoniously honored at Erie Cemetery in Erie, Pennsylvania.
Organized and participated in by representatives from Veterans of Foreign Wars, Billy Simpson Post 470, and Millcreek American Legion Post 773, among a gathering of other Erie residents, the occasion was precipitated by the recent installation of a Medal of Honor gravestone at Wilson’s gravesite.
The ceremony included the Presentation of the Colors; an Introduction by Friends President, Robert Luppi, including a presentation of details of Sgt. Wilson’s life; the
reading of the citation for Wilson’s Medal of Honor; the singing of “Amazing Grace” by soloist, Thomas Lee; a salute to Wilson by an Honor Guard; the playing of “Taps”, and the laying of a wreath at Wilson’s gravesite.
The location of Milden H. Wilson’s gravesite had seemed to be unknown to historians until recently. When documentation of Pennsylvania death certificates from 1906 to 1963 recently became available to researchers, the Medal of Honor Historical Foundation checked this resource against their list of MOH recipients whose burial sites were unknown, and found Sgt. Wilson’s gravesite in Erie. One of the Society’s goals is to locate every MOH recipient’s grave and to ensure that their Medal of Honor is known to their community.
Milden H. Wilson was born in Norwalk, Ohio in 1847 to William Wilson and Murietta Wausur. His long Army career began on March 12, 1864, when he enlisted in Company “H” of the Indiana 87th Infantry Regiment of the Union Army. He was mustered out on June 10, 1865 at Washington, D.C. married Sarah Carr and worked as an Indiana farmer before enlisting in Toledo, Ohio in Company “I” of the 7th U.S, Infantry. Wilson continued to serve with Company “I” of the 7th until he retired in 1897—four decades in service to his country.
At the Battle of Big Hole on August 9-10, 1877, Wilson was a member of a force of about two hundred soldiers and civilian volunteers, under the command of Colonel John Gibbon, who fought the Nez Perce Indians at Big Hole, Montana, which resulted in numerous deaths and injuries on both sides and the failure of the military in that battle to subdue the Indians and force them onto reservation life. The Medal of Honor Citation for Sgt. Milden H. Wilson reads that he was presented the Medal:
“For gallantry in forming company from line of skirmishers and deploying again
Under a galling fire, and in carrying dispatches at the imminent risk of his life.”
Sometime after his retirement from the military, Wilson moved to Erie. At some point in his life, his marriage with Sarah Carr failed, and he thereafter, married Annie McLennon, the twin sister of Medal of Honor recipient and fellow 7th Infantry soldier at the Big Hole, Musician John McLennon.
Wilson died in the Lawrence Park area of Erie in 1924 and as a widower.
At the time Wilson’s grave was located, it was marked only with a “Civil War” style government tablet, long since fallen to the ground, its marble worn by weather. The stone bore no recognition of his Medal of Honor status. The new gravestone now bears fitting remembrance and tribute to Sgt. Wilson’s gallant service and heroism of over one hundred twenty five years ago.