Leaders of the Maryland Department of Transportation and Maryland Transportation Authority Wednesday joined elected officials, American Legion representatives and family members to dedicate the Route 22 bridge over Interstate 95 in Aberdeen in honor Civil War veteran Sgt. Alfred B. Hilton, Harford County’s only native born Medal of Honor recipient.
“In a time when sacrifices are often forgotten, I am humbled by the opportunity to stand here today to honor a true American hero,” Maryland Deputy Transportation Deputy Secretary James F. Ports Jr. said in remarks during the dedication. “His charge into battle and the sacrifice that he made will be forever memorialized for all to see.”
The dedication was held at Alfred B. Hilton Park in Havre de Grace, a site near where Sgt. Hilton lived on his father’s farm. He was born in Harford County in 1842. The park is a couple of miles from the bridge that now bears his name.
Several of Sgt. Hilton’s descendants attended the ceremony, some coming from other states. They posed for a photograph with a portrait commemorating Sgt. Hilton that was brought to the ceremony by Rick Herbig of the Historical Society of Harford County. Also attending was Aberdeen Proving Ground senior commander Maj. Gen. Randy Taylor.
“Sgt. Hilton’s story is a fascinating and shining example of Maryland’s finest,” said MDTA Executive Director Kevin C. Reigrut, who also spoke. “What an honor it is to share his legacy and his story of bravery.”
Sgt. Hilton enlisted in the U.S. Army during the American Civil War at 21 years old. He was assigned to Company H, 4th Regiment U.S. Colored Troops and was awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously after succumbing to injuries sustained at the Battle of Chaffin’s Farm outside of Richmond, Va.
On September 29, 1864, Sgt. Hilton was a member of his unit’s color guard carrying the American Flag into battle. When the regimental color bearer was wounded, he carried the regimental colors as well. Sgt. Hilton carried both flags until he was severely wounded. He is buried in Hampton, Va.
Sgt. Hilton is one of 16 African-American Union Army soldiers who received the Medal of Honor for their service in the Civil War.
The posthumous citation for his Medal of Honor reads: “When the regimental color fell, this soldier seized the color and carried it forward, together with the national standard until disabled at the enemy's inner line.”
Aegis staff member Matt Button contributed to this report.