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Abraham H. Ryan, U.S.V.
Colonel Abraham H. Ryan, U.S.V.
Colonel Abraham H. Ryan was born in New York City February, 1837,
removing to Illinois when a boy. At the first call to arms, in 1861, he
assisted in organizing Company A, Seventeenth Volunteer Infantry, and was
elected first lieutenant. On the organization of the regiment he was
appointed adjutant. In July, 1861, the regiment was ordered on active
service in the States of Missouri and Kentucky; February, 1862, with
Grant's army at capture of Fort Henry; thence to Fort Donelson, where, as
adjutant of the Third Brigade, McClernand's Division, he was twice
wounded, losing the hearing of right ear, but continued on duty; thence to
Pittsburg Landing, or Shiloh. About 9 A.M. of the first day of the battle,
Colonel Raith, commanding the brigade, fell mortally wounded; falling, he
ordered Adjutant Ryan to inform Lieutenant-Colonel Wood to take command of
the brigade. Such was the closeness of the enemy and severity of the fight
that he could not transmit the order. Knowing the movement that Colonel
Raith had in hand when he fell, Adjutant Ryan continued it, and for nearly
two hours commanded the brigade, when, the ammunition being exhausted,
withdrew it in good order, forming line with the division and turning over
the command to Lieutenant-Colonel Wood. For the handling of the brigade in
action he was complimented by his general of division, and ordered to make
written report of the same (see Volume X., series 1, page 139, "Official
Reports of the War"), the only instance during the war of an officer of
the rank of first lieutenant and youngest in years commanding a brigade in
a pitched battle. During the battle he had two horses shot under him. For
meritorious services he was promoted captain. He continued with his
command throughout the approach and capture of Corinth.
In May, 1862, he was detailed chief of staff of Brigadier-General L. F.
Ross, continuing in active service and in various engagements in West
Tennessee and Northern Mississippi; in battles of Iuka, Corinth, Hatchee,
etc.; thence with General Grant's army
through the State of Mississippi to Oxford and Grenada; thence to Memphis
and Helena,-still as chief of staff through the whole of the Yazoo Pass
Expedition, when he was again wounded while reconnoitering approaches to
Fort Pemberton. He was next ordered to Milliken's Bend, Louisiana, and was
with the army in its movements for the capture of Vicksburg; was on
gun-boat "General Price" during the bombardment of Grand Gulf, running the
batteries at night on steamer "Forest Queen." When
General Grant decided to land his army
at Bruinsburg, Captain Ryan volunteered to convey orders to
General Sherman to withdraw his army
corps from the Yazoo and follow Grant's. To do this he had to ride about
fifty miles through the enemy's country at night. His instructions were to
swallow the dispatch if in danger of falling into the hands of the enemy.
||After Vicksburg he was assigned
to duty on the staff of Major-General Frederick Steele, commanding
the Army of Arkansas. He was in all the movements and engagements
culminating in the capture of Little Rock, September, 1863, having
command of a squadron of cavalry, and was the first to enter the
city and State House. Soon after he was assigned by General Steele
to superintend the organization of Arkansas troops, and on February
10, 1864, was mustered in as colonel of the Third Regiment of
Arkansas Cavalry, and assigned to the command of the posts of
Lewisburg and Dardanelles. Here, on outpost duty, he maintained his
position until the close of the war, constantly on the move,
fighting engagements of Cypress Creek, Dardanelles, etc., and in
movements against Price, Shelby, and others of the Confederate
After the war closed, Colonel Ryan embarked in business in Little
Rock, Arkansas, and for several years was general manager of the
Little Rock, Mississippi River & Ouchita Railroad.
In August, 1873, while on a visit to Cape Cod, Massachusetts, he was
presented by citizens of Falmouth, Massachusetts, with a gold medal, and
by the Humane Society of Massachusetts with their highest testimonial
medal of the society, for saving the lives of two ladies from drowning,
and rescuing the persons of three others drowned in the waters of Buzzard
In 1880 he removed to Fast Orange, New Jersey, where he still resides,
taking an interest in all things pertaining to the welfare of the town,
having served seven years as a trustee of the schools, and five years
member of the Township Committee. He is president of the Savings
Investment and Trust Company, and president of the Orange Art Association.
Source: Officers of the Volunteer Army and Navy who
served in the Civil War, published by L.R. Hamersly & Co., 1893, 419
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