Civil War Wiki

This wiki's URL has been migrated to the primary domain.Read more here


Civil War Wiki
James B. Ricketts
Personal Information
Born: June 21, 1817(1817-06-21)
Place of Birth: {{{place of birth}}}
Died: September 22, 1887 (aged 70)
Place of Death: {{{place of death}}}
Birth Name: {{{birth name}}}
Other Information
Allegiance: United States of America
Participation(s): {{{participations}}}
Branch: United States Army
Union Army
Service Years: {{{service years}}}
Rank: Major General of United States Volunteers
Service number : {{{servicenumber}}}
Commands: I Corps (Army of Virginia)
Battles: Mexican–American War
Seminole Wars
American Civil War
Relations: {{{relations}}}
Other work: {{{otherwork}}}

James Brewerton Ricketts (June 21, 1817 – September 22, 1887) was a career officer in the United States Army, serving as a general in the Eastern Theater during the American Civil War.

Early life and career[]

Ricketts was born in New York City. He graduated 16th in a class of 31 at the United States Military Academy in 1839 and was assigned to the 1st U.S. Artillery. He served during the Canada border disturbances on garrison duty and then was promoted to first lieutenant in April 1846. Ricketts saw considerable action during the Mexican-American War, participating in the Battle of Monterrey, and as commander of a gun, along with Abner Doubleday, held the Rinconada Pass during the Battle of Buena Vista. Despite his active service, he received no brevet promotions during the Mexican-American War, unlike many of his fellow officers.

Following his return from Mexico, Ricketts served in various army posts. He was promoted to captain in August 1853 and served in Florida against the Seminole Indians, and subsequently on frontier duty in Texas.

Civil War[]

At the beginning of the Civil War, Ricketts served in the defenses of Washington, D.C., and commanded an artillery battery in the capture of Confederate-held Alexandria, Virginia, in early 1861. His battery was then attached to William B. Franklin's Brigade of Samuel Heintzelman's Division. He was shot four times and captured at the First Battle of Bull Run on July 21, when his battery was overrun by Confederate infantry. For his personal bravery in the face of overwhelming odds, on that same day Ricketts was brevetted as a lieutenant colonel in the Regular Army, and made a brigadier general of U.S. volunteers. He was confined as a prisoner of war in Richmond, although his wife Fannie was allowed to travel to Richmond and stay with him as his nurse. Ricketts was not paroled until January 1862, when he was placed on medical leave to recuperate.

File:James B. and Fannie Ricketts - Brady-Handy.jpg

James and Fannie Ricketts

He was assigned to command of a division in Irvin McDowell's corps, which he commanded at the Battle of Cedar Mountain, where he covered Nathaniel P. Banks' withdrawal. At Second Bull Run, his division was thrown forward by McDowell into Thoroughfare Gap to bar the advance of James Longstreet, who was seeking to unite his wing with that of Stonewall Jackson. Ricketts, who was being flanked and in danger of being cut off, withdrew. At the subsequent Battle of Antietam, he had two horses killed under him and he was badly injured when the second one fell on him. When he recovered sufficiently for duty, he was appointed to the Fitz John Porter court-martial. The trial was created to convict, with every judge beholden Edwin M. Stanton for tenure or impending promotion except for Benjamin M. Prentiss. Ricketts probably voted for acquittal and was not promoted.

He did not return to the field until March 1864, when he was assigned to a division of John Sedgwick's VI Corps, which he led through Ulysses S. Grant's Overland Campaign. His men were considered as low quality, many of them being former members of Robert H. Milroy’s maligned Winchester command. The division performed poorly at the Battle of the Wilderness and without note at Spotsylvania Court House. However, Ricketts received the brevet of colonel, Regular Army, for gallant and meritorious services at Cold Harbor, Virginia, June 3, 1864, where he and his men performed well.

In July 1864, his command, numbering only 3,350 men, was hurried north to oppose Jubal Early's attack on Washington, D.C. He fought at battle of Monocacy under Lew Wallace, suffering the heaviest losses while holding the Union left flank. For his service there, he was brevetted major general of Volunteers, August 1, 1864. He was engaged in Philip Sheridan's Shenandoah Valley Campaign. At the Battle of Cedar Creek, he commanded the VI Corps in the initial hours of the fighting but was wounded by a Minié ball through his chest that disabled him for life. On March 13, 1865, Ricketts was brevetted brigadier general, United States Army, for gallant services at Cedar Creek, and major general, United States Army, for "gallant and meritorious service in the field." Despite his poor health, he returned to command of his division two days before Robert E. Lee's surrender at Appomattox Court House.

Postbellum career[]

In late July 1865, Ricketts was assigned to the command of a district in the Department of Virginia, a post he held until April 1866, when he was mustered out of the volunteer service. He was appointed lieutenant colonel, 21st U.S. Infantry in July 1866, but he declined the post. He retired from active service on January 3, 1867, due to disability from wounds received in battle, and served on various courts-martial until January 1869.

Never in good health due to his chest wound suffered while serving in the Shenandoah Valley, Ricketts retired from the army and lived in Washington, D.C., the rest of his life. He died there in his home and was buried in Arlington National Cemetery, along with his wife when she died in 1900. One of their sons, Basil Norris Ricketts, served in the Rough Riders under Theodore Roosevelt during the Spanish-American War and is buried near them.

Ricketts' grave marker reads:

Assigned to artillery on the Canadian frontier. Served through the War with Mexico. Frontier duty in Texas. Engaged in twenty seven battles of the rebellion. Was wounded five times. Prisoner of war in Richmond. Died September 27, 1887 from wounds received while commanding the Sixth Army Corps in the Shenandoah Valley. He gave his honors to the world again. His blessings part to heaven, and sleeps in peace.

Arlington National Cemetery marker

See also[]

32x28px United States Army portal
32x28px American Civil War portal



External links[]

Template:Start box |- ! colspan="3" style="background: #CF9C65;" | Military offices

|- style="text-align: center;" |- style="text-align:center;" |width="30%" align="center" rowspan="1"|Preceded by
Irwin McDowell |width="40%" style="text-align: center;" rowspan="1"|Commander of the I Corps (Army of Virginia)
September 5, 1862 - September 6, 1862 |width="30%" align="center" rowspan="1"| Succeeded by
Joseph Hooker |- |}