September 24: James Brewerton Ricketts (1887)

James B. Ricketts was a career officer in the U.S. Army, serving as a Union Army general during the Civil War. Ricketts was born in New York City. He graduated 16th in a class of 31 at the U.S. Military Academy in 1839 and was assigned to the 1st U.S. Artillery. His pre-Civil War career was unexceptional. The Civil War, however, put Ricketts at the forefront of the action. In the war’s first major engagement at Bull Run he was wounded four times while commanding a battery.  Left for dead in the wake of the Union retreat, he was captured and held in a Richmond prison.  In an attempt by the Confederate government to prevent the Lincoln administration from executing Rebel prisoners, a number of Federal officers were marked for execution—Ricketts among them.  Fortunately, no executions took place and the prisoners were eventually exchanged. When Ricketts finally returned to the field it was as a brigadier general.

Ricketts’ division participated in the battles of South Mountain and Antietam.   At Antietam, Ricketts—who had already had one horse shot from under him—was badly injured when a second horse was killed and fell on him.  Though he refused to leave the field, the injury compelled Ricketts’ relief from command. At the battle of Cedar Creek, Ricketts was shot in the chest.  Though not mortal, the wound nevertheless crippled the general for life. Ricketts’ war wounds forced his retirement from the army in 1867 with the rank of major general. In that same year, Ricketts’ youngest daughter, Fanny, was baptized at Epiphany and then a year later, his youngest son, Basil, was baptized there. Basil Norris Ricketts would follow his father in a military career. The younger Ricketts fought with Teddy Roosevelt and the Rough Riders during the Spanish American War. After James B. Ricketts’ death on September 24, 1887, his funeral was at Epiphany before his interment at Arlington National Cemetery.

< Previous     Next >

No comments yet

Add comment