GEORGE CLARKE RIDLER IN THE CIVIL WAR
Drawn Chiefly from His Military and Pension Records
George Clarke Ridler enlisted at Red Wing, Minn., on Jan. 24, 1865 (by Capt. George H. Keith). At enlistment he was described as follows – Age: 22 years, 3 months; Height: 5 feet, 8 ¾ inches; Complexion: fair; Eyes: blue; Hair: brown; Where born: Devonshire, England; Occupation: laborer. His term of enlistment was for one year. He was originally assigned to Company L, 1st Regiment, Minnesota Heavy Artillery, but served in Company I instead. He was mustered in as a Private in Company I at Ft. Snelling in Minneapolis, Minn., on Feb. 1, 1865 (by Capt. Keith).
The regiment performed garrison duty at Chattanooga, Tenn., during the entirety of its service, and was not involved in any hostilities with the enemy. But during his time in Chattanooga, Ridler did receive what he described as a “shell wound” in his right thigh. In 1893 he stated that he had “received a wound of right leg above the knee by bursting of a shell at Chattanooga Post, Tenn.,” and that “This was during an explosion of an arsenal of captured ammunition.” The following year he also said: “I was aiding in extinguishing the fire at the arsenal & bridge when a shell exploded and struck me on right leg.” In 1899 he added more detail, stating that “the shell wound was received at Chattanooga, Tennessee, during explosion of an arsenal while [he] was ordered up to Tennessee River bridge to extinguish a fire and when passing along the levee he received the said wound.” The fire and explosion to which Ridler was referring in these accounts occurred on June 9, 1865. According to a physician’s statement in 1897, the scar of this wound was on the anterior aspect of the right thigh, six inches above the knee, and was about the size of a half dollar coin.
Ridler also stated in 1894 that he was at that time suffering from catarrh, which had been “brought on by pneumonia while in service.” In 1897 he specified that the pneumonia had been in the left lung. Military records do indicate that he was treated for pneumonia Mar. 13 to 26, 1865, after which he returned to duty.
Ridler was mustered out with his company at Nashville, Tenn., on Sept. 27, 1865.
Artillerymen of the 1st Minnesota Heavy Artillery outside Chattanooga, Tennessee
Maj. David Misener, 1st Minnesota Heavy Artillery
George Clarke Ridler was born in Topsham, Devon, England, on Oct. 18, 1842, the son James and Ann (Hall) Ridler. He emigrated to the United States with his family in 1848. In Red Wing, Minn., on Mar. 27, 1866, he married Almira Jane Blaker, born in Blue Mounds, Wis., on Feb. 23, 1849, the daughter of Mahlon and Sarah (Harrington) Blaker. George and Almira had six children: (George) William (born Feb. 3, 1867), Edith L. (“Winnie”) (born Aug. 5, 1870), Edward L. (born June 23, 1874), Frederick G. (born Oct. 21, 1876), Harry C. (born May 3, 1882), and Gertrude A. (born April 25, 1884). George died in Minneapolis, Minn., on May 30, 1921. Almira died in Amery, Wis., on June 21, 1927. They are buried together in the Amery Cemetery in Amery.
George Clarke Ridler was present at the battle of Wood Lake, Minn., on Sept. 23, 1862. This battle was a key engagement of the Sioux Uprising of 1862. In 1893 Ridler stated that “He received a wound in right thumb by the accidental discharge of a gun at the battle of Wood Lake, Minnesota.” In that same year he also said: “I have an injury to the thumb incurred by the bursting of a gun in my hand while a private scout for Genl. Sibley.” (Col. Henry Hastings Sibley – formerly the Governor of Minnesota – was the commander of the Minnesota State Militia during the Sioux Uprising. Six days after the battle of Wood Lake, Sibley was promoted to Brigadier General of Volunteers.) Ridler stated in 1899 that “the gun shot wound was received near Wood Lake, Minn., in 1862 while [he] was fighting Indians as a citizen.”
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