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The Schroeder Books

Four Years in the First New York Light Artillery:  The Papers of David F. Ritchie

Edited by Norman L. Ritchie

Published by SCHROEDER PUBLICATIONS 2012.  259 Pages. Soft cover. ISBN: 1-889246-61-1. Price: $19.99 U.S.

Because David F. Ritchie was a war correspondent as well as a combatant, his articles to the Utica Morning Herald and his letters home carried detailed descriptions and penetrating analyses of his war experiences.  His use of the written language and his powers of observation were exceptional.  Richie’s report of the fighting at Seven Pines, for example, is one of the best in the annals of Civil War artillery.

                As an intimate of a number of Washington, DC, notables (e.g. Congressman Roscoe Conkling of Utica, he travelled in the whirlwind of society of Washington during his brief stays in camp nearby, and offered extensive insight into the social and cultural history of the Capital during the war years.  No less compelling are his observations of the civilian population of Virginia from bewildered, suddenly freed slaves to wives of the absent plantation owners.

                Politically astute and broadly read, Ritchie often struggled with the conflict between duty to country, reinforced by a consummate abhorrence of the Copperheads and frustration at the slow workings of the military and political prosecution of the war.  His analyses of McClellan and grant are direct and convincing.

                Born in 1840, Ritchie enlisted in April 1861.  He served briefly with the 14th New York Infantry, then received a commission in Battery A, (the Empire Battery) of the 1st New York Light Artillery.  He rose to Captain in command of Battery C and was brevetted major for gallantry at Petersburg.  He also fought in the Peninsular Campaign, at Seven Pines (Fair Oaks), Spotsylvania, the North Anna, Cold Harbor, and Peeble’s Farm.

                Following the war Ritchie settled in Saratoga Springs, NY, where he died in 1899.

“They come from the forests and coasts of stern old Maine with sinews that have conquered the giant forests.  They have come from New England homes, exchanging the clang and buzz of their living machines for the din of war.  From the Iron State they come; from blooming New Jersey and little Rhody; and from proud regions of the Empire State swarm strong-hearted men and true, who have left the ledger on the desk, Coke and Blackstone neglected, the plough in the hands of sons or brothers, the hammer unswung, the forge unblown—all for their country.”  --David F. Ritchie


Four Years in the New York Light Artillery book

Four Years in the First New York Light Artillery:

The Papers of David F. Ritchie



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