A Civil War Biography
Ransom was born 8 October 1826 near Warrenton, Warren County, North
Carolina. He was educated at a private academy then attended the
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill from which he graduated
in 1847. He studied the law, passed the bar, and established a law
practice in Warrenton.
Ransom entered the political arena in 1852 as a Presidential Elector
on the Whig ticket of 1852. He was elected attorney general of North
Carolina in 1852 and served until resigning in 1855. He was elected
to the North Carolina House of Commons in 1858 and served until the
term expired in 1861. In 1861 he was chosen as one of three peace
commissioners sent by North Carolina to the to the Confederate
Provisional Congress at Montgomery, Alabama.
When North Carolina left the Union, Ransom enlisted as a private in
the 1st North Carolina Infantry. He was commissioned a lieutenant
colonel on 16 May 1861and fought during the Peninsula campaign. He
was wounded twice at Malvern Hill. On 21 April 1862 he was named
colonel of the 35th North Carolina. The 35th was attached to Robert
Ransom's, Matt's West Point educated younger brother's, brigade in
James Longstreet's command. Matt commanded the 35th at Sharpsburg
and Fredericksburg. Following Fredericksburg Robert Ransom's
brigade, including Matt's regiment, was transferred to North
Carolina. Matt was promoted to brigadier general on 13 June 1863 and
took over command of his brother's brigade when Robert Ransom was
given command at the division level.
Matt Ransom commanded the brigade at Plymouth and Weldon in North
Carolina then at Suffolk in southeastern Virginia. He was wounded
during the fighting at Drewry's in May 1864. He returned to command
after the brigade was absorbed into the Army of Northern Virginia.
He commanded the brigade through parts of the Petersburg siege then
surrendered what was left of the brigade, that was shattered at Five
Forks and Sayler's Creek, at Appomattox.
Following the war he returned to North Carolina relocating in 1866
to Weldon where he continued practicing law and became a planter. He
was elected to the US Senate in 1872 to fill a vacancy in the term
that was to have begun on 4 March 1871. He remained in the Senate
until 3 March 1895 after failing in a reelected bid in 1894. Ransom
would then serve two years as US Minister to Mexico from 1895 until
1897. He died 8 October 1904 on his estate near Garysburg,
Northampton County, North Carolina.
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