Brought to you by the Sullivan Museum and History Center

#130 The Ransom Family Legacy Extends Far Beyond Truman

Jeff Dobbin 200 Things about Norwich, Norwich Was There

Thomas Ransom

All three of Truman Ransom’s surviving sons attended Norwich University and served in the Civil War, one as a high-ranking Union general. They were 16, 14, and six years old when their father died.

Truman Ransom’s eldest son was Dunbar Richard Ransom. He was born in 1831 to Truman and his wife Margaretta, the first of their seven children. His birth took place in Fayetteville, North Carolina, where Truman Ransom was occupied in setting up a military academy in the style of his mentor, Alden Partridge. Dunbar Ransom attended West Point for a time but eventually graduated from Norwich in 1851. He received appointment as a second lieutenant in 1855 and served as an artillery officer during and after the Civil War. He died in Fort Worth, Texas, in 1897.

Thomas Edwin Greenfield Ransom was born back in Norwich, Vermont, in 1834, the same year that his father’s alma mater, his future alma mater, received a charter from the State of Vermont and became known as Norwich University. He graduated in the same NU class as his older brother Dunbar, also completing his studies in 1851.

The Ransom family

After graduating from Norwich, Thomas Ransom traveled west with his teenaged brother Frederick to work as a railroad engineer in Illinois. When the Civil War broke out, he raised a company of volunteers for the 11th Illinois Infantry. He was promoted—and wounded—many times during the war. When died of illness in Georgia in 1864, he was promoted posthumously to the rank of major general. A historical marker was erected at the site of his death in 2001, making him the only known Union Army general to be honored with an individual memorial in a Southern state.

After Thomas was born in 1834, Truman and Margaretta Ransom had a son, George, and a daughter, Mary, who both died as young children. Their youngest surviving son was Frederick Eugene Ransom, born in 1841, who as a teenager accompanied his older brother Thomas out west to Illinois. Though much younger than his brothers, he too joined the Union Army when the Civil War broke out, serving in his brother Thomas’ unit.

Frederick was captured as a prisoner of war in Tennessee in 1862, paroled after eight months, and spent six months in the hospital before rejoining his regiment. After the war, he attended Norwich briefly from 1865 to 1866, but departed after the South Barracks fire in March 1866. Assisted by his late brother Thomas’s classmate and friend Grenville Dodge, he secured employment with the Union Pacific Railroad and went on to a career as an engineer. His health suffered greatly throughout his life, and he passed away at a soldiers’ home in Illinois around 1918.

Truman Ransom died tragically young fighting for his country, when he had only just begun to make his mark on his beloved Norwich University. Through his sons, the Ransom family continued his legacy at Norwich and in the world for decades after he was gone.