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Bravest of the Brave

The Correspondence of Stephen Dodson Ramseur

Edited by George G. Kundahl

Publication Year: 2010

One of the youngest Confederate generals, Ramseur was killed in battle at the age of twenty-seven at Cedar Creek, near the end of the war. Unlike most other compilations of letters and papers of military officials who participated in the Civil War, much of Ramseur’s writing was of a personal rather than official nature, with many of the letters addressed to Nellie, his wife, and David Schenk, his best friend. So besides very good and candid accounts of battle and camp life, the letters also reveal Ramseur’s attitudes on the social, military, and political issues of the day. The collection comprises over 180 letters and documents, transcribed from originals residing in the Southern Historical Collection at Wilson Library, the Office of Archives and History at the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources, and the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration. The book will be an excellent source for those researching the culture, religion, and social values of the Confederacy, and not just the political and military campaigns. Born in Lincolnton, North Carolina, in 1837, Stephen Dodson Ramseur rose meteorically through the military ranks. Graduating from West Point in 1860, he joined the Confederate army as a captain. By the time of his death near the end of the war at the Battle of Cedar Creek, he had attained the rank of major general in the Army of Northern Virginia. He excelled in every assignment and was involved as a senior officer in many of the war's most important conflicts east of the Appalachians.

Published by: The University of North Carolina Press

Series: Civil War America


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Title Page, Copyright PAge

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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xii

Nearly thirty years have elapsed since I first encountered the Stephen Dodson Ramseur Papers at the Southern Historical Collection in Chapel Hill. I had chosen Ramseur as the subject of my doctoral dissertation, planning to examine his Confederate career as a case study of how able young...

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Editorial Method and Letter Sources

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pp. xiii-xv

Over 180 letters written by Stephen Dodson Ramseur are known to exist today. Only a handful are official correspondence; the overwhelming majority are personal. They are addressed to family members, principally to his cousin Ellen “Nellie” Richmond, who became his wife, and to his...

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pp. 1-6

“Whenever you can send them, we shall be more than glad to get your father’s letters. I know there will be much material in them that will be very helpful to students of Confederate History.”1 So wrote D. H. Hill, the general’s son who served as secretary of the North Carolina Historical...

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CHAPTER ONE: The Formative Years, 1837–1855

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pp. 7-15

Born on may 31, 1837, the eldest son of Lucy and Jacob Ramsour,1 Stephen Dodson Ramseur was known throughout his life as “Dod” or “Dodson,” his mother’s maiden name. Dod took a special interest in nurturing his brother, David, who was two years younger. From the frequent, endearing correspondence...

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CHAPTER TWO: Wearing the Military Uniform of the United States: The West Point Years and Service as an Army Officer, 1855–1861

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pp. 17-74

In the years before the civil war, the U.S. Military Academy was the nation’s premier engineering school with a curriculum designed to prepare its graduates to build the river and harbor works, lighthouses, canals, and railroads needed by a burgeoning nation. It also served to prepare topographical...

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CHAPTER THREE: Confederate Artillery Officer, 1861–1862

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pp. 75-88

Upon submitting his resignation from the U.S. Army, Ramseur headed for the capital of the nascent confederacy in Montgomery, Alabama. Before departing Lincolnton, on April 16, 1861, Ramseur applied for a commission in the new Confederate army.1 On the way south, Ramseur...

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CHAPTER FOUR: Regimental Commander, April–October 1862

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pp. 89-103

In the spring of 1862, the counties around Lincolnton raised a unit that was mustered into service as the Forty-ninth North Carolina Infantry. Its members elected Dodson Ramseur as their colonel. Over the next six months, they would fight only once under his command, at Malvern Hill....

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CHAPTER FIVE: Brigade Commander (I), November 1862–October 1863

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pp. 105-173

The wound suffered by Ramseur at the conclusion of the Peninsula campaign was so severe he had to be evacuated to North Carolina, where he remained for much of the remainder of 1862. Meanwhile, the Army of Northern Virginia engaged in two of its famed battles, at Second Manassas...

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CHAPTER SIX: Brigade Commander (II), November 1863–May 1864

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pp. 175-226

The newlyweds spent the next month in the embrace of their families in Milton and Lincolnton, and in the mountains of western North Carolina. Only reluctantly did Ramseur return to military duties. He found that in his absence his brigade engaged in a skirmish on November 7 at Kelly’s Ford,...

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CHAPTER SEVEN: Division Commander, May–October 1864

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pp. 227-290

As fighting progressed during May, Ewell’s precarious health declined. It was said that he could no longer continue to campaign without respite. Early assumed temporary control of Lee’s Second Corps, and Ramseur was selected to succeed him as division commander. Ramseur’s first...

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CHAPTER EIGHT: Death and Aftermath

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pp. 291-305

Sheridan’s mission was to destroy the military value of the Shenandoah Valley to Lee’s army. Early’s orders were to threaten Maryland and Pennsylvania in order to engage the largest possible Federal force—troops who otherwise would be available for Grant’s disposition outside Richmond. So...

APPENDIX: Abbreviated Family Tree of Stephen Dodson Ramseur

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pp. 307-310


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pp. 311-316

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pp. 317-318

Claiming to know everything about the American Civil War is like being the fastest gun in the West. There’s always someone faster. Gary W. Gallagher and Robert K. Krick, scholars and authors with national reputations, are far quicker draws than I, and were both extremely generous with their...


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pp. 319-324

E-ISBN-13: 9781469604022
E-ISBN-10: 1469604027
Print-ISBN-13: 9780807833735
Print-ISBN-10: 0807833738

Page Count: 344
Illustrations: 2 line drawings, 1 map
Publication Year: 2010

Series Title: Civil War America
Series Editor Byline: Series Editors: Peter S. Carmichael, Gettysburg College; Gary W. Gallagher, University of Virginia; Caroline E. Janney, Purdue University; and Aaron Sheehan-Dean, West Virginia University See more Books in this Series

OCLC Number: 658203932
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Bravest of the Brave

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Subject Headings

  • Ramseur, Stephen Dodson, 1837-1864 -- Correspondence.
  • Generals -- Confederate States of America -- Correspondence.
  • Confederate States of America. -- Army -- Officers -- Biography.
  • United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Personal narratives, Confederate.
  • United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Campaigns.
  • Generals -- Confederate States of America -- Biography.
  • Generals -- United States -- Biography.
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