Americus Vespucius Rice


Americus Vespucius Rice was born November 18, 1835, in Perryville, Ohio. He attended Antioch College for a time but was graduated from Union College, Schenectady, New York, in 1860. Rice was studying law when, two weeks after the fall of Sumter, he was mustered into the service of the United States as a captain of the 21st Ohio, a three-month regiment which saw some service in western Virginia. It was mustered out in August, and the following month he was re-mustered as a captain of the 57th Ohio which was enlisted for three years or the duration of the war. At Shiloh as a part of Sherman's division, the regiment numbered only 450 for duty because of illness; it then sustained 187 casualties while defending the little meetinghouse, which gave its name to the battle. Rice had been promoted to lieutenant colonel of the regiment in February and led it at Shiloh as well as at Chickasaw Bayou. In the successful attack on Arkansas Post, he was warmly commended for his services by Giles Smith, who commanded the brigade on Rice's left. On May 24, 1863, he became colonel of the 57th Ohio and served during the Vicksburg and the Atlanta campaigns. While in command of his regiment he was wounded on June 27, 1864, at Ken-nesaw Mountain and was unable to rejoin the army until June 23, 1865, when, as a brigadier general of volunteers appointed on May 31, he took command of the 3rd Brigade, 2nd Division, of the XV Corps. Rice, one of the youngest general officers recruited from civilian life, was neither a Radical, nor even a Republican. After being mustered out in 1866, he became a banker in Ottawa, Ohio, was a delegate to the 1872 National Democratic Convention, and served as a Democratic member of Congress from 1875 to 1879 (he did not stand for reelection in 1878). In the later years of his life General Rice engaged in business in his home town, acted as state pension agent, and in 1898 moved to Washington where he was appointed purchasing agent of the U. S. Census Bureau—a position which he held at the time of his death, April 4, 1904. He was buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

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Reference: Generals in Blue. Lives of the Union Commanders by Ezra J. Warner. Louisiana State University Press. Baton Rouge.