Stephen Dodson Ramseur


May 31, 1837 - October 20, 1864

Stephen D. Ramseur from Lincolnton, N.C., had graduated from West Point and served in the U.S. Army for less than a year when he resigned his commission just weeks before North Carolina seceded from the Union. He began his meteoric rise through the Confederate ranks as a first lieutenant in the artillery. As a colonel in April 1862, he led the 49th N.C. Infantry. Ramseur fell badly wounded while leading his men at Malvern Hill, Va., on July 1, 1862. He was promoted in brigadier general in November and assigned a brigade. On May 3, 1863, Ramseur was wounded again when he gallantly led his North Carolinians on an impressive charge that broke the Union lines during the Battle of Chancellorsville. Two months later he led two brigades at Gettysburg.

The stellar warrior took leave in October 1863 to marry. Though Ramseur firmly believed in his mission for the South and seemed to be born to lead men in battle, he longed for peace and life with his bride. Ramseur returned in time to do battle on May 12, 1864, at Spotsylvania Court House, where he was so meritorious that Gen. Robert E. Lee personally thanked him. He was promoted to major general and assigned a division.

Ramseur then joined Gen. Jubal A. Early in the Shenandoah Valley campaign. Early wrote later: "He was a most gallant and energetic office whom no disaster appaled, but his courage and energy seemed to gain new strength in the midst of confusion and disorder." Ramseur went on to fight at 3d Winchester and Fisher's Hill. On October 16, 1864, Ramseur received word he was a father, but was not told the sex of the child or the health of mother and baby. On the 19th he went into battle at Ceder Creek. While rallying his men after receiving one wound and have two horses shot from under him, he was shot through both lungs.

He was carried to the rear and with retreat necessary, Ramseur was left in Northern hands. Union doctors and a Confederate surgeon attended to Ramseur but could not save him. He was surrounded by classmates from West Point when he died the next day before ever seeing his daughter.

Fascinating Fact: At age 27 Ramseur was the youngest West Pointer in the Confederacy to achieve the rank of major general.