Major General Robert Ransom

Contributed by: Diane Siniard

Major General Robert Ransom

Major-General Robert Ransom was born at Bridle Creek, Warren county, N. C., 
February 12, 1828, the second son of Robert Ransom, his elder brother being 
the soldier and statesman, Matthew W. Ransom. He was graduated at the 
United States military academy in 1850, and promoted to a heutenancy in the 
dragoons. As a cadet and officer he was distinguished for splendid horsemanship 
and the practical qualities of a soldier. He was on duty at the Carlisle cavalry 
school until March, 1851, when he led a detachment of troops to Fort Leavenworth, 
Kan., thence accompanying the L of Col. B. V. Sumner to New Mexico. During the 
succeeding four years he was engaged in scouting through that territory, Arizona, 
Texas, Colorado, and Utah, until in the fall of 1854 he was detailed as instructor of 
cavalry at West Point, under Col. R. E. Lee, superintendent. With promotion to first 
lieutenant he joined the new First cavalry in 1855, and served nearly two years as 
adjutant of the regiment; at Fort Leavenworth, in the Sioux expedition, and in the 
quelling of the Kansas disturbances. In 1859 he took part in the march to the 
Arkansas river, and remained on the frontier, with promotion to captain January 31, 
1861. On May 24th, when informed of the secession of his State, he resigned, and on 
July 4th reached his native State. He was commissioned captain of cavalry, C. S. A., 
and the Ninth of the first ten regiments of State troops was organized under his 
direction near Ridgeway. Of this regiment, thereafter known as the First North Carolina 
cavalry, he was the first colonel. He started with his regiment to Virginia, October 13, 
1861, and in November commanded at Vienna, in the first encounter of the cavalry of 
the opposing armies. On March 6, 1862, he was promoted brigadier-general for the 
express purpose of organizing the cavalry of Generals Johnston and Beauregard in the 
West and Southwest, but New Bern having fallen, his destination was changed, and 
he was engaged for a time in holding in check the enemy in eastern North Carolina. 
In June, 1862, in command of a brigade of six North Carolina regiments, he was 
temporarily attached to Huger's division. His troops, though mainly new to battle, 
were distinguished both at the opening and the close of the bloody Seven Days' 
struggle. In the Maryland campaign he commanded a brigade composed of the 
Twenty-fourth,Twenty-fifth, Thirty-fifth and Forty-ninth regiments, Walker's division,
Longstreet's corps; participated in the reduction of Harper's Ferry, and was 
distinguished at Sharpsburg. In his report of the latter battle General Walker wrote:
"To Brigadier General Ransom 's coolness, judgment and skill we are in a great 
degree indebted for the successful maintenance of our position on the left, which, 
to have been permanently gained by the enemy, would in all probability have been 
to us the loss of the battle." At the battle of Fredericksburg he was in command 
of the division, and had immediate charge of the position on Marye's and Willis' 
hills, where the severest fighting of the battle occurred. He subsequently served 
with his division in North Carolina in defense of the Weldon railroad, until May, 
1863, when he was promoted major-general and given charge of the district 
including the Appomattox and Blackwater. He was in command at Richmond 
until July of that year, when he was for some time disabled by illness. In October, 
1863, he took command in east Tennessee and drove the Federals as far south 
as Knoxville, and remained in that department in command of cavalry under Longstreet 
and Buckner, until April, 1864, when he was ordered to Richmond, with the intention 
of assigning him to command of the Trans-Mississippi department. But the condition 
at the Confederate capital compelled his retention there, where he met Butler's 
operations at Bermuda Hundred and Sheridan's and Kautz's raids with the handful 
of men at his disposal. He commanded Beauregard's left wing at the battle of Drewry's 
Bluff, May i6th, and gallantly stormed the enemy's breastworks, playing a prominent 
part in the "corking up" of Butler's army. In June he took command of Early's cavalry 
in the movement against Hunter and the expedition through Maryland against 
Washington. In August he was relieved on account of illness, in September served 
as president of a court of inquiry connected with Morgan's operations in Kentucky, 
in November was assigned to command at Charleston, but was soon compelled by 
illness to abandon that post He surrendered to General Howard at Warrenton, May 
2, 1865. In the trying times following the close of hostilities he found employment as 
express agent and city marshal at Wilmington, subsequently engaged in farming until 
1878, and then accepted a position as civil engineer in charge of river and harbor 
improvements by the national government, making his home at New Bern. General 
Ransom was married in 1856 to Minnie Huntt, of Washington, who died in 1881, 
leaving eight children. In 1884 he married Katherine DeWitt Lumpkin, of Columbus, 

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