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General Stephen D. Ramseur

Steven Dodson Ramseur



Major-General Stephen Dodson Ramseur, Born in Lincolnton, North Carolina, May 31, 1837, first commander of the 49th NC Troops as Colonel, severely wounded at Malvern Hill, but returned to the army in the winter of 1862-63 after being promoted to Brigadier-General in October 1862, wounded again at Spotsylvania in 1864 and then as Major-General, succeeded to Early's Division, later placed at the head of the Second Army Corps, he went to the Shenandoah with Early and after playing a prominent part in the principal engagements, was captured, mortally wounded at Cedar Creek October 19, 1864.

Major-General Stephen D. RamseurCol. Stephen D. Ramseur


Major General Stephen Dodson Ramseur

Major-General Stephen Dodson Ramseur was born May 3, 1837, at Lincointon, N. C., son of Jacob A. and Lucy M. Ramseur. Among his ancestors was John Wilfong, a revolutionary hero, who fought valiantly at King's Mountain and Eutaw Springs. He was educated at the United States military academy, with graduation in 1860, and was promoted to lieutenant in the Fourth artillery. His brief service in the United States army was rendered at Fortress Monroe and Washington, D. C., and was ended by his resignation April 6, 1861, to enter the service of the Confederate States government. He was offered the command of the Ellis light artillery, of Raleigh, was commissioned major of State troops, and was ordered to Smithfield, Va. He served at Yorktown, during the siege by McClellan, incommand of artillery. Subsequently he was elected colonel of the Forty-ninth regiment of North Carolina infantry, of Robert Ransom's brigade, in which rank he won distinction during the Seven Days' battles, and was severely wounded in the fatal charge at Malvern Hill. On October 27, 1862, General Lee recommended his promotion to brigadier-general as successor to the lamented George B. Anderson, of D. H. Hill's division. With this rank he was able to take the field after the battle of Fredericksburg. At Chancellorsville he led the advance of the division, then under Rodes, and in the fight on Sunday was conspicuous for determined valor. General Lee,writing to Governor Vance, June 4th, said of his brigade: "I consider its brigade and regimental commanders as among the best of their respective grades in the army, and in the battle of Chancellorsville, where the brigade was much distinguished and suffered severely, General Ramseur was among those whose conduct was especially commended to my notice by Lieutenant General Jackson, in a message sent to me after he was wounded. At Gettysburg he rendered invaluable service at the critical period on the first day when Iverson was repulsed, turned the enemy's flank and gained possession of the town. His skill and gallantry were commended by Rodes and Ewell. During the terrific fighting of May, 1864, he, with his brigade of heroes led by Parker, Grimes, Bennett and Cox, rendered services which received the thanks of Ewell and Lee upon the field. At first in reserve, he moved at double-quick on May 7th to meet the advance of Buruside, who sought to cut off the Second corps, and drove back the enemy's line of battle half a mile. On the night of the same day by another rapid movement he saved Humphreys' right flank from a similar attack. Immediately after Hancock's successful attack on the morning of May 12th at the "bloody angle," he was ordered to drive the enemy out of the works. He instructed his men to keep the alignment, move forward slowly without firing until the order "Charge," and then not to stop till the works were cleared. Before he was able to give the word "Charge" his horse was shot under him and a ball tore through his arm, but Grimes gave the order for him at the right time, and the brigade swept everything before it, and held the works under a murderous fire, both direct and enfilade, during the whole day. General Ewell alluded to this movement in his official report as "a charge of unsurpassed gallantry." Though painfully wounded, Ramseur refused to leave the field, and on the 19th led an attack on the enemy's flank. On the 27th he was assigned to the command of the division of General Early, with the rank of major-general. After the battle of Cold Harbor, his division was the first to reach Lynchburg to relieve the siege, attacked the retreating enemy at Liberty, and following him to Harper's Ferry took part in the expedition through Maryland, the battle at Monocacy, and the demonstration against the United States capital. On the return to the Shenandoah valley he suffered a reverse at Winchester in July, though as General Rodes testified, "he acted most heroically, and as usual exposed himself recklessly." He patiently submitted to adverse criticism, and continued to fight with devotion. At the September battle of Winchester he bore the brunt of Sheridan's attack without wavering, withdrew his division in order, and repulsed the enemy's pursuit near Kernstown. At the battle of Cedar Creek, October 19th, his division had an effective part in the initial defeat of the enemy, and after the main army had fallen back, Ramseur succeeded in retaining with him two or three hundred men of his division, and Major Goggin, of Kershaw's staff, about the same number of Conner's brigade, and "these men, aided by several pieces of artillery, held the enemy's whole force on our left in check for one hour and a half, until Ramseur was shot down mortally wounded, and their artillery ammunition was exhausted." These words are quoted from General Early, who also wrote: "Major-General Ramseur fell into the hands of the enemy mortally wounded, and in him not only my command, but the country suffered a heavy loss. He was a most gallant and energetic officer whom no disaster appalled, but his courage and energy seemed to gain new strength in the midst of confusion and disorder. He fell at his post fighting like a lion at bay, and his native State has reason to be proud of his memory." He died on the day following the battle, with these last words: "Bear this message to my precious wife-I die a Christian and hope to meet her in heaven." He had been married in October, of the previous year, to Ellen E. Richmond, of Milton, and on the day before the fatal battle had been informed of the birth of a daughter.

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