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J.A. Ramsay

J.A. Ramsay

Confederate (CSA)


John Andrew Ramsay

(1836 - 1909)

Home State: North Carolina

Branch of Service: Artillery

Unit: Rowan (NC) Artillery

Before Sharpsburg

In 1860 he was a 24 year old farmer at Salisbury, Rowan County, NC. He was commissioned Captain of Company D - the Rowan Artillery - First North Carolina Light Artillery (10th Regiment State Troops) on 8 May 1861. In July 1861, for lack of guns and training the Company was assigned to the 4th North Carolina Infantry and Ramsay deferred to new Captain James Reilly, himself taking the post of First Lieutenant. He remained at that rank when they received 4 guns captured at Manassas and returned to artillery service on 15 August 1861. He was slightly injured, his right knee bruised, at Manassas in August 1862.

On the Campaign

He commanded the right section (10-pounder Parrott rifles) of the battery on the Campaign. At Sharpsburg on 17 September 1862 he was without ammunition until resupplied about 3 p.m. ...

Near Sharpsburg we met a large number of straggling soldiers going to the rear, and farther on officers were trying to rally the men and form them into line and nearly abreast of Sharpsburg we met General Lee. General Lee seeing Lieutenant Ramsay's telescope, said to him: "What troops are those?" pointing to the position occupied by Captain Reilly's Battery on the day before. Lieutenant Ramsay drew his telescope from the case and handed it to General Lee. He held up his wounded hand (fingers in bandages) and said "Can't use it. What troops are those?" Lieutenant Ramsay dismounted and adjusting the glass replied: "They are flying the United States flag." General Lee pointed at another body of troops nearly at right angles from the others, and said: "What troops are those?" Lieutenant Ramsay replied: "They are flying the Virginia and Confederate flags." General Lee said: "It is A. P. Hill from Harper's Ferry," and ordered Lieutenant Ramsay to place his guns on a little knoll on the right of the road and fire on those people (pointing in the first named direction). Lieutenant Ramsay then said: "General Lee, as soon as we fire we will draw the enemy's fire." General Lee replied: "Never mind me..."

The rest of the War

On 7 September 1863 Captain Reilly was promoted to Major and Ramsay was promoted to again be Captain of the Battery. He was absent, ill, in Richmond, VA hospitals from April - June 1864 and on furlough after February 1865. He was surrendered and paroled at Salisbury, NC on 19 June 1865.

After the War

By 1870 he was Deputy Collector of the Internal Revenue at Salisbury, NC, in 1880 was the Mayor, and in 1900 was a civil engineer there.

References & notes

His service from the Roster,1 Clark,2 source also of his picture and the quote above, and his Compiled Service Records,3 online from fold3. Personal details from family genealogists and the US Census of 1860-1900. His gravesite is on Findagrave.

He married Margaret Ellen "Maggie" Beall Ramsay (1840-1941), widow of his cousin Julius D. (1826-1864) in July 1865 and they had 3 children; she had two from her previous marriage.

More on the Web

A collection of his papers are in the Southern Historical Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill [finding aid]; 4 letters from that collection are online from UNC on Civil War Day by Day.


04/29/1836; Iredell County, NC


01/27/1909; burial in Chestnut Hill Cemetery, Salisbury, NC


1   Manarin, Louis H., and Weymouth Tyree Jordan, Matthew M Brown, Michael W Coffey, North Carolina Troops, 1861-1865 : A Roster, 20 Volumes +, Raleigh: North Carolina State Department of Archives and History, 1966-  [AotW citation 28811]

2   Clark, Walter, editor, Histories of the Several Regiments and Battalions from North Carolina in the Great War, 1861-1865, 5 vols., Raleigh and Goldsboro (NC): E. M. Uzzell, Nash Brothers, printers, 1901, Vol. 1, before pg. 489; pp. 561-563, 572, 575, 579  [AotW citation 28812]

3   US War Department, Compiled Service Records of Confederate Soldiers, Record Group No. 109 (War Department Collection of Confederate Records), Washington DC: US National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), 1903-1927  [AotW citation 28813]