James Winfield Staples


Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War

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James Winfield Staples

James Winfield Staples was born on July 14, 1838 in New Bedford, Massachusetts. On December 2, 1861, he joined General Gustavus A. Scroggs' Eagle Brigade in New York City. This brigade later became the 78th Regiment New York Volunteer Infantry and James Staples was appointed Sergeant Major of the regiment on April 24, 1862.

On August 9, 1862, Sergeant-Major Staples saw his first action at the Battle of Cedar Mountain, Virginia (Cedar Mountain is about eight miles south of Culpepper on Cedar Run). After this battle, he marched north toward Warrenton, Virginia. About six miles southwest of Warrenton the regiment engaged the Confederates in skirmishes on the 24th, 25th, and 26th of August 1862. These skirmishes are referenced in the official records as "Action at Sulphur Springs" or "Action at Warrenton Springs." Six more days of marching brought the 78th New York to Manassas, Virginia, where on August 30, 1862; the Second Battle of Bull Run was fought.

After this battle, the 78th New York marched north with the Army of Virginia across the state line into Maryland to a place near where Antietam Creek joins the Potomac River near the border with West Virginia. There, on September 17, 1862, Sergeant-Major Staples fought in the Battle of Antietam. He fought well and, during the course of the battle, received a battlefield commission upon the death of Captain Peter M.T. Mitchell. On that day, he became Captain of Company I of the 78th New York Infantry Regiment. He was 24 years old at that time. He resigned his commission and was Honorably Discharged from the U.S. Army on April 4, 1863 at the Army of the Potomac's XII Corps Headquarters at Stafford Court House, Virginia.

After the war, he moved to San Francisco, California, joined the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR), and was subsequently elected as Department Commander of the Department of California. On August 4, 1886, the GAR held its 20th National Encampment in San Francisco and the San Francisco Daily Morning Call printed a special edition for the event. James Winfield Staples was referenced as a Past Department Commander in that special edition. James Staples also became a member of the California Commandery of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States, Insignia Number 1696. James Winfield Staples died on December 23, 1890 in Oakland, California and was buried in Mt. View Cemetery in that city.

Information and photograph provided by James Winfield Staples’ great-grandson, Robert H. Haley (Chief Petty Officer, U.S. Navy - Ret.), Junior Vice Commander, William B. Keith Camp #12, Department of California and Pacific, SUVCW.

James Winfield Staples