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Brigadier-General William F. Draper, U.S.V.
Brevet Brigadier-General William F. Draper, U.S.V.
Brevet Brigadier-General William F. Draper was born in Lowell, Mass.,
April 9, 1842. His parents were George and Hannah Thwing Draper, both now
deceased. George Draper was a remarkable man for strength of character,
energy, and intellect, and left a record of usefulness excelled by few of
his contemporaries. One of his ancestors, Major Abijah Draper of Dedham,
fought in the Revolutionary War.
His eldest son, William, received an education for Harvard University.
This was interspersed with periods of labor in machine-shops and
The war changed his plans, and on the 9th of August, 1861, he enlisted in
a local volunteer company that George Draper was instrumental in raising.
This company became Company B of the Twenty-fifth Massachusetts, and
William F. Draper was chosen second lieutenant. His war experience
extended over nearly four years' campaigning. First, in the Burnside
Expedition he became signal-officer on the general's staff, engaging in
the battles of Roanoke Island, New-Berne, and Fort Macon when he was
promoted first lieutenant and returned to his regiment. In August, 1862,
he was commissioned captain in the Thirty-sixth Massachusetts, and joined
his regiment just after the battle of South Mountain, Maryland. With the
Thirty-sixth he went through the rest of the Antietam campaign and battle
of Fredericksburg, and was then sent to Newport News. Then several months
were spent pursuing Morgan's cavalry in Kentucky.
In June, 1863, he joined Grant's army at Vicksburg, taking part in the
capture, and subsequently in the march to Jackson and the fighting in that
locality. His regiment was reduced, from fighting and sickness, from six
hundred and fifty in June to one hundred and ninety-eight in September.
During this campaign he was promoted major of the regiment.
||In August, 1863, he returned to
Kentucky, and marched through Cumberland Gap into East Tennessee.
Then the siege of Knoxville and battles of Blue Springs, Campbell's
Station, and Strawberry Plains were fought, Major Draper commanding
the regiment after the 10th of October, in the place of Colonel
Goodell, who was wounded.
In the spring of 1864 his corps was moved to Annapolis and partially
recruited, then joining the Army of the Potomac. In the battle of
the Wilderness, on the 6th of May, he was shot through the body
while leading his regiment on the top of a rifle-pit just being
captured by his men. After having been left on the field as
hopelessly wounded, and being captured by, and recaptured from, the
rebels, he was saved and sent to a hospital in Washington. He was
commissioned lieutenant-colonel from this state, and served as
colonel the rest of his service.
After partially recovering from the wound, he joined his regiment
during the siege of Petersburg, and took command of a brigade at the
Weldon Railroad engagement. A month later, at Poplar Grove Church and
Pegram Farm, his division was severely engaged and cut off from the rest.
His regiment was the only one of the brigade that came out as an
organization, and they brought back the colors of several others. He was
again wounded in the shoulder by a nearly-spent ball.
On the 12th of October his service expired, and he accepted a discharge,
as his wounds were troublesome. He was brevetted colonel and
brigadier-general for "gallant service during the war." Both regiments he
was engaged with were "fighting regiments," the Twenty-fifth Massachusetts
losing seventy per cent. of their number, killed or wounded, in one
engagement (Cold Harbor), while the Thirty-sixth Massachusetts, in the
campaign beginning with the Wilderness, had every field and line-officer,
except one, killed or wounded, and three-fourths of the enlisted men.
The war over, he then engaged in the manufacture of cotton-machinery, and
is now at the heart of the firm of George Draper & Sons, beside being
president or director in more than twenty other manufacturing, railroad,
or insurance companies, etc. He is a mechanical expert, and an inventor
with a record of fifty patents.
General Draper served for three years on Governor Long's staff, had a hot
fight for the gubernatorial nomination in 1888, and is now elected to
Congress from the Eleventh Massachusetts District, having defeated his
Democratic opponent by two thousand five hundred. He is a well-known
writer on economics, and was during the last year president of the
Source: Officers of the Volunteer Army and Navy who
served in the Civil War, published by L.R. Hamersly & Co., 1893, 419
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