Caswell County Genealogy
1837 - 1864 (27 years)
||Ramseur, Stephen Dodson [1, 2] |
||Major General |
||31 May 1837
||Lincolnton, Lincoln County, North Carolina [1, 3]
||20 Oct 1864
||Saint Lukes Episcopal Church, Lincolnton, Lincoln County, North Carolina
||23 Sep 2023 |
||Ramseur, Jacob Able, b. 1 Jan 1808 d. 7 Jan 1880 (Age 72 years) |
||Dodson, Lucy Mayfield, b. 30 Sep 1812, Granville County, North Carolina d. 29 Nov 1895, Lincolnton, Lincoln County, North Carolina (Age 83 years) |
||3 Oct 1833
||Milton, Caswell County, North Carolina 
||Group Sheet | Family Chart
||Richmond, Ellen Ella, b. 28 Dec 1840, Milton, Caswell County, North Carolina d. 27 May 1900, Milton, Caswell County, North Carolina (Age 59 years) |
||27 Oct 1863
||Caswell County, North Carolina 
- Marriage Bond Record
Groom: S. Dodson Ramseur
Bride: Ellen Richmond
Bond Date: 27 October 1863
Bondsman/Witness: Charles R. Dodson, R. W. Graves (Deputy Clerk)
Married By: E. H. Harding
Location: Caswell County, North Carolina
Source: Caswell County, North Carolina Marriage Bonds, 1778-1868, Katharine Kerr Kendall (1981) at 86.
North Carolina Marriage Collection, 1741-2004
Name: S. Dodson Ramseur
Spouse: Ellen Richmond
Spouse gender: Female
Marriage Date: 27 Oct 1863
Marriage County: Caswell
Marriage State: North Carolina
Notes: S. Ramseur married Ellen Richmond on Oct 27, 1863 in Caswell, NC
| ||1. Ramseur, Mary Dodson, b. 11 Oct 1864, Caswell County, North Carolina d. 3 Feb 1935, Davidson, Mecklenburg County, North Carolina (Age 70 years) [Father: natural] [Mother: natural]|
||Group Sheet | Family Chart
||23 Sep 2023 |
- Stephen Dodson Ramseur (1837-1864)
(for larger image, click on photograph)
Stephen Dodson Ramseur monument marker: Northwest of this tablet, 800 yards, is the Belle Grove House in which died October 20, 1864, of wounds received at Cedar Creek October 19, 1864, Maj.-Gen. Stephen Dodson Ramseur, C.S.A., a native of North Carolina, he resigned from the United States Army in 1861, and entering the Confederate States Army as a lieutenant, rose to the rank of Major-General at the age of 27. Erected 1919 by the North Carolina Historical Commission and the North Carolina Division, U.D.C.
Marker is near Middletown, Virginia, in Frederick County: at the intersection of Valley Pike (U.S. 11) and Belle Grove Road (County Route 727), on the right when traveling south on Valley Pike.
Final photograph is Ramseur's Brigade at the site of the Battle of Spotsylvania Courthouse.
Stephen Dodson Ramseur graduated from West Point at age twenty-three in June 1860. He came from a slaveholding family in Lincoln County, North Carolina, and was a devout Presbyterian and staunch Democrat. By 1860 Ramseur believed that secession was inevitable and justified. He resigned from the United States Army in April 1861, after seven southern states had seceded, and offered his services to the Confederacy. He returned to North Carolina to take command of the Ellis Light Artillery. On May 20, 1861, Ramseur's artillery was posted on the State Capitol grounds during North Carolina's secession debate. When the convention approved secession, Ramseur's battery announced the historic moment by firing its cannons.
Stephen Dodson Ramseur served with distinction in 1862 and 1863, received a promotion to brigadier general, and suffered wounds three times. He also fell in love with his cousin Ellen Richmond from Milton in Caswell County, and they married in October 1863. During their months of separation, the couple wrote many loving letters to each other. Ramseur earned a promotion to major general for leading an attack that saved the Confederate army at Spotsylvania Courthouse in May 1864. While he was fighting in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley in the summer and fall of 1864, Ellen was at home awaiting the birth of their first child. On October 16, Ramseur received news that his wife had given birth and that all was well. But the message did not say whether the baby was a boy or a girl. Three days later (October 19), Ramseur was mortally wounded in the Battle of Cedar Creek, without knowing that he had a daughter.
Stephen Dodson Ramseur died of battle wounds on October 20, 1864, after sending his love to his family and requesting that a lock of his hair go to his wife. Federal troops returned his body to a boyhood friend, Confederate major general Robert F. Hoke. Ramseur's body lay in state briefly in the capitol at Richmond, then went by train home to Lincolnton. Ramseur's family was crushed by the news of his death. His widow, Ellen, and three-week-old daughter, Mary, could not travel from Caswell County for the funeral. Ellen Ramseur never remarried and wore black mourning clothing for the rest of her life. She remained with her family in Caswell County until she died in 1900 at the age of fifty-nine. Mary Ramseur died at the age of seventy-one in 1935.
Source: North Carolina and the Civil War, North Carolina Museum of History.
Battle of Cedar Creek (Belle Grove) October 19, 1864: At dawn, October 19, 1864, the Confederate Army of the Valley under Lt. Gen. Jubal A. Early surprised the Federal army at Cedar Creek and routed the VIII and XIX Army Corps. Commander Maj. Gen. Philip Sheridan arrived from Winchester to rally his troops, and, in the afternoon, launched a crushing counterattack, which recovered the battlefield. Sheridan’s victory at Cedar Creek broke the back of the Confederate army in the Shenandoah Valley. Lincoln rode the momentum of Sheridan’s victories in the Valley and Sherman’s successes in Georgia to re-election.
For more on this battle, including an animated map of the conflict go to Battle of Cedar Creek.
Lincolnton Native Stephen Ramseur, Casualty of Shenandoah Campaign
On October 20, 1864, Maj. Gen. Stephen Dodson Ramseur died from wounds received the previous day. Born in 1837 in Lincolnton, he attended Davidson College, where he studied mathematics briefly before entering the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1856. There he became close friends with several future Union generals including George Armstrong Custer.
After graduation Ramseur served with the 3rd United States Artillery stationed in Washington, D.C. He never reported to his new command after a promotion in February 1861 and instead he resigned his commission and offering his services to the Confederacy.
After briefly serving with an artillery unit, Ramseur was appointed colonel of the 49th North Carolina, a regiment he led with distinction at Malvern Hill where he was severely wounded. Promoted to brigadier general and assigned a brigade in the Second Corps of the Army of Northern Virginia, he led his brigade at Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, the Wilderness, Spotsylvania and Cold Harbor. In the fall of 1864, Ramseur led his division in the Shenandoah Campaign. On October 19, 1864, he was mortally wounded at Cedar Creek, Virginia. Taken prisoner, he died the next day at Union headquarters surrounded by many of his former friends and West Point classmates including General George A. Custer.
Other related resources:
Images of the Civil War from the State Archives
The Civil War on NCpedia
The North Civil War Experience from N.C. Historic Sites
North Carolina and the Civil War from the N.C. Museum of History
The North Carolina Civil War Sesquicentennial Committee
North Carolina as a Civil War Battleground from N.C. Historical Publications
The Youngest Confederate General
Source: "This Day in North Carolina History," North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources, 20 October 2016.
Biography of Stephen Dodson Ramseur.
Stephen Dodson Ramseur: Lee's Gallant General, Gary W. Gallagher (1985).
The Battle of Cedar Creek: Victory from the Jaws of Defeat, Jonathan A. Noyalas (2009).
The Bravest of the Brave: The Correspondence of Stephen Dodson Ramseur, George G. Kundahl, Editor (2010).
(click on photograph for larger image)
During the Civil War, President Lincoln sought election to a second term. Here is an interesting excerpt from This Hallowed Ground: The Story of the Union side of the Civil War, Bruce Catton (1956):
" . . . . Someone sounded Grant out on the matter of Lincoln's possible replacement, and Grant exploded angrily: 'I consider it as important to the cause that he should be elected as that the army should be successful in the field." On the Confederate side, valiant General Stephen D. Ramseur of North Carolina wrote to his wife that men just back from the North were saying that McClellan would be elected and that the election would bring peace, 'provided always that we continue to hold our own against the Yankee armies."
While General George B. McClellan, former leader of the Army of the Potomac, was selected by the Democratic party as its nominee for President, he refused to run, and Lincoln was elected to a second term in 1864. General Robert E. Lee surrendered to Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant 9 April 1864.
Stephen Dodson Ramseur, born in Lincolnton, North Carolina, in 1837, compiled an enviable record as a brigadier in the Army of Northern Virginia. Commissioned major general the day after his twenty-seventh birthday, he was the youngest West Pointer to achieve that rank in the Confederate army. He later showed great skill as a divisional leader in the 1864 Shenandoah Valley campaigns before he was fatally wounded at Cedar Creek on 19 October of that year. Based on Ramseur's extensive personal papers as well as on other sources, this absorbing biography examines the life of one of the South's most talented commanders and brings into sharper focus some of the crosscurrents of this turbulent period.
Ramseur's captors escorted him to Sheridan's headquarters at Belle Grove, where the chief medical of the Union army and a captured Confederate surgeon conducted an examination and pronounced the wound mortal. R. R. Hutchinson, taken prisoner by the Federals while with the rear guard, learned of Ramseur's presence and Belle Grove and received permission to join him. Hutchinson found his commander in obvious pain, but "his hope in Christ led him to endure all patiently." Several old friends from West Point, now Union officers, visited Ramseur's bedside. Henry A. du Pont, who had roomed across the hall from Ramseur at the Academy, was deeply moved by this reunion. At one point du Pont seated himself "as quietly as possible on the side-rail of the beadstead." inadvertently sending "a thrill of pain" through Ramseur and prompting him to whisper, "Du Pont, you don't know how I suffer." George Custer and Wesley Merritt sat with Ramseur during the evening, perhaps recalling their farewell party at Benny Haven's tavern, and Sheridan "offered every assistance" in his power.
Source: University of North Carolina promotional for the book: Stephen Dodson Ramseur: Lee's Gallant General, Gary W. Gallagher (1985); and the book itself at 164-165.
Gallagher, Gary W. Stephen Dodson Ramseur: Lee's Gallant General. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1985.
Reverend Nehemiah Henry Harding's daughter, Priscilla Shaw Harding (1829-1870), in 1854 married Milton's long-practicing and apparently much-loved Dr. Charles Russell Dodson, M.D. (1814-1898).
The good Dr. Dodson has a sister, Lucy Mayfield Dodson (1812-1895), who in 1833 married Jacob Able Ramseur (1808-1880), thus becoming the mother of General-to-be Stephen Dodson Ramseur (1837-1864).
So, Dr. Charles Russell Dodson is the uncle of General Stephen Dodson Ramseur, making Priscilla Shaw Harding (daughter of Reverend Nehemiah Henry Harding) the aunt (by marriage) of the General.
But, that is not the entire story. The good Dr. Dodson had another sister, Mary Randloph Dodson (1810-1887), who in 1838 married Caleb Hazard Richmond (1805-1861). And, of course, this couple had a beautiful daughter, Ellen Ella Richmond (1840-1900), who in 1863 married her first cousin Stephen Dodson Ramseur!
Another sister of Dr. Charles Russell Dodson, married Andrew Motz from Lincolnton, North Carolina. Note that an Alexander Hampton (AH) Motz from Lincolnton (operated stores in Milton and Yanceyville), but have not connected the dots.
Confederate Major General at age of twenty-seven. Mortally wounded at Cedar Creek, Virginia, Oct. 19, 1864. Grave 2 blocks north. NC 27 (East Main Street) at Cedar Street in Lincolnton, North Carolina.
Ramseur, Maj. Gen. Stephen D., a native of Lincoln County and a graduate of West Point with honors, aged about 30, no death date, in the last battle of Early's in the Valley of Virginia (Asheville News, Nov. 3, 1864).
Source: Marriage and Death Notices from Extant Asheville, N.C. Newspapers 1840-1870, An Index, Robert M. Topkins, Compiler and Editor (1977) (1983 Reprint Edition) at 114.
American Civil War General Officers
Name: Stephen Dodson Ramseur
State Served: North Carolina
Highest Rank: Major General
Birth Date: 1837
Death Date: 1864
Birth Place: Lincolnton, North Carolina
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
Biography: Ramseur, Stephen Dodson, North Carolina.
Major, Tenth North Carolina Artillery (State troops), August 20, 1861.
Colonel, Forty-ninth North Carolina Infantry, April 12, 1862.
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 day. General Ewell alluded to this movement in his official report as "a charge of unsurpassed gallantry." Though 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.
Stephen Dodson Ramseur attended schools in Lincolnton & Milton, NC. and at age 16 attended Davidson College. Deciding upon a military career, he left Davidson in April 1855 to accept an appointment to the United States Military Academy from the 7th Congressional District and entered as a cadet on 1 July 1855. While at the Academy, he attained an outstanding academic record in mathematics, English, French, philosophy and cavalry tactics. He graduate No. 14 in a class of 41 members and was commissioned a Brevet 2nd Lieutenant, 3rd Artillery on 1 July 1860, and was stationed at Fortress Monroe, Va. and Washington, DC. He was promoted to the rank of 2nd Lt. of the 4th Artillery on 1 February 1861, but the Civil War having begun, he resigned on 6 April 1861, without having joined his new regiment, and offered his services to the Confederacy. By this government, he was commissioned 1st. Lt. of artillery and shortly thereafter was appointed Captain of the 49th North Carolina Battery. In the Spring of 1862, he reported with his battery at Yorktown, VA to Gen. John B. Magruder, who was opposing the advance of Gen. McClellan up the Peninsula. He was detached from his battery to be placed in command of the artillery of the right wing and was promoted to the rank of Major. In April 1862, he was elected Colonel of the 49th NC Infantry. He rapidly trained his new regiment, led it with distinction in the Seven Day's Battle in front of Richmond, and though severely wounded at Malvery Hill, refused to leave the field until the engagement was over. Upon the recommendation of Gen. Lee, he was promoted to Brigadier-General on 1 November 1862, and assigned to command a brigade of four NC regiments in D. H. Hill's division of Stonewall Jackson's corps in the army of Northern Virginia.
On 22 October 1863, he married his first cousin, Ellen Elizabeth Richmond at "Woodside" in Milton, North Carolina. Stephen fought gallantly with his brigade at Chancellorsville where he was again wounded, participated in the battles at Gettysburg, in the Wilderness, at Spotsylvania, where he received another wound and where his brigade won fame by its charge which drove Gen. Hancock's men from the "Bloody Angle". On 1 June 1864, he was promoted to the rank of Major-General. He commanded a division at Cold Harbor and in the force of Gen. Jubal Early, which invaded Maryland in June and July of 1864. Returning to Shenandoah Valley his division bore the brunt of Gen Sheridan's attack at Winchester, Va. and fell back. At Cedar Creek, Va. on 19 October 1864, after assisting in the initial defeat of the Union forces, he fell mortally wounded while rallying his men to stop Sheridan's counter-attack. He was taken to Sheridan's headquarters and Union surgeons labored with a southern doctor to save him, but he died the next day in Winchester, Va. Friends and former classmates at West Point (in blue uniforms) took down messages for Mrs. Ramseur and cut off a lock of brown hair for the baby daughter the young general would never see, and after long hours of agony, Stephen died in the arms of former classmates. Stephen's body was returned to Lincolnton, NC. to be buried in St. Lukes Episcopal Church Cemetery.
Source: The Charles and William Dodson Family Home Page, Jacque Bentsen Hall (Family Tree Maker Online), Accessed 17 January 2010.
Housed either in the North Carolina State Archives or at the North Carolina Museum of History:
1. Stephen D. Ramseur Papers. '2 addresses, 1920; I pamphlet; I note. Given by Mrs. F. H. Whitaker, Davidson.
2. Daguerreotypes of General Stephen D. Ramseur and his wife and miniature of their daughter, Mary D. Ramseur, bequest of Miss Mary Dodson Ramseur.
At dawn, May 12, 1864, Union troops overwhelmed Maj. Gen. Edward Johnson's Division at the Muleshoe Salient. Brig. Gen. Stephen Dodson Ramseur's North Carolina Brigade counterattacked across these earthworks and by 7:30 a.m. regained the portion of the salient[uplift or rise] opposite this point. For the next twenty hours Ramseur's men held their ground in the face of determined Union assaults. The North Carolinians then withdrew to a new defensive line one-half mile to the rear. This gallant stand help thwart the Union advance and saved Lee's Army from disaster.
Stephen Dodson Ramseur's biography Lee's Gallant General by Gary W. Gallagher gives his father's name as Jacob A. Ramseur rather than Joseph. It was he who changed the spelling of the surname from Ramsour to Ramseur. (p. 6). His name is also listed as Jacob in the Caswell Co. Marriage Bonds.
On June 7, 1916, a portrait of General Stephen D. Ramseur was presented to the North Carolina "hall of history." Chief Justice Walter Clark made the presentation speech, and Col, J. Bryan Grimes accepted for the historical commission. Miss Mary Dodson Ramseur, daughter of General Ramseur, was there from Lincolnton and attended the ceremonies. The supreme court room was filled when the Chief Justice Clark was presented by Colonel Fred A. Olds, the director of the hall of history and master of the presentation exercises.
The Wilmington Dispatch (Wilmington, North Carolina), 08 June 1916, Thursday, Page 2.
Noyalas, Jonathan A. The Battle of Cedar Creek: Victory From The Jaws Of Defeat. Charleston (South Carolina): The History Press, 2009.
Nestled between the Allegheny and Blue Ridge Mountains, Virginia's Shenandoah Valley enjoyed tremendous prosperity before the Civil War. This valuable stretch of land -- called "the Breadbasket of the Confederacy" due to its rich soil and ample harvests -- became the source of many conflicts between the Confederate and Union armies.
Of the thirteen major battles fought here, none was more influential than the Battle of Cedar Creek. On October 19, 1864, General Philip Sheridan's Union troops finally gained control of the valley, which eliminated the Shenandoah as a supply source for Confederate forces in Virginia, ended the valley's role as a diversionary theater of war and stopped its use as an avenue of invasion into the North.
Civil War historian Jonathan A. Noyalas explains the battle and how it aided Abraham Lincoln's reelection campaign and defined Sheridan's enduring legacy.
Gallagher, Gary W. The Bravest of the Brave: The Correspondence of Stephen Dodson Ramseur. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2010.
- Details: Stephen Dodson Ramseur: Lee's Gallant General, Gary W. Gallagher (1985).
- Details: Caswell County, North Carolina Marriage Bonds, 1778-1868, Katharine Kerr Kendall (1981) at 86.
- Details: The Charles and William Dodson Family Home Page, Jacque Bentsen Hall (Family Tree Maker Online), Accessed 17 January 2010.