Maj William Henry Harrison Mapes

Maj William Henry Harrison Mapes

Lockport, Niagara County, New York, USA
Death 22 Feb 1932 (aged 94)
Emporia, Lyon County, Kansas, USA
Burial Emporia, Lyon County, Kansas, USA
Plot Section 30 - Lot 19 - Space 5
Memorial ID 107335058 · View Source
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Son of Col. Isaac Dudley Mapes and Margaret Moore. Married to Harriet Elizabeth Wiley on 06 Jun 1861.

The Emporia Gazette, 30 May 1923, Wednesday; excerpt reprinted on 05 Jun 1930


W. H. Mapes enlisted in the Union army at Lockport, N.Y., in April, 1861, in Company C, 28th New York Volunteer rifle regiment, and was commissioned a captain by Governor Morgan, of New York. He was mustered into the service of the state April 29, and into the United States service May 22, enlisting for two years. The men were drilled for a couple of weeks at Albany, then went to Washington and were sent to Shenandoah valley under General Patterson. General Banks succeeded Patterson after the first battle of Bull Run. Major Mapes was on Banks' staff for a time, then was put in command of a regiment as its captain. He participated in the battles of South Mountain and Antietam, then was mustered out of the service, his two years having expired May 22, 1863.

Major Mapes then raised a cavalry regiment with what was left of his old regiment as a nucleus, probably half of the men having been killed or disabled. He was taken prisoner in battle at Regram's farm, September 30, 1864, when 2,000 Union men were captured. The men were taken first to Libby prison, where they were kept two or three weeks, then to Salisbury, N. Car., where they stayed about the same length of time, then to Danville, Va., where they were kept in close confinement all winter. Asked to the greatest hardship experienced in prison, Major Mapes answered in one word, "Starvation." The food was scanty and consisted of little black beans and cornbread, issued every two days, the slabs of bread, about two by two by six inches in size, made of meal ground cobs and all. This unvaried died caused scurvy, from which men died by hundreds. Some of the men had a little money which they succeeded in concealing from the guards and Major Mapes one day bought from a huckster a good-sized bunch of onions for which he paid .75 cents. He found a loose brick in the wall, took out some bricks from the inside, put in the hole his precious store of onions, and carefully replaced the outer brick. Every night after his comrades were asleep, he would go to the wall, remove the outer brick, reach in and get one onion--only one, were it large or small--and eat it. That onion a day saved him much suffering, says the Major, though scurvy finally got him, settling in his feet. Ever since he has been troubled with recurrent attacks of the disease, which once it fastens itself on a man, stays with him all his life. Sanitary conditions were bad, but the men were privileged to go to the river for water, and Major Mapes always was a volunteer for this duty, and always took a bath in the river when he had a chance. Graybacks were numerous and were hungry. The guards usually were not abusive unless the prisoners were gamey.

The prison was warmed by a big coal stove, there was plenty of coal, and the men didn't suffer from cold during the day. But their clothing was in tatters, the bedding was scanty, and the nights were cold. Major Mapes was paroled and got his exchange papers early in '65, and rejoined his regiment under Sheridan. After the surrender, the regiment was ordered into Buckingham and Cumberland counties, Virginia, to protect the people from the bands of highwaymen that infested that section. These outlaws were both Northern and Southern soldiers, as well as man from both sides who carried on a guerilla warfare all through the war. The original Ku Klux Klan was organized to protect the people from these robbers, and did good work, but disbanded after order was restored. Then, says Major Mapes, a lot of disreputables organized for pillage and other outlawry, using the same name, and casting the reflection of their bad character on the first organization.

Major Mapes took part in five or six of the great battles of the War of the Rebellion, and was in innumerable skirmishes, fighting more or less every day for weeks at a time. He served under Patterson, Banks, Slocum, Grant, Thomas, McClellan and Sheridan. He was promoted to Major in February, 1864, and refused a promotion to colonel, as he would rather command a battalion than a regiment much of the time. For a year he was in command of a pioneer corps, which opened the railroad between Jackson and Alexandria, Va., and built two bridges. Two carpenters were furnished by the government for the bridge building.

The most severe fighting in which Mr. Mapes had a part was at Antietam. More men were killed in one day on both sides than in any other battle in the Civil War. Major Mapes visited the battlefield of Antietam in 1921, the guest, with others, of the state of New York, having been delegated by that state to assist in the dedication of her monument to her sons who fell there. New York's contribution to this battle was 67 regiments of infantry, five of cavalry, 14 batteries of artillery, and two regiments of engineers. The number of killed or wounded, captured or missing men at this time missed 3,765.

The first tablet on the beautiful New York monument at Antietam bears the dedicatory inscription, the second tablet contains the names of 27 corps, division and brigade commanders, the third tablet bears the name of 103 (163?) captains and lieutenants, among which is the name of Major Mapes. The fourth tablet has the name of 67 captains and lieutenants, all of whom were killed or mortally wounded in the conflict. A report of the New York Monuments Commission, which is in possession of Major Mapes, is a highly interesting document.

Mr. Mapes was a contractor in the employ of his state at the time of his enlistment, and had under his construction a big dam at Lockport. He liked army life and was tempted to enlist in the regular army after the close of the Civil war but Mrs. Mapes wished him to come home and he yielded to her wishes. He never was wounded in battle and his health, except for his prison experiences, was remarkably good. He was in many tight places, where he might expect a bullet to hit him any instant, but he always came through uninjured.

Mr. Mapes now lives at 902 Union.

The Emporia Weekly Gazette, 26 Jan 1928


William H. Mapes, 902 Union, who is known to all Emporia as Major Mapes, was 90 years old Thursday. He has lived in Lyon county since 1878 when he and Mrs. Mapes came to Kansas and bought a ranch 6 1/2 miles south of Emporia. The first wagon track from Cole creek to his farm was made by Major Mapes and this trail has become state highway No. 11 between Olpe and Emporia.

"When my wife and I came to Kansas we had never lived on a farm," said Major Mapes Thursday. "We bought the farm, built a house, and never enjoyed life more than while we were there. I always liked good cattle and horses. I had some fine cattle and always managed to make a little money each year.

"There were no fences when we started into the cattle business and a man could ride three hours without seeing more than three houses. In 13 or 14 years when I quit the cattle business, nearly every section of land had been fenced."

Major Mapes carried his ninety years lightly and only his white hair, mustache, and beard, give evidence of his advanced years. His broad square unstooped shoulders and military carriage are evidence of his service in the Union army during the Civil war.

"I don't talk much about the war," he said. "My record was satisfactory."

Major Mapes organized a New York infantry company at the beginning of the war, and before the conflict was over he had been promoted to the rank of major of the First Battalion 2nd New York Mounted Rifles. The major held commissions during the war under Governor Morgan and the two succeeding governors of New York. For six months he was a prisoner of war in a Confederate camp.

"I was born in Niagara county, N.Y. January 19, 1838, and when I was a boy I could lie in bed and hear the falls roar 20 miles away," said Major Mapes. "I used to be a millwright in my younger days. We built mills from Canada to the southern states. In 1859 I helped build a flour mill in Charleston when it was worth a man's life to work there. They were preparing for the Civil war and a man had to be careful what he said and did.

"When I came back from the war in '65 everything was being made in steel so I quit the mill work and decided to come to Kansas.

"Yes, I have seen some hard times and some good times but I have never enjoyed life more than after I came to Lyon county. We would have stayed on the farm longer but my wife's health failed. When I lost her 16 years ago, I lost the best friend I ever had."

Major Mapes served as a county commissioner for 12 years, leaving that office 15 years ago.

"I had lots of fun on that job," laughed the Major with a twinkle in his eyes, which refused to recognize the ninetieth anniversary which the major was so thoroughly enjoying. "We had some Populists then and one time there were two Democrats on the board with me. I was a Republican but we all got along all right so long as everyone worked for the common good. It doesn't make any difference to me what a man's religion or politics is, so long as the man is all right."

Last evening at 6:30 o'clock, Mr. and Mrs. A. A. Zimmerman, who live in the Mapes home, entertained a small group of friends with a chicken pot pie, which is Mr. Mape's favorite dish, in honor of the major's birthday.

Emporia Gazette February 23, 1932...died at 4 o'clock at Monday afternoon at his home 902 Union after a long sickness. Obit said he was a member of St. Mark's Lutheran Church.

New York, Civil War Muster Roll Abstracts, 1861-1900 about William H Mapes

Name: William H Mapes
Age: 26
Birth Year: abt 1838
Enlistment Year: 1864
Enlistment Location: Buffalo, New York
Muster Year: 1864
Separation Details: Muster Out of Service
Separation Date: 10 Aug 1865

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  • Created by: Becky Doan
  • Added: 26 Mar 2013
  • Find a Grave Memorial 107335058
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Maj William Henry Harrison Mapes (19 Jan 1838–22 Feb 1932), Find a Grave Memorial no. 107335058, citing Maplewood Memorial Lawn Cemetery, Emporia, Lyon County, Kansas, USA ; Maintained by Becky Doan (contributor 46821009) .