Among them was a 74-year-old man named Berry Benson, a former sergeant wearing his old uniform and clutching the ancient rifle he never surrendered to the Union.
It's unknown whether Wilson recognized Benson, but he could have.
In the heart of Augusta, Wilson's boyhood home, stands a 76-foot-tall monument to the city's Confederate soldiers. On the corners of the monument's base are four famous generals; at the top is an anonymous soldier.
The model for that soldier was Benson.
Benson was born in Hamburg, S.C., a village that once stood on the other side of the Savannah River, near the current Fifth Street Bridge.
He joined the Hamburg Minutemen at age 17, along with his 15-year-old brother, and together they were mustered into the First South Carolina Volunteer Regiment in Charleston. He was part of the Edgefield Battery that bombarded Fort Sumter and witnessed the federal surrender of the fort in Charleston.
He saw action in several major battles, including Second Manassas and Fredericksburg in Virginia and Antietam in Maryland. He left the war to recover in Augusta after he was shot in the leg during battle in Chancellorsville, Va.
Benson returned to war in time to fight in one of the most fierce battles of the Civil War at Spotsylvania, Va.
His talent as a scout gave him many opportunities to reconnoiter and in Spotsylvania he stole a colonel's horse on impulse.
Twice he was captured and twice he escaped from Union prisons. The first escape involved swimming two miles across the Chesapeake Bay; the second found him digging a 65-foot tunnel under the prison camp in Elmira, N.Y.
He and his brother walked home to Augusta at the end of the war and never surrendered their rifles.
Benson was chosen as the model for the anonymous soldier by the Ladies Memorial Association in Augusta, which had previously erected monuments in the city's cemetery.
The base of the statue features four Confederate generals: William Henry Talbot Walker, representing Augusta; Robert E. Lee, representing the Confederacy; Thomas Jonathan "Stonewall" Jackson, representing Virginia; and Thomas Reade Roots Cobb, representing Georgia.
The base of the monument is 25 feet of Georgia granite, from which rises a 47-foot obelisk of Italian marble. It was designed by Von Gunden of Philadelphia and carved in Carrara, Italy.
On one side is an inscription that begins: "No nation rose so white and fair, none fell so pure of crime."
Total cost: $17,331.35.
The monument was dedicated Oct. 31, 1878, the same year the Confederate Survivors' Association was formed.
Even at age 79, Benson was leading Boy Scout troops into the woods on 15-mile hikes.
He died Jan. 1, 1923.