Painted mural of a civil war battle with African American soldiers on side of long building with brown roof

Born in 1842 outside Havre De Grace in Harford County, Hilton's life and service exemplified the resilience and courage of African American soldiers who fought for the Union during the Civil War.

Enlisting in the 4th Regiment United States Colored Troops (U.S.C.T.) in August 1863, Hilton demonstrated his commitment to the Union cause. His dedication and bravery were further recognized when he was appointed Color Sergeant in May 1864, entrusted with carrying the National flag, now known as the American Flag. This position was not only symbolic but also a testament to his leadership qualities and the trust placed in him by his fellow soldiers.

The defining moment in Hilton's service came on September 29, 1864, during the Battle of New Market Heights at Chapin's Farm near Richmond, Virginia. Leading his regiment in a battle against Confederate defenses, Hilton was wounded but displayed remarkable resilience. Despite his injuries, he pressed forward, carrying the National flag with unwavering determination.

Tragically, Sergeant Hilton succumbed to his wounds on October 21, 1864, in a segregated unit of a field hospital in Hampton Roads, Virginia. His final resting place is in the Hampton National Cemetery, a site that serves as a reminder of the sacrifices made by individuals such as Hilton in the pursuit of freedom and equality.

Sergeant Hilton's sacrifice and bravery did not go unnoticed. On April 6, 1865, he was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his exceptional service. His legacy lives on as Harford County's only Medal of Honor recipient and one of 16 African American Union Army Soldiers recognized with this prestigious honor for their contributions during the Civil War.

To commemorate his memory, Harford County has two murals and a public park dedicated in his honor.


Learn more on African American History in Harford County