Ransom, Thomas Edward Greenfield
Age: 0, credited to Norwich, VTVITALS
Birth: 11/29/1834, Norwich, VTADDITIONAL INFORMATION
Alias?: None notedDESCENDANTS
Rosehill Cemetery, Chicago, IL
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and other veterans who may be buried there.
T. E. G. Ransom
"In war was never lion raged more fierce;
In peace was never gentle lamp more mild." -- Shakspeare
Among the most prominent actors of the West, in what has been so well called "this fearfully glorious present,"--one of the most brilliant young captains in our army, and one who certainly had no superior in his years in the volunteer service, stood Thomas Edward Greenfield Ransom, who possessed, to a greater degree than ordinarily falls to the lot of man, the respect and love of all who knew him. Lieutenant-General Grant once said of him "he is my best fighting man." The fields and fortress of eight States, in which he led the invincible legions of Illinois, who with
"Nerves of steel and hearts of oak,"
drove back the enemy; have witnessed his devotion, and his blood poured out on five battle-fields attests his valor. No story could be richer in deeds of daring and heroism than the story of the life of the young General, who died among the hills of Georgia of disease induced by the exposures of the service, as much "dead on the field," as if a rebel bullet had struck him in the heart.
Brigadier-General Ransom was born in Norwich, Vermont, on the 29th of November, 1834. In 1846 he entered the primary class of Norwich University--a Military College under the charge of his father, T. B. Ransom, then a Major-General of Militia of the States of Vermont. He was afterwards appointed Colonel 9th United States Infantry, displayed signal ability and bravery in the Mexican war, and fell at the storming of Chapultepec, Sept. 13th, 1847. The son inherited his father's sterling qualities, and has placed his name high on his country's roll of "brave men and worthy patriots, dear to God and famous to all ages." During the Mexican war young Ransom was taught engineering, under the tuition of his cousin, B. F. Marsh, on the Rutland and Burlington Railroad; but on his father's death he returned to the Norwich University, and continued there until the age of seventeen. In 1851 he entered upon the practice of his profession of an engineer, in Lasalle County, Illinois. Three years later he embarked in the real estate business at Peru, with his uncle, under the firm of Gilson and Ransom, and in December, 1855, removed to Chicago, to become a member of the firm of A. J. Galloway & Co., a house largely engaged in land operations. At a later period he removed to Fayette County, and while engaged in trade, acted as an agent for the Illinoi9s Central Railroad Company. He was there when the war began, and immediately raised a company and reached Camp Yates, at Springfield, April 24th, 1861, where his company was organized into the 11th Illinois Volunteers, and on an election for field-officers being held, was elected major. The regiment was ordered to Villa Ridge, near Cairo, an there remained in Camp of Instruction until June, when they were ordered to Bird's Point, Mo. The regiment was mustered out of the three months' service, July 30th, and was reorganized and mustered in for three years, Ransom being elected lieutenant-colonel. On the night of the 19th of August, in a gallant charge under Colonel Dougherty, upon Charleston, Mo., Colonel Random received his first severe wound by a mounted foe, who pretended to surrender, but fired upon him as he approached to take his arms. After receiving the bullet in his right shoulder, he fired upon the rebel, instantly killing him. He was granted thirty days' leave, and reported for duty at the expiration of the seventh.
Accompanying General Grant up the Tennessee River, he participated in the capture of Fort Henry, on the 6th of February, 1862, and led his regiment in the assault upon Donelson, was again severely wounded, but would not leave the field until the battle was ended. His clothes were pierced with six bullet-holes, and a horse was killed under him. His wound, together with fatigue and prolonged exposure did their work--a long sickness followed; but he would not leave his regiment, and moved with the 11th from place to place, being carried in an ambulance. For his skill and gallantry at Donelson, Ransom was promoted to the colonelcy--Wallace, who had been for some months commanding a brigade, receiving at the same time a commission as brigadier-general. At Shiloh, when General Wallace fell, Ransom led his regiment through the hottest part of the bloody battle, and, though wounded in the head early in the engagement, remained with his command through the day. In his official report, Major-General McClernand, in whose Division he was, spoke of Colonel Ransom at a "critical moment performing prodigies of valor, though reeling in his saddle, and streaming with blood from a serious wound." In June he was appointed as chief of General McClernand's staff, ans served for a time on the staff of General Grant. wherever there was to work, the young colonel was to be found; leading the successful expedition against Clarksville, Tennessee; routing Woolward at Garrettsburg, Kentucky, and commanding a brigade in the van of the army when it moved into Mississippi. In January, 1863, Ransom was appointed a brigadier-general, his commission dating from Nov. 29, 1862. He next participated in the campaign against Vicksburg, commanding the First Brigade, Sixth Division, Seventeenth Army Corps. At Champion Hill, and during the siege operations, his gallantry was conspicuous. After the surrender, General Ransom's Brigade formed a part of General Logan's column of occupation. August 6th, he was appointed to the command of the post of Natchez, and captured, upon his arrival there, a large supply of ammunition, and five thousand head of cattle. He was next transferred to the Thirteenth Corps, and assigned to the command of a division. H accompanied the Texas Expedition under General Banks, in November, 1863, and led the troops detailed to capture the enemy's works on Mustang Island. He took part in the Red River Campaign, fully maintain his high character as an efficient soldier. In the disastrous battle of Sabine Cross-Roads, April 8th, 1864, his Division of Infantry was ordered up to the support of Lee's Cavalry, by Major-General Franklin, then in command of the column. The writer was near him "amid sheeted fire and flame," while he rode hither and thither, vainly endeavoring to beat back the overwhelming numbers led against him by Generals Green and Mouton. No man ever behaved more gallantly. While directing the guns of the Chicago Mercantile Battery, his adjutant, Captain Dickey, was mortally wounded, and he himself severely hurt in the knee. The day following, four surgeons examined the wound at Pleasant Hill, and were divided in their opinion, two being in favor of amputation, while the others deemed it unnecessary. The General, who was an anxious listener to the conversation, raised himself on his couch, and said, "Well, gentlemen, as the House is equally divided on this subject, I will as chairman of the meeting decide the question. I shall retain the wounded leg, lead included." As so the matter was decided, and the gallant young captain ultimately recovered, although with a stiff knee, which was however, as he remarked, "better than no knee."
During the month of April, he was awarded a gold medal by the board of officers of the Seventeenth Corps for gallant conduct in the Vicksburg campaign. After recovering from his wound, Ransom was ordered to report to the Georgian Hero, General Sherman, and was assigned to the command of the Fourth Division, Sixteenth Army Corps, operating in the vicinity of Atlanta. He was soon promoted to the command of the left wing of the corps, consisting of Fuller's and Corse's Divisions, and was advanced in September, during the absence of General Blair, to the command of the Seventeenth Corps. From the date of the capitulation of Atlanta, the General suffered from a severe attack of dysentery, but would not, as his friends advised, give up command, or leave the post of duty. While his corps was in pursuit of Hood's Army, he continued to direct its movements, riding in an ambulance for several days, after he was unable from weakness to sit on his horse. Ere long he was utterly prostrated, and on the 29th of October, after giving the most minute orders in regard to his affairs, leaving messages of love for his widowed New England mother, and other dear friends, among the prairies of Illinois, and in the Union armies; and when his thirtieth birthday was waiting for him over in the month of November, he finished his glorious little week of life, and the spirit of T. E. G. Ransom, fit companion for Bayard and McPherson, Sedgwick and Wadsworth, and the hundred other heroes whose outpoured blood attests their love of freedom and right, passed away to that sunny land, where there is neither "battle nor murder, sedition, privy conspiracy, or rebellion." In accordance with his request, his remains were removed to Chicago, and were interred with distinguished honors by the Masonic fraternity--of which he was a member--aided by the military, and were followed to their last resting-place in the old cemetery by an immense concourse of citizens. The funeral-car, drawn by six horses, was appropriately draped; upon the coffin, and about it, were scattered floral wreaths and immortelles, while the sword of the young hero was placed across his breast. Over the coffin was thrown a historic flag. It was the regular garrison flag of Fort Brown, Brownsville, Texas, during the Mexican War. When Twiggs surrendered that fort to the enemy, an employee of the Government secured the flag and secreted it. It was subsequently presented by him to the 13th Maine Volunteers, and from their possession it passed into General Ransom's hands, over whose head-quarters in the field it was constantly displayed.
Thus closed the brief career of a man of fine genius, great military capacity, of unblemished personal character, of high promise, as well as noble performance. General Howard said of him: "He is a soldier of modesty, capacity, and bravery, equal to any in this army." What grander deeds of daring and heroism he might have achieved, what more glorious life he might have illustrated, no man can tell. How brief his little day; but, ah, how bright it was! What a record of marches and battles, with wounds and dangers and famous victories! always in the terrible front, ever present when history was to be made. It was not his destiny to fall, as he often expressed a wish to do, upon the field of battle, with the noise of conflict ringing in his ears, and shouts of "victory" from his companions, heralding his approach to "the land o' the leal." One of the earliest of the English poets has truthfully said,
"Life is not lost, from which is bought
Ransom's memory, and the memory of others like him, who have died that their country might live; who have, beyond all considerations of gain, rank, or station, seen only their country, and her well-being; will be cherished by all loyal dwellers therein; by this children, by their children's children, and to "the last syllable of recorded time." He is not dead, however; he is only gone before; for "they never die, who fall in a great cause;" and he most truly fell in a great cause--the struggle for the preservation of the Union--"this Holy War and Modern Crusade against Barbarism."
"Death," says Bacon, "openeth the gate to good fame." In this brief biography of my friend, it has not been my aim to make him too much a hero; to award him any, however slight, commendation to which he was not most justly entitle; and I cannot better leave him, than with the beautiful words applied to another, but which may be even more truthfully applied to Random: "Good friend! brave heart! gallant leader! true hero! hail, and farewell!"
Source: The United States Service Magazine, Charles R. Richardson, New York, 1865, April 1865, iii:386-389.
General Ransom was the second son of Colonel Truman Ransom, and was born in Norwich, November 29, 1834. He entered Norwich University in 1848, where he remained three years, then went to Illinois, where he practised his profession of civil engineering and entered into real estate transactions.
At the breaking out of the Civil War he was in the employ of the Illinois Central Railroad, with his residence in Fayette County, that State.
In response to President Lincoln's call for 75,000 troops in 1861, he raised a body of soldiers that became Company E of the Eleventh Illinois Volunteers, and was elected its Captain, his commissioning bearing date, April 6, 1861. He was commissioned Lieutenant Colonel of the regiment July 30, 1861, and Colonel of the same February 15, 1862. In January, 1863, he was appointed a Brigadier General and placed in command of a brigade in General Logan's division of the Seventeenth Army Corps.
General Ransom was severely wounded in the head during the battle of Shiloh, April 6, 1862; and received other wounds at Charleston, Mo.; at Fort Donelson, in 1862; and at Pleasant Hill, La. The last wound was a serious one and caused him to be brought to Chicago for care and treatment.
In the early part of October, 1864, General Ransom was taken severely ill with dysentery, while on active duty in the field although advised by surgeons and superior officers to go upon sick leave, he firmly refused to heed their advise, but continued with his command, and when took weak to ride on horseback he rode in an ambulance.
All this time the disease was making rapid progress towards a fatal termination, then near at hand. General Ransom died October 29, 1864. And thus passed away the young, brave, and handsome soldier, whose reply to friends when urged by them to leave his command, in search of health, was: "I will stay with my command until I am carried away in my coffin"; and when told that he had but a few hours to live, answered: "I am not afraid to die, I have met death too often to be afraid of it now."
It will be of interest to the people of Norwich, and of the state at large, to learn that the Ninth Regiment was not only commanded by Colonel Ransom, but at a later date by Gen. George Wright, a native born son of Norwich, [a notice of General Wright will be found under "Graduates of the U. S. Military Academy," in a previous chapter in this book], and still later by Colonel Liscomb, a Vermonter, who lost his life in China, when the allied forces were storming the walls around Pekin.
Huffstodt, Jim. Hard dying men: the story of General W. H. L. Wallace, General T. E. G. Ransom, and their "Old Eleventh" Illinois Infantry in the American Civil War (1861-1865), (Heritage Books, Bowie, Md., 1991.
Revised Roster, pp 729, 739.