Brigadier General Henry Clay Wood is one of the distinguished alumni of Norwich University who has received our nation’s highest military award, the Medal of Honor, for his service in the Civil War. Following pre-war Army service on the frontiers of Texas, he was wounded in the head at the Battle of Wilson Creek in Missouri. His valor was recognized with a Medal of Honor in 1893.
General Wood was born in Winthrop, Maine in 1832 and earned his first bachelor’s degree at nearby Bowdoin College in 1854. After dabbling first in medicine and then in law, he took an interest in military life and in 1856 became an aide-de-camp for his father, who was in command of the Maine state militia.
It was that same year that Wood decided to enhance his military knowledge by spending a short time at Norwich University. He would later receive an honorary bachelor’s degree from Norwich in 1874. Shortly after his time at Norwich, he received a commission as 2nd lieutenant in the 1st U.S. Infantry and served “among the Indians” in Texas, according to one newspaper report.
When the Civil War broke out, he served under General Nathaniel Lyon in Missouri. In the Battle of Wilson Creek, sometimes called “The Bull Run of the West,” Lieutenant Wood lost fully half of his men to injury or death. He himself was badly wounded in the head. In 1893, President Cleveland presented him with the Medal of Honor for “distinguished gallantry” in this conflict.
Wood continued his army career after the war, eventually serving as assistant adjutant general and retiring with the rank of colonel in 1896. He would later be promoted in retirement to the rank of brigadier general. He was a long-time friend and colleague of General Oliver Otis Howard, who also had a connection to Norwich through the Board of Trustees.
Wood died in 1918 and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery alongside many of his fellow Norwich heroes who served their country in the Civil War. You can learn more about him by requesting his biographical file in the Norwich University Archives, or by checking his entry in the Index to Norwich University Newspapers.