December 12, 2014

Better Know an Officer -- Lieut. Henry Ransing

Detail of Sword Presented to Lieut. Henry Ransing (Sold on Heritage Auctions in 2014)
Lieut. Henry Ransing
(79th PA Officers Oval)
Name: Henry Ransing
Birth: September 15, 1838 (Holland)
Occupation: Attended Lancaster city public schools; Worked in cotton mill from age 13
Church/Religion: Roman Catholic
Term of Service: Enlisted in Company G, 79th Pa, on 10/3/1861. Promoted to 1st Sgt., 2nd Lt, dates unknown.
Notable Events: All battles with 79th Pa.; Clothing perforated by 16 bullets at Bentonville; Chickamauga monument committee
Post-war:  Watchman; Mill overseer, Grocer, Hotel Keeper
Death: May 19, 1900 (St. Anthony's Roman Catholic Cemetery)

Yesterday, blog reader Glenn Benner contacted me to let me know that he had documented the grave of Lieut. Henry Ransing of Company G, 79th PA, on Find a Grave.  Not knowing anything about Ransing, I entered his name as a Google search and was surprised to see his presentation sword scheduled for auction today by Heritage Auctions (it sold for almost $6,000).

So, to give Lieut. Ransing his due, here is his Biographical Annals entry, accompanied by some pictures of the sword.  (Source: Biographical Annals of Lancaster Co., Pa., 1903 by J. H. Beers & Co., page 1129-1130.)

CAPT. HENRY RANSING (deceased) was a son of George Hiram Ransing, who died in Holland, and whose widow came to the United States when Henry was a lad of two years of age. She became the owner of the land between East Orange, Plum, Marion and Center streets, and this land she sold little by little as the march of improvement took its course in that direction.

Henry Ransing was educated in the Lancaster public schools, and at the age of thirteen years entered a cotton mill, where he worked until the breaking out of the Rebellion. At that time he enlisted as a private in Co. G, 79th P. V. I., and at the end of his first term of enlistment, he re-enlisted for the war. He rose rapidly and presently attained the rank of captain. When the company came back in which he first enlisted, he was its captain, though only nine of the original members survived the dangers of war. He was in twenty-seven battles and eighteen skirmishes in the Western Army, but was never wounded. though at the battle of Bentonville his clothing was perforated by sixteen bullets. After the war Capt. Ransing was presented by the members of his company with a magnificent sword, sash, belt and epaulets, the sword bearing this inscription: "Presented to Capt. Ransing by the members of Company G, 79th regiment of Pennsylvania Veteran Volunteer Infantry, as a token of respect and friendship; and for the gallantry displayed in all the battles in which he participated." Capt. Ransing was a member of the Committee on the Monument to the memory of the men of the 79th P. V. I, who fell at Chickamauga.

The war ended, Capt. Ransing became an overseer in the Lancaster Fulton Cotton Mills, where he remained until the factory was partially destroyed by the explosion of the boiler. After this he gave up his position in the mill, on account of the objection of his wife to his being in what she regarded as a dangerous place, though he was in the line of promotion to the superintendency. Capt. Ransing engaged in business, opening a small grocery, which soon assumed large proportions under his close and careful management, soon necessitating the construction of the fine brick building on East Orange street, where for ten years a successful business was carried on. At the end of that time this building and business was converted into a hotel, for which he secured a license, and established the "East End Hotel." After a prolonged absence from the hotel, and a residence in another part of the city, Capt. Ransing finally returned to it, where he died May 19, 1900, deeply regretted far and wide. The following poem was published in the New Era, shortly after his death:


We mourn. but we comfort feel.
When of our friend we're thinking.
That when on him Death pressed the seal
He died brave and unshrinking.

He feared not death: Why should he fear?
He who with musket's rattle
And shot and shell and wildest cheer
Feared not the bloody battle!

No mocking yell his soul could quell;
He fought to save the Union;
Stood like a rock while others fell,
Stood firm against disunion.

He rose from private rank to lead
The gallant volunteers.
He rose from merit and with speed,
Rose with his comrade's cheers.

They honored him by act and word,
And to attest their feeling,
They gave to him a handsome sword,
Their deep love thus revealing.

The war was o'er. His sword was sheathed.
And doing good to others,
No gentler, kindlier heart e'er breathed,
Beloved by all his brothers.

For all the world to his kind heart,
Were just like sisters, brothers;
He never failed to do his part,
In lending help to others.

His soul's at rest; his battle's done.
He's done with care and striving;
He left a light like noonday sun
To comfort the surviving.

To danger he was first to go,
None quicker in advancing,
No braver man e'er met a foe.
Than gallant Captain Ransing.

Capt. Ransing was married in 1866, to Rose Roth, who survives him, as does his only son, Henry Edward. The latter was born Sept. 16, 1877, and after securing a partial education in St. Anthony's parochial school, finished his education in Franklin and Marshall College, but was compelled to leave school before graduation that he might assist his father, who became seriously ill three years before his death. Henry E. Ransing has since succeeded to the hotel business. He was married Sept. 20, 1900.

Capt. Ransing was a devout Catholic, having taken his first communion at old St. Mary's Church when twelve years old. In his later years he was associated with St. Anthony's Church. He was the founder of St. Michael's Catholic Benevolent Society, and was chief marshal of the great parades that attended the laying of the corner stone of St. Anthony's Church, at the dedication of St. Anthony's Institute, and at other notable Catholic occasions in this city, besides leading his society frequently to other cities to participate in prominent events. Few men indeed were better known in Lancaster than Capt. Henry Ransing, and none more esteemed.

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