Matthew Whitaker Ransom

Contributed by: Diane Siniard

Name: Matthew Whitaker Ransom 
State Served: North Carolina  
Highest Rank: Brig-Gen  
Birth Date: 1826 
Death Date: 1904 
Birth Place: Warren County, North Carolina 
Army: Confederacy  
Promotions: Promoted to Full Lt Colonel (1st NC Inf)
Promoted to Full Colonel (35th NC Inf)
Promoted to Full Brig-Gen  


Lieutenant colonel, First North Carolina Infantry.
Colonel, Thirty-fifth North Carolina Infantry, , 1862.
Brigadier general, P. A. C. S., June 13, 1863.
Major general, 1865.


Brigade composed of the Twenty-fourth, Twenty-fifth,
Thirty-fifth, Forty-ninth and Fifty-sixth North Carolina
Regiments Infantry, Longstreet's Corps, Army of Northern

Source: General Officers of the Confederate States of America

Brigadier-General Matthew Whittaker Ransom was born in Warren
county, N. C., in 1826. His father was Robert Ransom, who was
descended from a colonial Virginia family of Gloucester
county. His mother was Priscilla West Coffield Whittaker,
whose lineage is traced to Alexander Whittaker, the English
clergyman who baptized Pocahontas.

He was graduated at Chapel Hill, the State university, in
1847, and was soon afterward admitted to the practice of law.
The remarkable ability which he at once displayed led to his
election five years later as attorney-general of the State.

This office he resigned in 1855 to return to general practice.
Three years later he was called upon to represent his district
in the legislature, and was re-elected twice, serving until
1861. In the latter year he was sent by North Carolina as a
peace commissioner to the provisional congress at Montgomery.

At the organization of the First regiment of infantry, at
Warrenton, June 3, 1861, he was commissioned lieutenant-
colonel. Subsequently he was appointed colonel of the Thirty-
fifth regiment, of Robert Ransom's brigade. With this command
he participated in the Seven Days' battles before Richmond,
and was particularly distinguished in the repulse of a night
attack June 25th, and in the attack on Malvern hill, where his
regiment suffered severely and he was twice wounded, so that
he had to be carried from the field.

He was again on duty with his regiment in the Maryland
campaign, and during part of the battle of Sharpsburg had
temporary command of the brigade, repelling a Federal assault,
and pursuing the enemy and inflicting such punishment that no
further attack was made in that quarter during the day.

After the battle of Fredericksburg he served at Wilmington and
other points in North Carolina, and being promoted brigadier-
general took command of the brigade formerly led by Robert

He held the Suffolk line during the Gettysburg campaign, and
in the latter part of July defeated the enemy's advance toward
Weldon. He continued to serve in North Carolina during 1863,
participated in the capture of Plymouth, defeated the enemy at
Suffolk March 9, 1864, and then fought with Beauregard before
Petersburg, with Longstreet on the north side of the James,
and in Bushrod Johnson's division on the Crater line.

During the latter part of 1864 he was in command of this
division, comprising his own brigade and those of Wise, Gracie
and Wallace. In the famous assault upon the Federal works on
Hare's hill, March 25, 1865, he commanded two brigades, whose
service was particularly complimented by General Lee.

He was again in battle at Five Forks, and finally surrendered
with Lee at Appomattox.

After the close of hostilities he resumed the practice of law
and engaged in planting, until 1872, when he was elected to
the United States Senate, where he served by re-election a
continuous period of twenty-four years.

As a member of this exalted body he rendered efficient service
to his State, and while retaining the affections of the people
of whom he was part, gained the respect and admiration of the
representatives of the whole nation.

As a forcible and elegant public speaker and a wise councilor
he held a high position during his public career in the
Democratic party. In the second administration of President
Cleveland he served as minister to Mexico, succeeding ex-
Governor Gray, of Indiana.

Source: Confederate Military History, vol. V, p. 343

Back to North Carolina Veterans of the Civil War

Back to NC in the Civil War Home Page

© 2005-2011  Diane Siniard