Bluford Wilson

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Bluford Wilson

Bluford Wilson (November 30, 1841 – July 15, 1924) was an officer in the Civil War and government official who served as Solicitor of the United States Treasury.

Early life[edit]

Bluford Wilson was born near Shawneetown, Illinois on November 30, 1841.[1] He studied at McKendree College and the University of Michigan Law School before enlisting for the American Civil War.[2]

Military career[edit]

Wilson joined the 120th Illinois Volunteer Infantry. He soon received an officer's commission and appointment as regimental adjutant. He later served on several other staffs, including that of the XIII Corps, taking part in numerous battles and campaigns, including Champion Hill, Black River and the Siege of Vicksburg, and the Red River Campaign. He was discharged with the rank of major at the end of the war.[3]

For the rest of his life Wilson was active in the Grand Army of the Republic and the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States.[4][5]

Legal career[edit]

Wilson resumed studying law at the University of Michigan Law School, graduated in 1866, and was admitted to the bar in 1867.[6][7]

Wilson was appointed United States Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois in 1869.[8][9]

In 1874 Wilson received appointment as Solicitor of the Treasury, which he held until 1876.[10]

Wilson's rise through the ranks of federal appointed office were based in part on his family's relationship with President Ulysses S. Grant. Bluford Wilson's brother Major General James H. Wilson served on Grant's staff and as one of Grant's subordinate commanders during the Civil War.[11][12]

As Solicitor Wilson played a key role in exposing the Whiskey Ring. He conducted an investigation into the frauds, reported his findings to his superiors, and attempted through his brother James to warn President Grant. When Grant moved to protect members of his administration and prevent prosecutions, Wilson resigned.[13][14][15]

Later life[edit]

After leaving government service Wilson settled in Springfield, Illinois, where he practiced law and became involved in the construction and management of several railroads.[16][17]

During the Spanish–American War Wilson offered his services and was commissioned a Colonel in the Illinois militia, but did not see active service.[18]

Death and burial[edit]

Wilson died in Springfield on July 15, 1924.[19] He was buried at Oak Ridge Cemetery in Springfield.[20]


In 1865 Wilson married Alice Warren Mather of Louisville, Kentucky, and they were the parents of five children. Harry died in infancy. Jessie was the wife of Phillip Barton Warren. Lucy was the wife of Ralph Vance Dickerman. Bluford died during his senior year at Yale University. Arthur graduated from West Point in 1904, attained the rank of Colonel during a career that spanned the years 1904 to 1942, and received the Medal of Honor during the Philippine Insurrection.[21]


  1. ^ U.S. Passport Applications, 1795–1925, entry for Bluford Wilson, dated August 27, 1890, accessed December 4, 201
  2. ^ The Bench and Bar of Illinois, edited by John McAuley Palmer, Volume 1, 1899, pages 221 to 223
  3. ^ American Biography: A New Cyclopedia, published by American Historical Company, Inc., New York City, Volume 25, 1926, pages 43 to 45
  4. ^ Register of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States, published by the legion, 1906, page 246
  5. ^ Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois and History of Sangamon County, published by Munsell Publishing Company, Chicago, Volume II, 1912, entry for Bluford Wilson
  6. ^ General Register of the University of Michigan, published by the University, 1866, page 47
  7. ^ The 1903 Michiganensian, published by the university, 1903, page 423
  8. ^ Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States, published by U.S. Government Printing Office, Volume 17, 1901, page 195
  9. ^ The Papers of Ulysses S. Grant, by Ulysses Simpson Grant, edited by John Y. Simon, Volume 25, 2003, page 365
  10. ^ Register of the Department of Justice, published by the department, 1885, page 4
  11. ^ The Papers of Ulysses S. Grant: April 1 – July 6, 1863, by Ulysses Simpson Grant, edited by John Y. Simon, 1979, page 543
  12. ^ The Pioneer History of Illinois, 1887, page 368
  13. ^ The Class of 1861: Custer, Ames, and Their Classmates After West Point, by Ralph Kirshner and George A. Plimpton, 2008, page 134
  14. ^ Magazine article, Downfall of the Whiskey Ring, Scribner's magazine, Volume 18, Number 3 (September, 1895), page 274
  15. ^ Hamilton Fish: The Inner History of the Grant Administration, by Hamilton Fish, Volume 2, 1957, page 790
  16. ^ Newspaper article, "Arrangements for Funeral of Major Bluford Wilson," Freeport Journal-Standard, July 16, 1924
  17. ^ Newspaper article, "Is Named Receiver," Edwardsville Intelligencer, July 23, 1924
  18. ^ Philo History: Chronicles and Biographies of the Philosophian Literary Society of Mckendree College, edited by Paul and Chester Farthing, 1911, pages 74 to 76
  19. ^ Illinois Deaths and Stillbirths Index, 1916–1947, entry for Bluford Wilson, accessed December 4, 2011
  20. ^ Bluford Wilson at Find a Grave
  21. ^ Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois and History of Sangamon County, published by Munsell Publishing Company, Chicago, Volume II, 1912, entry for Bluford Wilson
Legal offices
Preceded by
E. C. Banfield
Solicitor of the United States Treasury
Succeeded by
George F. Talbot