Cornelius Rysdorph Lape – Private, United States Army

Cornelius R. Lape, born November 25, 1843, West Sand Lake, Rensselaer, New York, and second cousin to Philip and Samuel Lape, joined the 111th NYRegiment., Co. D, at age 18. He was the son of Cornelius and Sarah Rysdorph Lape, descendants of Thomas Lape and Maria Batz. Cornelius enlisted 14 March 1864 at Galen, Wayne, New York, to serve three years.

General Grant, although anxious to confront Lee at the earliest good opportunity, preferred not to fight in the green hell of the Wilderness. On the morning of May 5, he directed his columns to push southeast through the tangled jungle and into open ground. Word arrived, however, that an unidentified body of Confederates approaching from the west on the Turnpike threatened the security of his advance. Warren dispatched a division to investigate the report.

The Confederates, of course, proved to be Ewell's entire corps. About noon, Warren's lead regiments discovered Ewell's position on the west edge of a clearing called Saunders Field and received an ungracious greeting. “The very moment we appeared,” testified an officer in the 140th New York, “[they] gave us a volley at long range, but evidently with very deliberate aim, and with serious effect.” The Battle of the Wilderness was on.

Warren hustled additional troops toward Saunders Field from his headquarters at the Lacy House. The Unionists attacked on a front more than a mile wide, overlapping both ends of the clearing. the fighting ebbed and flowed often dissolving into isolated combat between small units confused by the bewildering forest, “bushwhacking on a grand scale,” one participant called it. by nightfall a deadly stalemate settled over the Turnpike.

Three miles south along the   Plank Road, another battle raged unrelated to the action on Ewell's front. Two of A. P. Hill's divisions pressed east toward the primary north-south avenue through the Wilderness: the Brock Road. If they could seize this intersection   quickly, they would isolate Hancock's corps, south of the Plank Road, from the rest of the Union army. Grant recognized the peril and hurried one of Sedgwick's divisions to the vital crossroads. These Northerners arrived in the nick of time and later, in cooperation with Hancock, began to drive Hill's overmatched brigades west through the forest.  Fortunately for the Confederates, darkness closed the fighting for the day.

Cornelius Rysdorph Lape was wounded in action on 5 May 1864, at The Wilderness, VA. He was wounded in the “hand by a minnie ball” and was transferred to Mount Pleasant Hospital, Washington, D.C. He later developed “Pyemia following gunshot wound fracture left carpus.” He died in the hospital on 6 July 1864. Cornelius was buried at National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia.

Cornelius Lape, Sr., was born August 11, 1808, the son of William T. Lape and Margaret Ann Weatherwax. He married Sarah Rysdorph 22 Dec 1829, at Wyantskill, Rensselaer, NY. Cornelius Lape, Sr., was a shoemaker and later learned the masonry trade. Cornelius and Sarah Lape had 10 children, five of which lived to adulthood. The family originally lived in Sand Lake, Rensselaer, New York, where Cornelius was “man of very moderate circumstances.” In 1849 the family moved to Virginia with all the children. At this time,Cornelius Lape was “worth about $2000.” Most of this amount was lost in the purchase of a farm, and “in a few months the family returned to Sand Lake.”

After 1850, Cornelius Lape was reported to be a poor man. Sarah received $500 from her father, money “that was spent over a few months.” The family moved and lived in different places. They lived at Albany, Troy, Bethlehem, Buffalo, Clyde and Lyons, New York, at Pontiac, Michigan and at other places. Cornelius and Sarah developed marital
problems resulting in many separations beginning about 1863.

Cornelius R. Lape “used to bring me all of his wages before his enlistment. Once he came to Washington with horses and on his return gave me seventy ($70). After his enlistment he gave me money to buy me clothes.” (Sarah Lape)

Sarah Lape lived in Seneca Falls and Tyre, NY. In Tyre, in 1864, she “examined the intelligence of the death of her son.” She applied for a pension after the death of her son. Apparently she was not being supported by her husband, Cornelius Lape, Sr., who after several separations was reputed to have in 1863-1864 been a “dissipated man”, spent
much of his time in “liquor saloons” and had abandoned his family, never to be seen again after the “last of June, 1876.” He had apparently become distraught over the death of his youngest son and turned to the “bottle”. It is not know where Cornelius Lape, Sr., later lived and died.

Sarah Lape, after her husband did not care for her anymore, was “compelled to earn her living by her own labor.” Although she was aided to some extent by her two daughters Eleanor & Sarah, after 1876 she supported herself “by peddling notions in Geneva, in Troy and in Albany, New York, and in Port Byron, New York.” By 1880, Sarah looked for support with the “Superintendent-of-the-Poor.” She had a “wholesome dread of being sent to the Poorhouse.”

By 1888, Sarah Lape still had not received her Mother's Pension approval from the Department of the Interior.

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