b. 1841 Natchez, Mississippi. d. 24/01/1900 Natchez, Mississippi.
DATE OF MOH ACTION: 05/08/1864 Mobile Bay, Alabama.
Brown was born in 1841 at Natchez, Mississippi, and enlisted in the Navy from his home state in March 1863. He was assigned as a landsman to the USS Hartford, the flagship of Rear Admiral David Farragut’s West Gulf Blockading Squadron.
On August 5, 1864, during the Battle of Mobile Bay, Admiral Farragut led a squadron of eighteen Union ships, including the Hartford, into the Confederate-held Mobile Bay. As the squadron came under fire from Fort Morgan, Fort Gaines, and Confederate ships, Brown and five other sailors worked on the Hartford’s berth deck loading and operating the shell whip, a device which lifted boxes of gunpowder up to the gun deck. As they worked, a Confederate shell exploded in their midst. Brown was blown through a hatch and landed unconscious on the deck below; the dead body of another man landed on top of him. The only other of the six men to survive was Landsman John Lawson, who was thrown against a bulkhead and momentarily stunned. Although wounded in the leg, Lawson refused medical treatment and returned to working the shell whip. After regaining consciousness, Brown did the same. The two men continued in their duties, keeping the ship’s guns supplied with powder, through the remainder of the battle. For these actions, both Brown and Lawson were awarded the Medal of Honor four months later, on December 31, 1864.
Brown died on January 24, 1900, at age 58 or 59 and was buried at Natchez National Cemetery in his birth city of Natchez, Mississippi. Wilson Brown is one of eight African-Americans to receive the US Navy and Marine Medal of Honor during the Civil War.
On board the flagship U.S.S. Hartford during successful attacks against Fort Morgan, rebel gunboats and the ram CSS Tennessee (1863) in Mobile Bay on 5 August 1864. Knocked unconscious into the hold of the ship when an enemy shellburst fatally wounded a man on the ladder above him, Brown, upon regaining consciousness, promptly returned to the shell whip on the berth deck and zealously continued to perform his duties although 4 of the 6 men at this station had been either killed or wounded by the enemy’s terrific fire.
BURIAL LOCATION: NATCHEZ NATIONAL CEMETERY, NATCHEZ, MISSISSIPPI.
SECTION G, SITE 3152
LOCATION OF MEDAL: NAVAL HISTORICAL CENTER, WASHINGTON NAVY YARD, WASHINGTON DC.