Brigadier General Wilds P. Richardson

Brigadier General Wilds P. Richardson

Brigadier General Wilds P. Richardson was born on 20 March 1961 in Hunt County, Texas. He attended the U.S. Military Academy at West Point from 1880-84. After graduation, he commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the 8th Cavalry, serving in California and other western outposts. He was promoted to First Lieutenant in 1889 and joined the faculty at West Point in 1892.

In 1897, Richardson was sent to Alaska to begin what would become a twenty-year stay. He was one of the first military officers to enter the Yukon Region during the Klondike Gold Rush. With the assistance of Captain Patrick H. Ray, they prevented mass starvation of ill-prepared miners in the Circle District. Richardson and Ray took possession of the depots of provisions at Circle City in the name of the United States. The supplies were issued to those in need and later paid for by the U.S. government.

Richardson was appointed head of the War Department's Alaska Road Commission which oversaw Federal road construction projects in the Alaskan territory. One of his significant projects improved the 380-miles long trail from Valdez to Fairbanks to a road. It was later named the Richardson Highway in his honor.

After the U.S. entered World War I, Richardson, who promoted to Brigadier General in August 1917, was assigned to the 78th Infantry Brigade of the 39th Infantry Division at Camp Beauregard, Louisiana, in August March 1918. Arriving at Brest, France, on 3 September 1918, Richardson's unit participated in the war's closing stages. After the Armistice, General John J. Pershing assigned Richardson, because of his Alaskan cold weather experience, to the Polar Bear Expedition in Murmansk, Russia. The expedition was an attempted Allied intervention in the Russian Civil War. Returning to the U.S. in October 1919, Richardson reverted to the rank of Colonel and retired the following October.

Richardson lived out the remainder of his years at the Army and Navy Club in Washington DC. He died at Walter Reed Hospital on 20 May 1929 and buried at West Point.