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Col. James Clay Rice Lobbies for Military Promotions
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“This regiment is equal in bravery to a brigade… the boys are here who can fill [the] positions.”

JAMES CLAY RICE. Autograph Letter Signed, to William Kidd, Esq., Head Quarters 44th [New York Volunteers] Camp near Falmouth, Virginia, March 14, 1863. 2pp.

Inventory #11625       Price: $2,500

Complete Transcript

Head Quarters 44th N.Y.V.of the Army,                   

Camp near Falmouth, Va.                   

March 14th, 1863         

Wm Kidd Esq.

            Military Secretary


My dear Sir,

            Yours of the 4th inst. has been rec’d. I shall take the first opportunity to appoint Sergeant Dempsey a Second Lieutenant in accordance with your wishes. I am recommending a good many men from this regiment to promotions in other positions in the gift of Gov. Seymour, but all recommendations which I sign for positions in this regiment, I send officially to Adjt. Genl. Sprague. The Governor has appointed Watson & Adsit by mistake to Lieutenants position in this regiment. Will you be so kind as to speak to General Sprague in regard to this, so that no mistakes may happen hereafter. Watson & Adsit, pass over many deserving Sergeants and Second Lieutenants, and this causes much trouble. I hope it will not happen hereafter, since all promotions in this regiment are officially sent by mail to General Sprague. My name was not sent up by the President to the Senate as Brigadier General. The announcement in the Albany Evening Journal was premature. This regiment is equal in bravery to a brigade, and it will accomplish as much as most brigades in any battle. Whenever you see a chance to make a Major, Captain, 1st or 2d Lieutenant let me know, for the boys are here who can fill their positions.

                                                                        I am very sincerely,

                                                                                    Your friend

                                                                                    COL. J.C. RICE

James Clay Rice (1829-1864) was a Union Brigadier General born in Worthington, Massachusetts. With little prior formal education, he entered Yale University and graduated in 1854. He then moved to Mississippi, where he taught school, edited a literary magazine, and studied law. He returned to New York and practiced law before enlisting in the 39th New York Infantry Regiment in May 1861. He advanced to Captain, and the Lieutenant Colonel, then Colonel of the 44th New York Volunteer Regiment, leading it throughout General George B. McClellan’s Peninsula Campaign. Rice saw service in the First and Second Battles of Bull Run, and the Battles of Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville. At Gettysburg, he performed heroic service on Little Round Top, leading to appointment his as Brigadier General. He served at the beginning of the Wilderness Campaign, and at the battle of Spotsylvania Courthouse on May 10, 1864, his thigh was shattered by a rifle ball, which necessitated amputation of his leg. He died shortly after the procedure. When the surgeon asked him on which side he would rest more comfortably, he replied, “Turn me over that I may die with my face to the enemy.”

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