Like many of his Norwich brethren, Edward Williston served in the Civil War. He is part of the small group of Norwich graduates who have been granted the Medal of Honor, our nation’s highest military award.
Williston was born in Norwich, Vt. in 1836. He attended NU from 1851 to 1855, leaving without completing his course (he received his degree retroactively in 1865). In 1856, he left for San Diego, Calif., to work on the ranch of his half-brother until the breaking out of the Civil War. He served with the 2nd U.S. Artillery throughout the Civil War and was awarded the Medal of Honor in 1892 for distinguished gallantry at Trevilian Station, Va.
The Battle of Trevilian Station was fought in June 1864 between the cavalry corps of the Army of the Potomac and the Army of Northern Virginia. It was the most significant all-cavalry battle of the Civil War. Alongside his trusty horse “Pony,” Williston distinguished himself in the following way, according to his Medal of Honor citation:
“In a crisis of action when our lines were being pressed by an overwhelming force of the enemy, Lieutenant Williston planted three guns of his battery in an exposed but favorable position for effective work, and then personally moved the fourth gun onto the skirmish line. Using double charges of the canister he, by his individual efforts, greatly aided in resisting successfully the charges of the enemy on our front.”
Following the Civil War, Williston continued a long career in military service. He served all across the country and the world, including in the Philippines during the Spanish American War. He retired with the rank of brigadier general in 1900.