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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 armies.

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 Bay.

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 pgs.

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