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Bill Thayer

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 [decorative delimiter] Class of 1837

Vol. I

(Born Md.)

Randolph Ridgely

(Ap'd Md.)º


Born 1814.a

Military History. — Cadet at the Military Academy, July 1, 1832, to July 1, 1837, when he was graduated and promoted in the Army to

Second Lieut., 3d Artillery, July 1, 1837.

Served: in garrison at Ft. Monroe, Va., 1837; in the Florida War against the Seminole Indians, 1837‑41, being engaged in the action of Locha-Hatchee, Jan. 24, 1838, — and as Adjutant, 3d Artillery, Mar. 8,

(First Lieut., 3d Artillery, July 17, 1838)

1838, to May 1, 1841; in garrison at Ft. McHenry, Md., 1841‑42, — Savannah, Ga., 1842‑44, — Ft. Moultrie, S. C., 1844, — and Ft. McHenry, Md., 1844, 1844‑45; in Military Occupation of Texas, 1845‑46; and in the War with Mexico, 1846, being engaged in the Battle of Palo Alto, May 8,

(Bvt. Capt., May 9, 1846, for Gallant and Distinguished Conduct
in the Battles of Palo Alto and Resaca-de‑la‑Palma, Tex.: Declined)

1846, — Battle of Resaca-de‑la‑Palma, May 9, 1846, — and Battle of

(Bvt. Capt., Staff — Asst. Adjutant-Gen., July 7, 1846)

Monterey, Sep. 21‑23, 1846; and, by the fall of his horse, was

Killed,b Oct. 27, 1846, at Monterey, Mex.: Aged 32.

Buried, Oak Ridge Cemetery, Springfield, IL.c

Thayer's Notes:

a The Official Register of Officers and Cadets of the U. S. Military Academy, 1833, gives Cadet Ridgely's age at admission July 1, 1832 as 17 years 10 months, which puts his birthdate around Sep. 1, 1814.

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b Here is the account of his death and his funeral in Monterey, in T. B. Thorpe, Our Army at Monterey . . . (Philadelphia, 1847):

Capt. Randolph Ridgely
Third Artillery

The arrival of the melancholy news of the death of Captain Ridgely, caused a sensation throughout the United States, that was never before created by the demise of so young an officer. After escaping death in every variety of guise upon the battle-fields, to fall by an accident was a strange providence indeed, for none could ride a spirited steed with more grace, or manage one with most judgment or dexterity. On the evening of the 25th of October, 1846, Captain Ridgely was galloping along the streets of Monterey, when his horse lost his stride, blundered along for several yards, and finally fell, throwing his rider head first on a rock. He was taken up perfectly insensible, and immediately conveyed to Capt. Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.J. B. Scott's quarters. He never regained his consciousness, and quietly breathed his last on the night of the 27th. The news of his death spread a gloom over the whole army; it was felt that one of the brightest of its lights had been extinguished.

His funeral at Monterey was one of the most magnificent and strikingly melancholy pageants that was ever witnessed; all who were "off duty" attended, to pay their last respects to the remains of the deceased soldier. The cortege was headed by his battery, four brass six-pounders. Then followed the corpse, wrapped in our national ensign, borne upon a gun-carriage, dismantled of its piece and caisson; four artillery officers walked on each side, acting as pall-bearers. Then came the dark roan steed, fully caparisoned, leadº by two dragoons; in one of the stirrups was placed his military boot and spur; his sword, sash, and glove hung from the pummel.

The Baltimore battalion, fellow-townsmen of Ridgely, next followed, without guns or side-arms, as chief mourners. The infantry officers below the grade of field-officers on foot, in order of rank and seniority, followed by the generals and field-officers, among which were Generals Taylor, Worth, Twiggs, Smith, Quitman, and Hamer. Then came a long line of subalterns in rich uniforms, mounted upon splendid horses.

As the procession moved along, dark clouds hung sullenly over the mountain-tops, and cold mists swept through the valleys. Nature seemed to sympathize with the sorrow exhibited for the departed hero. The procession halted in the rear of General Taylor's marquee, in the beautiful grove of St. Domingo, where the corpse of the unfortunate soldier was to be deposited in its last resting-place. Colonel Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Childs read the burial service of the Episcopal church, after which a gun was fired three times, and earth was rendered to earth and ashes to ashes, and the grave p137closed upon one of the most manly forms, once the abode of the noblest spirit that ever lived.*

In his person, Captain Ridgely was extremely delicate; his features, in spite of exposure to camp life, were soft, and resembled those of the secluded scholar rather than a hero of three battle-fields. His hair was light and abundant. His eye was remarkably fine in appearance, and of great natural strength; from long experience he could trace a ball or shell, which to others was invisible, through the air with great accuracy. Altogether, Randolph Ridgely was favored by nature and fortune, and belonged to a superior class of men.

In the hour of battle, Ridgely was perfectly self-possessed. His generous bravery in the battle of Resaca de la Palma, where he said, "Wait, Charley, until I draw their fire," will ever be an immortal record of the fearlessness of his soul, and of his consideration. In the midst of the severest cannonading, while the shot and shell flew around his pieces like hail, he often sprang upon the carriage, and with a spy-glass minutely watched the effect of his own discharges upon the ranks of the enemy. He expressed pleasure in the liveliest manner if he found he was doing execution, or if the enemy's shot fell short or missed their aim.

Captain Ridgely graduated from West Point, in 1837, and was appointed a second lieutenant in the Third Artillery on the 1st of July of that year. For his gallantry in the action of the 9th of May, he was brevetted captain, and appointed an assistant adjutant-general. The latter appointment he accepted, the brevet he declined, because he thought he was equally entitled to the same honor for his conduct on the 5th. His education in military matters was singularly thorough; he was a favorite pupil of Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Ringgold, and occupied his place after that officer fell at Palo Alto. His acquirements, aside from his profession, were extensive; his manners were polished, and his address that of a most perfect gentleman.

* The want of clergymen was most severely felt at Monterey, and elsewhere in Mexico; we have been informed that by a curious absurdity in the law, the chaplains of the army are not obliged to leave the barracks where they are stationed, to follow the army, hence our forces in Mexico are without ministers. The impropriety of this will strike the most superficial observer and thinker.

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c As noted on the page at Find-a‑Grave, Capt. Ridgely's burial in Springfield is not absolutely certain; for his first and possibly only temporary burial, see the preceding note. For details on the temporary Mexican burials of several American soldiers after the battle, including Ridgely, although he is not mentioned by name, see two separate pages on Pablo Ramos' blog, "La Batalla de Monterrey 1846":

1 2

The latter includes a widely syndicated article appearing in many U. S. newspapers in 2011.

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Page updated: 19 Apr 15