James Wiley was born in 1835 in Ohio. He enlisted as a Private in Company B, 59th New York Infantry, at Bellville, Ohio, on September 20, 1861, and he was mustered into Federal service with his unit in November 1861. After training in New York, he was assigned with his unit to the defense of Washington, D.C., until July 1862, and then to II Corps of the Army of the Potomac from July 1862 until he was captured and taken as a Prisoner of War on June 22, 1864. During this time, Sgt Wiley fought in the Battle of Antietam on September 17, 1862; the Battle of Fredericksburg from December 11-15, 1862; the Battle of Chancellorsville from April 30 to May 6, 1863; the Battle of Gettysburg from July 1-3, 1863; the Battle of the Wilderness from May 5-7, 1864; the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House from May 8-24, 1864; the Battle of Cold Harbor from May 31-June 12, 1864; and the Siege of Petersburg from June 9, 1864, until he was captured during the fighting at Jerusalem Plank Road on June 22, 1864. 1st Sgt Wiley was sent South to the Confederate Prison at Camp Sumter, near Andersonville, Georgia, and he died there on February 7, 1865, having never known he was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions at the Battle of Gettysburg on July 3, 1863. James Wiley is buried at Andersonville National Cemetery.
His Medal of Honor Citation reads:
The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pride in presenting the Medal of Honor to 1st Sergeant James Wiley, United States Army, for extraordinary heroism on 3 July 1863, while serving with Company B, 59th New York Infantry, in action at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, for capture of flag of a Georgia regiment.