Henry Ware Lawton – Medal of Honor Awardee

Written by: Leo Lawton

Henry Ware Lawton was born on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, 1843, in Ohio. His father, George, traveled to California in 1850 ostensibly to build mining equipment for the gold rush miners, but if the truth be known he may have sought gold himself. In 1852 while George was yet in California his wife died leaving Henry and his siblings with no parent. Henry was raised for the next several years by a Mrs. Moore.

April 16, 1861, barely 18 years of age, Henry joined Company E of the 9th Indiana Volunteers upon President Lincoln’s request to the nation. On July 21st of that same year Sergeant Lawton was mustered out, his three month tour completed after having fought several battles through West Virginia. On August 20, 1861 he joined for a second time, this time with a company of the Indiana 30th Vols. as a 1st Lieutenant. His unit fought their way through Kentucky, Tennessee, and on into Mississippi where he fought at Shiloh and Corinth. On May 7, 1862 he was promoted to captain. He fought on at Chickamauga and Chattanooga.

He saw action at Tunnel Hill, Rocky Face, Dalton, Resaca, Adairsville, Cassville, New Hope Church, Kennesaw Mountain, Smyrna Camp Ground, Chattahoochee River, and Peachtree Creek all in Georgia as part of Sherman’s march toward Atlanta.

On August 3, 1864, Lawton was in command of Company A. He led his men in an attack across open ground against the rifle pits defending Atlanta. Two other brigades were to charge at the same time, one on Lawton’s right and the other on his left. The brigade on his right was repulsed by the enemy, and the one on his left never attacked, but Lawton’s brigade captured the pits and managed to hold them against two determined attempts to retake them. That November he was promoted to Brevet Lieutenant Colonel and took command of the regiment.

For his determined action leading the men in taking the Atlanta rifle pits he was awarded a Medal of Honor for “distinguished gallantry”.

Henry Ware Lawton went on to win accolades in the Indian Wars following the cessation of hostilities of the Civil War. Lawton, Oklahoma was named after him.In the 1890s he fought at El Caney in Cuba during the Spanish American War. Yet later he lost his life as one might expect, engaged in battle in the Philippines.

Information from “Lawton – Forgotten Warrior” by Rudolph Rau was used in this presentation.