(1856 - 1890)

Population Est. 150


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Maysville's Who's Who

William May

This is the monument in William May State Park, Winsted, Minnesota

William May came from humble beginnings of Scotch-Irish stock, whose ancestors pre-dated the American Revolution. He was born in Pennsylvania. While still a child, his parents moved to Indiana where they operated a farm. At the outbreak of the 1846-1848 war with Mexico, he volunteered and served in action with the 4th Indiana Regiment.

He married a local girl, Louisa Dodd, shortly after he was mustered out at the end of the war. Somewhat later, he moved with his family to Maysville, Iowa, where he homesteaded some land and began farming again. He continued farming in Iowa until the outbreak of, the Civil War, at which time he answered the Union call for volunteers to stem the southern rebellion.

And thus, he enlisted and was assigned to Co. H, 32nd Iowa Volunteers. During his tour of duty, he participated in eight, large-size battles which various campaigns took him through Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, and finally to the battle for Nashville, Tenn.

The battle for Nashville took place on Dec. 15-16, 1864, and was a particularly vicious battle, fought under extreme weather conditions of snow, sleet, and ice. It was also a very crucial battle because on its outcome hinged the success of General Sherman's ongoing campaign in the Carolinas and Georgia, and the prospect for an early termination of the war.

That William May contributed substantially to the outcome of the battle for Nashville is evident from reading his citation for the medal of honor and first-hand accounts of the battle in which he participated.

It was Dec. 16, 1864, the second day of battle for Nashville. Up to that time it had been a see-saw operation, neither side making significant gains until a sudden probing action by the Union forces revealed a weak point in the opposing Confederate battery of Captain Alicde Bouanchaud. There was an immediate command from our side to fix bayonets and make a frontal assault on the Confederate position. As our men leapt over their trenches, they were caught by a surprise volley of Confederate rifle fire.

The sudden intensity of fire caused the Union forces to falter for a moment. It was at that point that William May ran out in front of his regiment, up to Bouanchaud's Confederate battery and grabbed the rebel flag from its bearer, crying "The flag is ours."

This timely, bold, and aggressive action so galvanized William May's comrades that in a wild rush, they followed him and in minutes overcame the Confederate position. This action was followed by the crumbling of the southern resistance in Tennessee, and the gradual destruction of the entire Confederate army in that area.

At war's end in 1865, William May was mustered out of the army again returned to Maysville, Iowa, to his farm, wife, and children. However, he was never quite satisfied with Iowa. He's heard much about Minnesota from his comrades-- all about the big woods, our lakes and streams, and the good land that was here for the taking.

And so, William May, ever the pioneer, as well as patriot and soldier, set out with his family for Minnesota sometime in 1865 or 1866. He settled in Winsted, homesteading several parcels of land, parts of which include portions of the present city of Winsted. The abstracts of any number of city landowners will attest to this fact.

He lived out his years in Winsted, a respected citizen of the community, dying Oct. 21, 1894. He lies buried, as also do his wife and children, in the Winsted Cemetery, beneath its gentle, whispering pines.

A new stone, complete with the logos of the Congressional Medal of Honor marks his grave. The original stone, now completely refurbished, honors this park with its presence and marks forever the heroic deeds of one of our forebears.

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