Gilbert Conwall Wiltse was born in New York on November 29, 1838. He was appointed to the Naval Academy from New York, and graduated on September 20, 1855. He became a midshipman on June 9, 1859, and was ordered to the frigate, Congress, the flagship of Admiral JS Sands, cruising on the Brazilian Station from 1859 to 1861. He was made Lieutenant on Aug. 31, 1861 and participated in naval war operations during the Civil War.
He was promoted to Captain on Jan. 20, 1887; he was assigned to the command of the USS Boston in 1891, and was in command of the Boston when the Hawaiian revolution occurred. At the request of United States Minister Stevens, he landed a detachment of marines. Following that, Captain Wiltse returned to New York City and died at his home, on April 26, 1893.