Reuben Reddick Ross

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Reuben Reddick Ross was born on April 17, 1830, in Montgomery County, Tennessee, the son of James and Mary (Barker) Ross. His father was a professor at the Masonic College in Clarksville; his grandfather, for whom he was named, was a prominent Baptist leader. The family had farmlands in both Kentucky and Tennessee. The younger Ross studied under his father prior to an appointment to West Point. Entering in 1849, Ross graduated in 1853, fifty-first in a class of fifty-two. Commissioned a second lieutenant of infantry, Ross served less than one year in garrison at Newport Barracks, Kentucky. Ross resigned from the army on January 25,1854, to become an engineer for the Memphis and Tennessee Railroad, a move motivated by his desire to return to Tennessee. From 1855 to 1861 he taught school near Clarksville with his father.

When the war started Ross was appointed captain of artillery by the governor of Tennessee. He served as drillmaster for the Maury County artillery (Sparkman's Tennessee light artillery company). In November, 1861, Captain Ross was elected lieutenant colonel of the 8th Kentucky Infantry, but did not teceive a commission because charges were made against him on unspecified grounds. Ross was later cleared by a court of inquiry, but the charges hampered his future promotion. Again captain of the Maury artillery, Ross was ordered to Fort Donelson, arriving on February 11, 1862, just before the naval attack. Taking charge of the heavy artillery, he personally managed the one effective cannon that almost single-handedly stopped Foote's fleet. Taken prisoner with the rest of the garrison, Ross was paroled to his Clarksville home. Traveling to Kentucky to report to the Union authorities, he was thrown into jail on trumped-up charges by Union troops. Imprisoned in various Federal camps, Ross was not exchanged until October, 1862. Ross then requested a cavalry command, but none was forthcoming. Promoted to lieutenant colonel in 1863, Ross obtained a position as acting assistant adjutant general on the staff of Brigadier General Henry B. Davidson, a West Point classmate who commanded a cavalry brigade in the Army of Tennessee. In 1864 Ross was again captured. While being carried north to prison, he jumped from a moving train near Cincinnati and, although injured in the fall, escaped and made his way south. Meeting up with Confederate cavalry under Brigadier General Hylan B. Lyon, Ross joined them. Lyon was in the middle of a raid into Kentucky, in conjunction with John Bell Hood's Tennessee campaign. Ross became involved in an action near Hopkinsville on December 16. "He and a portion of his command were cut off," and in a hand-to-hand encounter, Ross was clubbed over the head with a rifle. He survived, unconscious, for several days in a Hopkinsville house, finally dying on December 21. Ross is buried in Meriwether Cemetery in Meriville, Kentucky.

CV has Ross appointed brigadier general from Texas in 1865, perhaps confusing him with General L. S. Ross of Texas. Cullum says he was made a general posthumously. SHSP has Ross leading Humes's brigade as a general. While contemporaries seemed to believe he was appointed general in some fashion, no record of such a promotion exists.

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Reference: More Generals in Gray. Bruce S. Allardice. A companion volume to Generals in Gray. Louisiana State University Press. Baton Rouge. LA.