William Lord Wakefield

Army Badge
  • Name: William Lord Wakefield
  • Location of Birth: Steuben, Maine
  • Date of Birth: August 23, 1833
  • Date of Death: June 12, 1903 (69 years old)
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  • Branch: Army
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  • Date Sworn In: 1861
  • Place Sworn In:
  • Date of Discharge: 1864
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  • Wars Involved:
    Civil War

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  • Civilian Life:
    Information from Itasca County Independent Newspaper, dated June 20, 1903:
    "A Soldier Mustered Out.
    William Lord Wakefield, of Libby, Minn., one of the pioneers of the state, an early resident of Grand Rapids, Minn. and a survivor of the Old First Minnesota, died at Minneapolis, on Friday, June 12th. And when Taps sounded for him, there passed from earth as brave a soldier, as honest a man, and as kindly a gentleman as ever this world gave birth to.
    From 1855 to the day of his death Mr. Wakefield was a citizen of this state, having been engaged in lumbering, and mercantile business during all that time, excepting the years of the civil war which he devoted to the service of his country; and in all that time he made no enemy of any honest man nor wronged a living soul. He was one of the first to enlist in the First when the news came of the firing of Sumter and served with it for more than three years, being finally discharged for sickness. He was member of Co. E. of which Judge Lochren and many other well-known Minnesotans were members and participated in the greatest feat of arms done by mortal men since war first begun on earth--the charge of the Old First at the crucial battle of Gettysburg, which under Divine Providence, saved the battle and the life of this Republic. "Thermopylae had its messengers of defeat: The Alamo had none." Our heroes had 47 messengers of victory out of the 252 men who charged a division to gain five minutes time and who brought back with them a battle gained, and a country saved, but their story, said (sad) to say, is but locally known today."

    Information from Aitkin County Historical Society with the year 1903 noted on them:

    W. L. Wakefield Dead
    A telephone message was received from Minneapolis last Friday morning by J. W. Wakefield announcing the death there at the home of a sister, Mrs. Libby, of his brother William L. Wakefield. Mr. Wakefield had been suffering from cancer of the stomach for some time, and for the past two months was unable to take any solid food whatever, enduring untold agony and torture. The funeral took place at Minneapolis Sunday.
    Mr. Wakefield has a host of friends, who will miss the kindly face and warm friendly handclasp of a true comrade, good neighbor and loyal citizen.
    William Lord Wakefield was born in the town of Steuben, Maine on August 23, 1833. He received a common school education, and came to Minnesota in 1855, locating in St. Anthony which was then lumbering headquarters, and that business he followed until 1861, when he was one of the first to enlist in the First Minnesota regiment, at first for three months and later for three years, but owing to sickness contracted in the war and from which he never recovered, he received his discharge shortly before the term of his service expired. He served in the same company with Judge William Lochren, late pension commissioner and now judge of the United States District and Circuit Court, who was lieutenant of the company. He participated in that awful charge at Gettysburg, when his company went into the fight 268 strong and came out of it with only 47 men. From 1870 to 1876 he conducted a store on the White Earth reservation, and for six years subsequently was associated with Herm Leighton in the logging industry. When the government dam and reservoir was built at Sandy Lake he located at that point and has since then made that his home. He was fairly well endowed with this world's goods and leaves one son, E. P. Wakefield, with whom he was associated in business.
    He was always a Republican in politics, having stood with that party from its birth until his death.

    Gone to His Rest
    W. L. Wakefield of Sandy Lake Passes Away on Friday Morning.
    The many friends of W. L. Wakefield of Sandy Lake were very much pained to learn on Friday the unwelcome news that (the) gentleman had died that morning at Minneapolis, where he had been taken by his son. E. P. for medical treatment several weeks ago. Mr. Wakefield had been feeling poorly previous to going to Minneapolis, and after he had been there some time the physicians diagnosed the case as cancer of the stomach, and he kept gradually failing. His brother, J. W. Wakefield, went down to visit him last week, and when the latter came home on Thursday there was no expectation that the end would come so soon. He died at the home of his sister, Mrs. Libby, and another sister, Mrs. Foster of Big Rapids, Michigan, was also present.
    Mr. Wakefield was born at Steuben, Maine, and had he lived until the 23rd of August next he would have been seventy years old. He came to Minnesota in 1855 and worked at his trade of millwright for several years. When the war broke out he enlisted in the First Minnesota and was one of the 268 men who have been immortalized by their famous charge at Gettysburg. Of the men who made this charge only forty-seven answered roll-call next morning, and strange as it may seem, Mr. Wakefield did not even receive a scratch in this engagement.
    After the war he returned to Minnesota and conducted a grocery at White Earth. In 1874, he engaged in logging on Bear River, and when the government began the construction of the upper river dams about fifteen years ago he moved to Sandy Lake, and there he has resided ever since conducting a general store, of late years in company with his son, E. P., former county commissioner.
    Mr. Wakefield was a kindly gentleman, and was very highly esteemed by a large circle of friends, and his periodical visits to Aitkin will be missed. His wife died many years ago, and he is survived by his son Ed, one brother, J. W. of this village and two sisters, Mrs. Libby of Minneapolis and Mrs. Foster of Big Rapids, Michigan. The funeral was held last Sunday at Minneapolis and the remains were interred in a cemetery in that city.

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