A Civil War Biography

Israel Bush Richardson

Richardson, a direct descendant of Revolutionary War general Israel Putnam, was born 26 December 1815 in Fairfax, Vermont. It took him 5 years, having entered West Point in 1836, but he finally graduated 38th in the class of 1841. He was assigned as a brevet 2nd lieutenant on 1 July 1841 in the 3rd infantry. Promotion to 2nd lieutenant came on 30 September 1841. He fought the Seminoles in Florida and was stationed at various posts on the frontier including Jefferson Barracks, Missouri and Fort Jesup, Louisiana, before being part of the US occupation forces in Texas. He was promoted to 1st lieutenant on 21 September 1846. He was brevetted twice for gallantry during the war with Mexico then served on the frontier in Texas and New Mexico. He was promoted to captain on 5 March 1851 and still held that rank on 30 September 1855 when he resigned from the army. Richardson settled on a farm near Pontiac, Michigan.

When civil war erupted Richardson helped raise and was appointed colonel of the 2nd Michigan infantry regiment on 25 May 1861. When he arrived with his regiment in Washington, D.C. it is said Winfield Scott, with whom Richardson served in Mexico, personally greeted his "fighting Dick" as Richardson had become known during the Mexican war. On 2 July 1861 he was given command of the 4th brigade in the 1st division. He commanded this brigade at First Bull Run and was praised for covering the retreat of Irvin McDowell's routed army. Richardson was promoted to brigadier general of volunteers on 9 August 1861 to rank from 17 May 1861 and commanded the 1st division of Edward V. Sumner's II Corps during the peninsula campaign particularly distinguishing himself at Chickahominy. Richardson was promoted to major general of volunteers on 4 July 1862. He remained in command of the 1st division, II Corps fighting at South Mountain where for a time he commanded the corps and at Antietam where on 17 September 1862 while organizing an attack on the sunken road, he was wounded by a Confederate artillery shell. Carried to the rear, Richardson was taken to the Pry House, George B. McClellan's headquarters in Sharpsburg, Maryland, where Richardson died 3 November 1862.

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