Henry Wilkens was born in Germany in 1855, and later emigrated to the United States. While living in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, he enlisted in the U.S. Army and was sent out west to the frontier. He became a member of the 2nd U.S. Cavalry and eventually reached the rank of first sergeant. During the Nez Perce War, he was among the cavalry troopers which did battle with various small bands of renegade Indians hiding throughout the Idaho Territory. He was cited for bravery in two major engagements during the summer months of 1877. On May 7, Wilkens was among the soldiers who stormed Lame Deer's camp near Little Muddy Creek in the neighboring Montana Territory. Three months later, he led troops in routing the renegades at Camas Meadows in Idaho on August 20. Despite suffering a serious head injury, Wilkins remained with his company throughout the battle. This included participating in the pursuit of a captured mule train and defending his fellow soldiers when the company was surrounded by the Nez Perce for several hours. He received the Medal of Honor for both engagements on February 28, 1878. Wilkens died in Brooklyn, New York on August 2, 1895, and buried at Cypress Hills National Cemetery.
Medal of Honor citation
General Orders: Date of Issue: February 28, 1878; Action Date: May 07 & August 20, 1877; Service: Army Rank: First Sergeant; Company: Company L; Division: 2d U.S. Cavalry
The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pleasure in presenting the Medal of Honor to First Sergeant Henry Wilkens, United States Army, for bravery in actions with Indians on 7 May 1877, while serving with Company L, 2d U.S. Cavalry, in action at Little Muddy Creek, Montana, and on 20 August 1877, at Camas Meadows, Idaho.
C o p y r i g h t (C) 2 0 1 7 – H e a t h R o b i s o n / I d a h o H e r o e s . o r g