Edward Alexander Holton MOH

b. 28/08/1835 Westminster, Vermont. d. 29/01/1906 Bernardston, Massachusetts.

DATE OF MOH ACTION: 16/04/1862 Lee’s Mills, Virginia.

Born in Westminster, Vermont on August 28, 1835, Edward Alexander Holton was a son of Erastus Alexander and Hannah Brainard (May) Holton.

In 1850, he resided in Westminster with his widowed mother and brothers, David and Joel. Also residing at the family home were boarders, John Farewell, Julia Alby and Clarissa Farewell.

Holton was one of the early responders to President Abraham Lincoln’s call for volunteers to help defend the nation’s capital following the fall of Fort Sumter at the dawn of the American Civil War. Choosing to enlist from his place of birth – Williston, Vermont, he enrolled for military service on May 2, 1861 as a member of Company H, 1st Vermont Infantry. After honorably completing his Three Months’ Service, he mustered out on August 15, 1861.

He then promptly re-enlisted for a three-year tour of duty, enrolling on August 28, 1861 as a first sergeant with Company I, 6th Vermont Infantry. During the fall of 1861, he was stationed with his regiment at Camp Griffin, Virginia.

It was in the spring of 1862 that Holton performed the act of valor for which he would later be awarded the U.S. Medal of Honor. On April 16, while fighting with the 6th Vermont at Lee’s Mills, Virginia during the Siege of Yorktown, Holton rescued the national colors after his regiment’s color-bearer fell in action after being shot. The next day, Holton was promoted to the rank of second lieutenant by Brigadier-General W. T. H. Brooks, and he and his regiment were praised for their performance by Brooks via General Order No. 36.

Holton then participated with his regiment in the Peninsula Campaign in Virginia, including the Battle of Williamsburg (May 5, 1862), and the Seven Days Battles at: Golding’s Farm (June 27–28, 1862), Savage’s Station and White Oak Swamp (June 29–30, 1962); in the Maryland Campaign, including the battles of: South Mountain (September 14, 1862) and Antietam (September 17, 1862); and in the Second Battle of Bull Run (August 28–30, 1862), Battle of Fredericksburg (December 11–15, 1862), Second Battle of Fredericksburg/Marye’s Heights (May 3, 1863), and Battle of Salem Church (May 3–4, 1863).

On May 5, 1864, Holton became a casualty himself, wounded seriously while fighting with the 6th Vermont Infantry in the Battle of the Wilderness. Ten days later, while recuperating from his wounds, he was commissioned as a captain with his regiment. He was then honorably discharged on a surgeon’s certificate of disability on August 17, 1864, and sent home to his family in Vermont.

Following his honorable discharge from the military, Holton returned home to his wife. By 1870, they had relocated to the community of Lee, Massachusetts in Berkshire County. Employed at a Pennsylvania mill, according to the federal census which was conducted on July 2 that year, his household had grown to include daughter Katherine May (1865–1942) and son Charles (1868–1939).

Residing in Burlington, Vermont with his wife in 1890, he was then widowed by her the following year after she developed acute peritonitis and succumbed to that condition in Colrain, Massachusetts on November 3, 1891. Still a widower after the turn of the century, Holton resided with his son, Charles — a physician, at his home in Bernardston, Massachusetts.  Six years later, Edward A. Holton died in his sleep at the age of 70 at his son’s Bernardston residence on January 26, 1906.



Rescued the colors of his regiment under heavy fire, the color bearer having been shot down while the troops were in retreat.