William G. Hills was born June 26, 1841, at Conewango, Cattaraugus County. On October 1, 1861, he enlisted at age 21 at East Randolph to serve three years and was mustered in six days later as a Private in Company E of the 9th New York Cavalry. He was mustered out with his company on October 27, 1864. His Medal of Honor, which was issued on September 26, 1893, was awarded for his action at North Fork, Virginia, on September 26, 1864, when he “voluntarily carried a severely wounded comrade out of a heavy fire of the enemy.” The comrade rescued by Hills, interestingly, was Joel H. Lyman, who also was awarded a Medal of Honor (see below).
Lyman described his rescue by Hills in the book Deeds of Valor, edited by W. F. Beyer and O. F. Keydel (Detroit: The Perrien-Keydel Company, 1907), volume 1, page 423: “During our campaign in the Shenandoah Valley we reached Harrisburg, Va., on September 25, 1864, and on the day following we met the enemy’s cavalry and drove them to the North Fork of the Shenandoah. When we arrived at the brow of the hill overlooking the river, which was quite narrow and fordable, we could see Early’s infantry drawn up in line on the opposite side. Supposing that our object was to capture the enemy’s train, I galloped down the slope, but had not gone twenty rods when I was knocked from my horse by a musket ball from the rebel rifle pits, which were hidden from my view by the willow trees bordering the opposite bank. The regiment had been ordered back and I found myself alone and helpless, the enemy’s bullets ploughing up the ground and throwing dirt all over me. Seeing my dangerous position, William Hills drove the spurs into his horse and galloped to the spot where I lay. Then coolly dismounting he lifted me to my saddle, mounted his own horse and supported me from the field, amid a veritable hail of bullets. It seemed as if the whole rebel army had concentrated its fire upon us. For genuine pluck and comradeship I never in my three years of active service saw anything to compare with this deed.”
Submitted by CAMP members.