Stephen Dodson Ramseur

Contributed by: Diane Siniard

 Name: Stephen Dodson Ramseur 
State Served: North Carolina  
Highest Rank: Major-Gen  
Birth Date: 1837 
Death Date: 1864 
Birth Place: Lincolnton, North Carolina 
Army: Confederacy  
Promotions: Promoted to Full Captain (Ellis Light Arty)
Promoted to Full Colonel (49th NC Inf (est day))
Promoted to Full Brig-Gen
Promoted to Full Major-Gen  

Major, Tenth North Carolina Artillery (State troops),
August 20, 1861.

Colonel, Forty-ninth North Carolina Infantry, April 12,

Brigadier general, P. A. C. S., November 1, 1862.

Major general, P. A. C. S. (temporary rank), June 1, 1864.

Died October 20, 1864, from wounds received at Cedar Creek
on October 19, 1864.


Brigade composed of the Second, Fourth, Fourteenth and
Thirtieth North Carolina Regiments Infantry, D. H. Hill's
Division, Army of Northern Virginia.

Division composed of the brigades of Pegram, Johnston and
Godwin, Army of Northern Virginia.

Ramseur, Stephen Dodson, born in North Carolina, appointed
from North Carolina cadet United States Military Academy, July
1, 1855; graduated fourteenth in a class of forty-one.

Brevet second lieutenant, Third Artillery, July 1, 1860.

Second lieutenant, Fourth Artillery, February 1, 1861.

Resigned April, 1861.

Source: General Officers of the Confederate States of America

Major-General Stephen Dodson Ramseur was born May 31, 1837, at
Lincolnton, 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, in command 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 Burnside, 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

General Ewell alluded to this movement in his official report
as "a charge of unsurpassed gallantry." T hough 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.

Source: Confederate Military History, vol. V, p. 341 

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