The Civil War in North Carolina

Reminiscences and Memoirs of North Carolina and Eminent North Carolinians

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of Attorney-General. During the years that he held it new political issues had arisen to divide parties, upon which he felt constrained to differ from his Whig friends, though never to be alienated from them personally and socially. He could not follow them in their denial of or efforts to curtail the political rights of Roman Catholics and Foreign-born citizens, and he thus naturally drifted into association with the Democratic party. The fact is well remembered by men who have passed the meridian of life that these short-lived political issues had much to do with the final overthrow and dissolution of the Whig party; and now for many years past, General Ransom has been re-united under the Democratic banner, with the great majority of his old Whig friends.

        It was during his incumbency of the Attorney-Generalship that General Ransom married Miss Exum, a daughter of Joseph Exum, Esq. of Northampton, a lady of rare excellence who has blessed and adorned her husband's household and career in life. It was about this time that he moved his residence to that County. In 1858 he was elected to the Legislature, and again in 1860, in the County of his adoption.

        Although deeply attached to the South by all the ties of patriotism and personal interest, he was a pronounced Unionist, from a conviction that Southern rights and welfare would be imperilled by secession, and could only be preserved within the Union. But when secession became an accomplished fact, against his earnest protest and opposition, and when it became a necessity to take sides in the impending conflict, he hesitated not a moment in espousing the cause of the State and of the South.

        In 1861 he was selected by the State as one of three Peace Commissioners, sent to Montgomery, Alabama, in the hope of averting the calamities of civil war. His associates were Ex-Governor Swain, President of the University, and the late John L. Bridgers, Esq. Failing in this peaceful mission, he returned home, and entered the military service.

        The fact is interesting to note that General Ransom volunteered as a private soldier, but was immediately appointed by Governor Ellis to the honorable and responsible rank of Lieutenant Colonel of the 1st North Carolina Infantry, with which he marched to the seat of war in Virginia. He was afterwards chosen by the officers, Colonel of the 35th Infantry, and was soon promoted to a Brigadier Generalship. In 1865 he was again promoted, to the rank of Major General, and was entrusted with command as such; but in that supreme crisis of the Confederacy he failed, however, to receive the formal commission. General John B. Gorden has written a letter to General M. J. Wright, compiler of the Confederate records, affirming that General Ransom was promoted to the rank of Major-General "for most distinguished gallantry."

        The limits appropriated to this brief sketch render it impracticable to enter upon a narrative of General Ransom's military services. It must suffice to say that they were distinguished and important, and served to place him among the foremost leaders of the people in North Carolina in that disastrous struggle. While yet a Colonel, he was seriously wounded in the breast and right arm (from which he still suffers,) in one of the battles before Richmond and Petersburg. His gallantry on this occasion led to his rapid promotion. But his achievements when clothed with higher command, on wider fields of action, must be left to the historian, or to the more pretentious biographer.

        At the close of the war General Ransom addressed himself to the elevated and patriotic task of restoring true peace, liberty and union, by instilling in the minds of the people the idea that the disastrous results of the struggle were irreversible. He saw clearly that there
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