Stephen D. Ramseur

An 1800s portrait sketch shows a young man with short hair and a beard in an army uniform.
Stephen D. Ramseur, c. 1860

North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Quick Facts
Confederate Major General
Place of Birth:
Lincolton, North Carolina
Date of Birth:
May 31, 1837
Place of Death:
Battle of Cedar Creek
Date of Death:
October 20, 1864
Place of Burial:
Lincolnton, North Carolina
Cemetery Name:
Saint Lukes Episcopal Church Cemetery

The day after Stephen D. Ramseur celebrated his 27th birthday, he was promoted to the rank of Major General. Ramseur was the youngest West Point graduate (class of 1860) in the Confederate army to attain that rank. Prior to the war, he had been a Second Lieutenant.

Seven Days

On April 10, 1861, Ramseur resigned his commission in the United States Army and entered the Confederate army as a Captain of the Ellis Light Artillery. One year later, in April 1862, he was promoted to Colonel of the 49th North Carolina Infantry Regiment. He served as an artillery officer during the Seven Days Battles of Union General George McClellan's Peninsula Campaign. Ramseur was seriously wounded in the right arm at the Battle of Malvern Hill (July 1, 1862).

Antietam, Gettysburg, Chancellorsville, & Spotsylvania Court House

As Ramseur recuperated, he was promoted to the rank of Brigadier General. He returned to action, serving with distinction at Antietam and Gettysburg.He was wounded again at the Battle of Chancellorsville (May 3, 1863) and also at the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House (May 7-19, 1864). For his actions at Spotsylvania, General Robert E. Lee promoted Ramseur to the rank of Major General on June 1, 1864.


As General Ulysses Grant took command of all federal armies, and began hammering General Lee’s army in the Overland Campaign in the spring of 1864, Ramseur played a key role. He was dispatched with General Jubal Early surreptitiously to the Shenandoah Valley where this new Confederate force dislodged the federal army under General David Hunter. Early’s subsequent move down the Shenandoah Valley led to the fateful engagement of July 9, 1864 with General Lew Wallace’s small federal force at Monocacy Junction in Maryland. It was men under Ramseur’s command who first encountered Wallace’s men defending Monocacy Junction.

During the Battle of Monocacy, Ramseur's Division led the Confederate Army down the Georgetown Pike and encountered the Union pickets and skirmishers at the covered bridge which spanned the Monocacy River. Ramseur ordered an immediate attack on the covered bridge but after reconnoitering the area, it was determined that the Union troops were too well positioned. The possibility that his forces would become bottlenecked at the bridge, causing heavy casualties, led to the Confederate's decision to find an alternate route for crossing the river. Ramseur's troops continued to pressure the junction and bridge throughout the day, and eventually succeeded in driving the Union forces over the railroad bridge.

Death at Cedar Creek

On October 19, 1864, Ramseur was shot through both lungs and captured at the Battle of Cedar Creek. He was taken to Union Major General Sheridan's headquarters where he died the following day. Ramseur had been married less than a year and had just received word before the fateful battle of the birth of his daughter.

Antietam National Battlefield, Cedar Creek & Belle Grove National Historical Park, Civil War Defenses of Washington , Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park, Gettysburg National Military Park, Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, Monocacy National Battlefield, Richmond National Battlefield Park more »

Last updated: December 21, 2021