1861 – 1865 – Confederate Calvary Officer

Date:  1861 – 1865

Location:  Clarke Co., GA and locations in Virginia (including a Union prison)

Source:  Confederate Military History: A Library of Confederate States History, in Seventeen Volumes, Written by Distinguished Men of the South, Clement A. Evans, (Wilmington, North Carolina: Broadfoot Publishing Company, 1899), 6:944-945, 16 Feb 2007.

Rank:  Captain, Company H, Calvary Battalion of Cobb’s Legion

“Captain Jeremiah E. Ritch, of Athens, commander of Cobb-Deloney camp, United Confederate veterans, was born in Habersham county, Ga., December 7, 1829, son of Charles Ritch, a farmer, and his wife, Sarah Taylor.

His family has rendered honorable service in the wars of the country, both his grandfathers, William Ritch and Jeremiah Taylor, being soldiers of the Revolution; his father taking part in the battle of New Orleans under Gen. Andrew Jackson, and Captain Ritch’s two elder brothers participating in wars antedating the Confederacy, William C. in the Florida Indian war, and F. F. A. in the war with Mexico.

Captain Ritch was educated at Clarksville academy, and coming to Athens in early manhood found employment as a mercantile clerk. By industry and economy he was able, in 1854, to become a partner in a business which was yielding a handsome profit when the war began in 1861. He did not hesitate, however, to enter the military service.

He was already a member of the Georgia Troopers, at Athens, a company composed of the best young men of the city, and commanded by Capt. William D. Deloney, which had been organized about two years before. He busied himself in recruiting this company to full strength, and accepted the rank of third lieutenant at the organization for Confederate service. His command became one of the cavalry companies of Thomas R. R. Cobb’s legion, composed of four companies of cavalry, eight of infantry, and one battery, the Troup Artillery. He went to Virginia with the legion and passed the winter on the peninsula.

Returning to Georgia in the spring of 1862, he organized another company, of which he was elected captain, Company H of the cavalry battalion of Cobb’s legion. In command of this company with the famous cavalry under Gen. J. E. B. Stuart, he participated in the Seven Days’ battles about Richmond and the Second Manassas campaign.

By this time he had been advanced to the command of the sharpshooters of Gen. Wade Hampton’s brigade, including his own and other companies, and in this capacity was distinguished in the cavalry battle of Brandy Station, August 20, 1862. Here many of his men were killed and wounded, and he was himself wounded in the head by a saber cut and captured. This ended his career on the field, as he was held at the Old Capitol prison at Washington four months and at Johnson’s Island nineteen months.

While at Old Capitol he was one of nine prisoners compelled to draw lots, preparatory to the execution of two of their number in retaliations, but fortunately escaped the fatal allotment. When finally released and sent to Richmond, it was on parole, and in the closing months of the war he was not able to obtain an exchange.

Captain Ritch has been a citizen of Athens since the war, and busied as a merchant and farmer. He is an enthusiastic member of the United Confederate veterans, and for several terms has been honored with the command of Cobb-Deloney camp.

By his marriage, in 1855, to Jane Alexander, he has one son and three daughters living. One of his sons, John L. Ritch, was a sergeant in the United States army during the Spanish war and in the Philippine islands, and died on January 26, 1900, from disease contracted in the service.

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