Military Wiki
Isaiah Mays
Corporal Isaiah Mays
Born (1858-02-16)February 16, 1858
Died May 2, 1925(1925-05-02) (aged 67)
Place of birth Carters Bridge, Virginia
Place of death Phoenix, Arizona
Place of burial Arizona State Hospital Cemetery, Phoenix, Arizona
Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch United States Army
Years of service 1886 - 1893
Rank Corporal
Unit 24th Infantry Regiment
Battles/wars American Indian Wars
Wham Paymaster Robbery
Awards Medal of Honor

Isaiah Mays (February 16, 1858 – May 2, 1925) was a Buffalo Soldier in the United States Army and a recipient of America's highest military decoration—the Medal of Honor—for his actions during the Wham Paymaster Robbery in Arizona Territory.


Mays was born into slavery in Virginia.[1] He joined the Army from Columbus Barracks, Ohio, and by May 11, 1889 was serving as a corporal in Company B of the 24th Infantry Regiment. On that day, he was among the troops attacked during the Wham Paymaster Robbery. The next year, on February 19, 1890, Mays was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions during the engagement.[2]

After leaving the army in 1893, Mays worked as a laborer in Arizona and New Mexico. He applied for a federal pension in 1922, but was denied. He entered the Territorial Insane Asylum, now known as the Arizona State Hospital, in Phoenix, which housed not only the mentally ill but also people with tuberculosis and those living in poverty. He died at the hospital in 1925, at age sixty-seven, and was buried in the adjoining cemetery. His grave was marked with only a small stone block, etched with a number. In 2001, the marker was replaced with an official United States Department of Veterans Affairs headstone which stated his name, service history, and his status as a Medal of Honor recipient.[1] Eight years later, in March 2009 under the care of the Old Guard Riders Inc.,[3] Cpl Mays' remains were disinterred, cremated and placed in an urn designed especially for him. On 29 May 2009, in a ceremony befitting a Medal of Honor recipient,[4] Cpl Mays was interred in Arlington National Cemetery.[5]

Medal of Honor citation

Rank and organization: Corporal, Company B, 24th U.S. Infantry. Place and date: Arizona, 11 May 1889. Entered service at: Columbus Barracks, Ohio. Born: 16 February 1858, Carters Bridge, Va. Date of issue: 19 February 1890.


Gallantry in the fight between Paymaster Wham's escort and robbers. Mays walked and crawled 2 miles to a ranch for help.[2]

See also



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