19 April 2006 by Published in: General News 2 comments

Lt. Edward B. Williston was an 1856 alumnus of Norwich University, Vermont’s version of VMI. Williston was one of those superb career Regular Army artillerists that made his mark on the American Civil War. He had a thirty-plus year career in the Regular Army and retired as a colonel with a Medal of Honor. He was awarded his Medal of Honor for his magnificent performance on the second day of the Battle of Trevilian Station, June 12, 1864.

Williston’s battery of Union horse artillery typically served with the Reserve Brigade of the 1st Division, Cavalry Corps, Army of the Potomac. On June 12, after repulsing seven determined Union attacks, Wade Hampton unleashed a savage counterattack that rolled up the Union flank and drove the Federal cavalry from the field in a wild rout. Williston actually advanced one of his guns in front of the Federal main line of battle and personally pulled the lanyard, at point blank range. In his report of the battle, Merritt wrote, “The light 12’s were magnificent,” and lavished praise on Williston and his men. Consequently, Williston was awarded the Medal of Honor without much resistance or fanfare in the 1890’s.

Norwich has commissioned Dale Gallon to depict the scene of Williston manning his guns that afternoon. I had a chat with Dale today, and offered my assistance. I will be showing him the battlefield in June, and will be providing him with most of his research material to depict the scene. My price for all of this: a copy of the print, personally signed to me. My old friend Wayne Motts was Dale’s primary research assistant for years, and knowing how thorough Wayne is, I’m sure that Dale will take pains to get every detail right. Unlike Mort Kunstler, who obviously never visited the battlefield before painting his scene, I expect Dale will get the terrain right. Kunstler, on the other hand, got the terrain all wrong in his depiction of the charge of the Citadel Rangers company of cadets of the 4th South Carolina Cavalry, led personally by Wade Hampton, on June 11.

Having worked with both Don Troiani and Don Stivers (on a depiction of the climax of Farnsworth’s Charge), I’m now very much looking forward to working with Dale to get this done as well and as accurately as possible. I think it’s going to be fun, and I think it’s going to be fascinating to compare the experience of working with him with my past two experiences working with Civil War artists.

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  1. Jim Lafferty
    Sat 07th Oct 2006 at 12:57 pm

    Just came across your posting on Williston while doing some research on my GG Grandfather, Charles Warner. Warner was a West Point grad (1862) who served for a while under Williston while with Battery D, 2nd US Artillery (mid 1862 through July 1863) before he was assigned to Battery A 4th US. There is a photo in the Library of Congress of a large group (25 or so) of artillery officers of Robertson’s artillery brigade taken at Culpeper Va., in Sept of 1863. Williston can be seen seated on a stool to the right and my GG Grandfather is seated on the ground directly at his feet.

    Jim Lafferty

  2. Alyssa Astphan
    Tue 18th Dec 2012 at 10:37 am

    As an alumnus of Norwich University (and a resident of Virginia), I should point out that VMI is Virginia’s version of Norwich. Established in 1819 by Captain Alden Partridge, Norwich is the nation’s first private military college, as well as the birthplace of Army ROTC.

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