Monday, January 31, 2011

Fighting Dick

Israel Bush Richardson

       Israel Bush Richardson was born in 1815 in Vermont. Supposedly a descendant of Revolutionary War hero Israel Putnam, he gained entry to the United States Military Academy. He graduated 38 out of 58 cadets in the West Point Class of 1841. He saw action in the Second Seminole War. He gained quite a bit of fame from his action during the Mexican War. It would be in Mexico that he earned the nickname, "Fighting Dick." 
       He left the army in 1855 to take up farming in Michigan. When the Civil War began, he helped organize the 2nd Michigan Infantry. He married Fannie Travor in early 1861. His regiment was sent to Washington where he again met Winfield Scott. Upon seeing him, Scott exclaimed, "I'm glad to have my 'Fighting Dick' with me again." 
       He disobeyed orders at Blackburn's Ford and engaged Longstreet against Federal General McDowell's wishes. His brigade was repulsed there, but he made up for this by covering the rearguard during the retreat to Washington. Following this action he was promoted to brigadier general. 
       He commanded a brigade during the Peninsula Campaign, seeing action at Yorktown, Seven Pines and the Seven Days battles. After the campaign, he was promoted to major general. He was engaged at Second Manassas and South Mountain. 
       Richardson would see his last action at Antietam. His troops smashed through the center of the Confederate line at what would later become known as 'Bloody Lane' and was in position to break Lee's army in half. Taking the lane, his men were hit by severe artillery fire from the Confederate reserve. He was talking with one of his artillery officers when an exploding shell sent shrapnel into his side, chest and shoulder. 

Site where Richardson was wounded

       While being carried from the field, he told a surgeon, "Tell General McClellan I have been in the front rank doing the duty of a colonel. I have done a hard days work, and have worked all day. I am wounded and he must detail someone to take my command."
        The wound was not considered to be dangerous. He was carried to the Phillip Pry house, the home McClellan used as his headquarters. Surgeons stopped the bleeding. President Abraham Lincoln visited Richardson in October, but infection set in, followed by pneumonia. He died in November. 

Phillip Pry House

       Richardson was forty-six years old. Nicknamed "Fighting Dick" and also "Greasy Dick" because of his fighting prowess. He was known for his courage in combat and was perfectly fearless in action. Fort Richardson in Texas is named for him. He rests in Oak Hill Cemetery, Pontiac, Michigan. 

Richardson's grave

       Not known for his social skills, his men loved him. He had said to them, "I won't ask you to go anywhere I won't go myself."
       I wonder if Todd Richardson, a good friend of mine, would deny being related to Israel Bush Richardson. Being a lieutenant in the 26th Alabama Infantry re-enacting group, I'm sure he would deny this. Maybe, I'll just nickname him "Greasy Dick."


  1. He might not appreciate that! Lol!

  2. good blog about a brave courageous leader, thanks