Officers of the Battery - War of the Rebellion
"Primus Inter Pares" - First Among Equals
Capt. James B. Ricketts
Capt. James B. Ricketts was the first commanding officer of the Battery during the Civil War. Althoug his command of the battery was for a very short period during active campaigning. Battery I 1st US Artillery in 1861 is known as "Ricketts Battery".
Born June 21, 1817, native of New York City, James B,. Ricketts was appointed to the United States Military Academy in 1835 and graduated in the class of 1839.
His pre-Civil War career as officer of artillery was unexceptional. He received no brevet promotions in the Mexican War, although he took part in battles of Monterey, and Buena Vista.
He was made a Captain in 1852, and at First Manassas, July 21, 1861, he commanded a battery attached to Franklin's Brigade of Heintzelman's Division. During this battle, he was shot four times and taken prisoner by Confederates, not being exchanged until January 1862.
He was breveted Major General of Volunteers, August 1, 1864, and in the Regular Army as of March 13, 1865. On January 3, 1867, he retired from active service as a Major General for disability from wounds received in battle; however, he continued to do court-martial duty until 1869. He lived in Washington, D.C. until his death, September 22, 1887.
Information furnished by Arlington National Cemetery.
Links to info on James B. Ricketts:
Lt. Edmund Kirby
Lt. Kirby was born 11 March 1840 in Brownsville, New York. He entered West Point in 1856 and was graduated with the May class of 1861. Kirby was assigned as a 2nd lieutenant in Battery I of the 1st US Artillery on 6 May 1861. He was promoted to 1st lieutenant 8 days later on 14 May. He saw action at First Bull Run and then commanded his battery in the II Corps during the Peninsula campaign at Yorktown, Seven Pines and during the Seven Days battles. He continued in command of the battery at Fredericksburg and Antietam.
At Chancellorsville he commanded the 5th Maine battery which had lost all its officers. in the fighting through 3 May 1863. While trying to remove an exposed gun he fell wounded with a fractured thigh. He insisted the guns be removed before he was carried from the field. Kirby, who came from a military family which included combatants on both sides, was visited by Abraham Lincoln in the hospital on 23 May 1863. Kirby's wound had become infected and even amputation wouldn't save the young officer. Kirby told Lincoln that his concern was for his widowed mother and his sisters. Lincoln had Kirby promoted to brigadier general of US volunteers so that his mother would receive a larger pension. The promotion was dated 28 May 1863, the day that Kirby died.
Links to info on Lt. Edmund Kirby:
Lt. George A. Woodruff "Little Dad"
Lieutenant George A. Woodruff (1840-1863) graduated early from West Point because of the start of the Civil War. Young Woodruff served valiantly with the Army of the Potomac. At Gettysburg he was mortally wounded while defending the center of the Union line with his First U.S. Field Artillery (Battery I) against General George Pickett's Confederate charge on July 3, 1863. Lingering through the night, George Woodruff died the following day.
From the Gettysburg Marker:
July 2&3. Arrived and took position in Ziegler's Grove on the left of Evergreen Cemetery. Actively engaged and assisted in repelling Longstreet's Assault. Lieut. Woodruff was mortally wounded on the 3d and the command devolved on Lieut. Tully McCrea.
Links to info on Lt. Woodruff :
Lt. Tully McCrea
Lieut. Tully McCrea. graduated from West Point with the class of 1862. His roomate during his academy years was George A. Custer. Upon graduation he was commissioned a 2nd Lt. in the 1st US Artillery and assigned a section command in Battery I 1st US. Well liked and respected by his fellow officers he quickly demonstrated great qualities of a professional soldier. At the battle of Gettysburg he commanded the left section during Pickett's charge. When Lt. Woodruff was wounded during the assualt Lt. McCrea took command of the battery. After the action was completed the artillery brigade the battery was attached to was severly depleted in officers, men and horses. Battery I lost it's CO and 24 men killed and wounded. Lt. McCrea was also temporarly assigned command over Battery A , 4th US (Cushing's Battery) seeing as a majority of it's officers were killed or wounded in action. Unfortunatly after Gettysburg due to Army politics Lt. McCrea was never officially given full long term command of the Battery. He was superceded by Lt. French who had higher connections in the Army's General Officers. After only a few months after Gettysbur Lt. McCrea transferred out of Battery I to further pursue his career advancement. He would retire from army life in 1903 a Brigadier General.
Links to info on Lt. Tully McCrea :
Lt. Frank French (1842 - 1865)
First Lieutenant F.L. French was the son of Major General William H. French of the 1st U.S. Artillery. Lieut. Francis L. (“Frank” Sands) French was commissioned into the U.S. Regular Army (Artillery) on Sept. 27, 1861, assigned to the 1st U.S. artillery, Battery I., his father’s old battery.
Lieut. French was seriously wounded at the fierce Battle of Ball’s Bluff, Va. on October 21, 1861. All of the men in his detachment were either killed or wounded. Lt. French returned to duty before completely recovering from his wounds and he continued to serve with distinction, participating in many subsequent major battles of the Civil War. He was given Command of Battery I 1st US After Gettysburg. He eventually was transferred to additional artillery commands of Batteries E & G. He was field promoted several times, rising to the level of brevet Lieut. Colonel. He died of tuberculosis on September 4, 1865, his weakened state undoubtedly aggravated by his war wounds and years of hard war service. He was 23 years old at the time of his death.
Left Image: Mjr. Gen W.H. French and Staff including his son, Lt. Frank French. is seated 2nd from the left.
Links to info on Lt. Frank French:
Alanson Randol graduated from West Point with the class of 1860 in July. He was commissioned a 2nd Lt. in the Artillery. He spent numerous months in the 4th US Regt. of Artillery before joining the 1st US Artillery with Battery I. He was promoted to 1st LT. soon after in 1861. He was then transfered to the 3rd US Artillery and Promoted to Captain in 1862.
Eventually after Gettysburg he would come back to command Battery I 1st US Artillery After Lt. French in 1864-65. From our research and knowledge he is the last Commanding officer of the Battery during the war years. It is interesting to note that he also commanded a calvery regiment late in the war as well. After the war he served in numerous posts achieving the rank of Major in the US Army. He was breveted for gallantry to a rank of General of Volunteers. He would come back later in the 1870s & 80s to command Battery I 1st US Artillery until his death.
Links to info on Captain A.M. Randol: