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CDV, General Ambrose Ransom Wright

 
CDV, General Ambrose Ransom Wright (Image1)
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Colonel of the 3rd Georgia Infantry

Badly wounded at the Battle of Sharpsburg in 1862, and at the Battle of Chancellorsville in 1863

Extremely rare war time view as brigadier general


(1826-72) Born in Louisville, Jefferson County, Georgia, this very distinguished and hard fighting Confederate general was best known by his nickname of "Rans." The young 15 year old Wright read law under the guidance of his mentor and future brother-in-law, the well known lawyer, senator, Georgia governor, and vice presidential candidate, Herschel V. Johnson, and was admitted to the Georgia bar, and established a successful practice in his home town. About this time he also decided to enter the political field where he became prominently known, but was defeated in his bid to be elected to the Georgia State Legislature, and the United States Congress. However, Wright became a presidential elector in 1856 for Millard Fillmore, and he was a supporter of the John Bell and Edward Everett presidential ticket in 1860. An ardent supporter of Southern secession from the Union, he vigorously campaigned for Georgia to secede, and was chosen in 1861 as a Georgia state commissioner to represent his native state in an effort to induce Maryland into joining with Georgia to leave the Union. On April 26, 1861, he enlisted as a private in the "Confederate Light Guards," which soon became a company in the 3rd Georgia Infantry, and on May 18, 1861, Wright was elected their colonel. A soldier of the 3rd Georgia Infantry described their new commander, as "tall, finely formed, and of a commanding appearance." The regiment's first test of fire came in the fall of 1861, when they were engaged in skirmishing along the North Carolina coast. During the fighting that took place on October 9th, along the banks of the Chickamacomico River, Colonel Wright single-handedly captured five Yankees. On April 19, 1862, he led a small force of Confederates to victory against Union troops in the battle at South Mills, North Carolina. Highly praised by his superiors, Wright was promoted to the rank of brigadier general, on June 3, 1862. Not long after this, he was assigned to command a brigade, and was sent to Virginia, where he earned an extremely distinguished battle record in the Army of Northern Virginia, starting at the Seven Days battles through the siege of Petersburg. At Malvern Hill, on July 1, 1862, one Rebel soldier remembered seeing General Wright his long hair and beard flowing in the breeze, his felt hat turned up at the side, while he seemed to be on all parts of the battlefield at once! Wright subsequently led his brigade at 2nd Manassas, and at Sharpsburg, where he was seriously wounded in the chest and leg, and having his horse killed from under him while defending the Sunken Road! Despite his severe wounds, he insisted on staying on the field of action, and desired to continue to command his troops while placed on a litter! Wright's wounds were so severe that he was forced to convalesce in Georgia for seven months. Throughout this period the general acted like a caged tiger chomping at the bit wanting anxiously to get back into the fight. He was quoted as saying, "there is no place I like so much as an active fighting campaign." General Wright returned to active field duty in time to join the army at Chancellorsville, Va. At this battle he was once again wounded, this time being struck by artillery shell fragments in his right knee. At the Battle of Gettysburg, his brigade stormed Cemetery Ridge, on the 2nd day's fighting temporarily breaching the Union lines, but was forced to relinquish the ground because of lack of support. In August 1863, General Wright was charged with disobedience of orders, and disrespect towards his superior officers in connections with his actions at Gettysburg! He was acquitted in a court martial presided over by General Henry Heth. What happened was that Wright was furious because of the lack of support his brigade received after they stormed Cemetery Ridge. Shortly after the battle, Wright wrote a scathing letter to his wife describing the action and criticizing the other brigades in his division. When his words appeared in print, Wright's division commander, General Richard H. Anderson, was none too pleased, and placed the Georgian under arrest. At his court martial it was established that his comments were published in the Augusta Constitutionalist. Wright, a lawyer by occupation, handled his own defense and was acquitted. This controversial incident at Gettysburg might elucidate a facet of Wright's character, at times allowing himself to become over zealous and combative with his superiors, too self willed with an unrelenting zest for victory! An Atlanta newspaper editor praised General Wright's gallantry and patriotism, but also admitted that the general was too vain and overly ambitious at times. His direct superior General Richard H. Anderson, who Wright despised, thought he had too much dash for his own good, and needed a little more coolness. Despite his acquittal, General Wright was not healthy after suffering from his severe battle wounds, so he returned to Georgia where he won a seat in the Georgia State Senate. He returned to active field command in late 1864, and was promoted to major general on November 26th. He then participated in the Siege of Savannah, Ga., and served with General Joseph E. Johnston's army in the Carolina's. He eventually surrendered with General Johnston's army in North Carolina in 1865. After the war, he returned to his law practice, was the editor of the Augusta Chronicle & Sentinel newspaper, and engaged in politics. He won a congressional seat in the 1872 election, but fell seriously ill shortly after the election. He died on December 21, 1872, at Augusta, Ga., and is buried there in Magnolia Cemetery.

It has been written about General Ambrose Ransom "Rans" Wright, that no Georgian was more highly honored or more universally beloved than him! He was no doubt extremely intelligent, interesting, dedicated, determined and an ambitious hard fighting Confederate general, but he also had a very complex character that sometimes went to excess. During mid 19th century Georgia, when America was torn apart by Civil War, and feelings of hatred among fellow Americans had risen to fever pitch levels, pitting brother against brother, and family against family, with over 630,00 people losing their lives during this tragedy, when cooler heads were unable to prevail, and stop the wholesale slaughter that occurred between 1861-1865, one of the men caught in the middle of this conflict was General Ambrose Ransom "Rans" Wright, who became a son of the War Between the States!

Wet plate, albumen carte de visite photograph, mounted to 2 3/8 x 4 card. Half view pose in an oval format wearing his double breasted Confederate frock coat with rank of brigadier general. No back mark. This is an extremely rare variant view of the only known war time view of General "Rans" Wright as a Confederate brigadier general. This image was taken between June 1862 and November 1864, the period that Wright held the rank of brigadier general in the Confederate army. I have never owned a "Rans" Wright cdv in my 46 years in business, and I have never encountered this particular pose. The only two views of General Ambrose R. Wright that I have ever seen are in books, or museums. One view shows him from the waist up as a brigadier general, but it is a much different pose than this one. Then there is a late war view of him as major general that was taken on or after November 26, 1864, when he was promoted to the rank of major general. Extremely rare and extremely desirable Georgia Confederate image! Excellent condition.



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