Louis Bowen Lawton – Medal of Honor Awardee

Written by: Leo Lawton

He was born March 13, 1872 at Independence, Iowa the son of Albert Wheeler Lawton, and grandson of Nathan Lawton the surveyor of a village in Michigan. When asked by the town’s future postmaster the name of the village Nathan remarked he did not know, so the town of Lawton, Michigan was named for him.

Nathan was the grandson of Oliver Lawton, who along with his family had moved west from Rhode Island to central New York in 1789.Louis graduated high school as the class of ’88, and entered West Point in the class of ’93. He married the former Theresa Kelsey in that same year of 1893, and they had a daughter Josephine in 1894, and another, Anna Marie in 1899. He entered the service in July 1900 as a 1st Lieutenant with the 9th U S Infantry.

The Boxer Rebellion was an anti-foreigner movement that began in northern China in 1898. Its main purpose was to force all foreigners from Chinese soil. The Righteous Harmony Society, known as Boxers by non-Chinese, believed they were invulnerable to bullets, but that did not seem to be the actual case. An eight nation force, including the American 9th Infantry, was sent to put down the rebellion. During the battle of Tientsin, where Colonel Liscum was killed, Lawton crawled on his stomach through a muddy field, where the bullets spattered like hail, to bring re-enforcement to his regiment. He was shot twice, but he kept on crawling and accomplished his mission before he collapsed. His injuries were such as to necessitate his retirement from the army, and he was promoted to the rank of major just before his retirement. The regiment took a 10% casualty loss.