Private Ziba Wilson: “An American soldier known but to God”

Published 10:00 pm Friday, April 21, 2017

Editor’s Note: This is the third installment of a series of articles about Polk County veterans of WWI whose names are listed on the Doughboy Monument in Columbus.

Ziba Wilson was born in the Sunny View community on April 15, 1895, the son of Thomas Nesbitt Wilson and Nancy Ann Ruff Wilson. One of 13 children, he was given the name Ziba, which is found in 2 Samuel 9:2. Polk County’s Doughboy Monument incorrectly lists his name as “Zibo,” which may have been a nickname. 

Ziba Wilson

Ziba Wilson registered for the draft in Mill Spring on June 5, 1917. He was 22 years old, slender and tall, with blue eyes and dark hair. He stated that he suffered from “nervous” indigestion and claimed an exemption without stating the grounds. He was drafted and was inducted into the U.S. Army at Tryon on September 18, 1918. He proceeded to Camp Jackson (now Fort Jackson) in South Carolina with other recruits for initial training and then deployed to France, arriving on May 12, 1918 with Company E, 120th Infantry Regiment, 30th “Old Hickory” Division.

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Private Wilson was reported “missing in action” near Bellicourt, France during the Battle of St. Quentin Canal, on the formidable German Hindenburg Line, September 29, 1918, a Sunday morning. His remains were never found, even when a search was made of “every trench and dugout.” His name is included in the list of 333 soldiers on “The Tablets of the Missing” at the Somme American Cemetery. Perhaps his last resting place is marked by one of the 138 white marble crosses that bear the inscription, “Here Rests in Honored Glory an American Soldier Known But To God.” 

Preacher John Arledge

Word of Ziba Wilson’s death was reported on November 15, 1918 in the Polk County News. He was described as “…a devoted member of Cooper Gap Church and was loved by all that knew him…He gave his life in the famous charge of September 29.” A memorial service was held at Cooper’s Gap Baptist Church on Sunday, June 29, 1919, with the very well known Reverend John B. Arledge “preaching the funeral.”

– article submitted by Alan Leonard