Wilson Smith, who was born on Sept. 7, 1841in Oriskany Falls and died Feb. 22, 1901 in Rome, N.Y., received the prestigious Medal of Honor around 1896 for his duty during the Civil War.
The company was honored as follows:
“General Order No. 37: Then general commanding this department desires to express his approbation of the conduct of Captain Riggs’s battery of light artillery of the Third New York Volunteers, in the attack on Washington, NC and particularly the conduct of Corporal Wilson Smith and the gunners manning the gun at the intersection of First and Bridge Streets, who stood to their guns until every man was shot down. The General accepts this as an augury of what may be expected of the battery on future occasions. By command of Major-General J.G. Foster, James H. Strong, Lieutenant and acting Assistant Adjutant-General.”
For this action Smith was awarded the Medal of Honor around 1896. The citation echoes the Major-General’s sentiment:
“Took command of a gun (the lieutenant in charge having disappeared) and fired the same so rapidly and effectively that the enemy was repulsed, although for a time a hand-to-hand conflict was had over the gun.”
Smith’s injuries from the hand-to-hand combat forced his discharge from the military in February 1863. He would return home to Central New York after spending time in Ohio and West Virginia.
He lived in Oneida, employed by the casket factory. Smith served as a County Supervisor before moving to Rome in 1879. He spent the remainder of his life in Rome dying on Feb. 22, 1901, and is buried in Rome Cemetery.
Over the next few months I will feature the four Medal of Honor recipients who have roots in Madison County.
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Matthew Urtz is the Madison County Historian. He can be reached at 366-2453 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Urtz’s sources for this article can be found at madisoncountynyhistory.com.