About Rice Evan Graves, Jr.
Major Rice E. Graves (Confederate) was a member of the famous Kentucky Orphan's Brigade. He attended West Point but due to the Civil War was unable to complete his studies. He volunteered and entered as a first lieutenant and adjutant. In November 1861 he was placed in charge of a battery of field-pieces, he quickly rose to the rank of Captain and commanded what became known as Graves Battery.
When General Breckenridge reorganized a division at Murfeesboro, Graves was named Chief of Artillery and soon attained the rank of Major. At Stone River he was wounded twice and even had his horse shot under him. He proved himself a superior soldier and artillerest, so good in fact that after the war General Grant inquired who commanded that battery? Noting that whereever he tried to move or conceal his men, the cannons of Major Graves found him!
Major Graves received a temporary promotion by General Breckinridge to Assistant Inspector General on 9 August 1863.
Major Graves was killed in The Battle of Chickamauga 20 September 1863. The following eulogy was entered by General Brekinridge in his report of the battle "One member of my staff I cannot thank; Major Rice E. Graves, Chief of Artillery, received a mortal wound on Sunday,the 20th (Sepember 1863). Although a young man, he had won eminence in arms, and gave promise of the highest distinction. A truer friend, a purer patriot, a better soldier, never lived."
Major Rice E. Graves, Jr. (1838–1863)
Graves was born in Rockbridge, Virginia but grew up near Yelvington, Daviess County ,Kentucky (12 miles east of Owensboro, Kentucky) after a near tragedy in 1844 interrupted his family's planned move to St. Louis. His parents, Rice E. Graves, Sr. and Amelia Rucker Gregory Graves; the widowed daughter of American Revolutionary War Patriot CPT Jesse Richeson – (a wealthy and influential citizen of Amherst County, Virginia), had booked passage on the riverboat "Star of the West" and with their young family and all their worldly possessions on board, they began the journey down the Ohio River to Missouri and a new life. Just below Breckinridge County, KY. their boat collided with another vessel named the "Hark-Away" and was sunk. It was all the frantic parents could do to save themselves and their eight children one of whom was a baby. All of their household goods sank into the Ohio River as the parents guided their family to shore in their night clothes. Missouri was forgotten. With a large family and no property, they decided to remain in Cloverport, where Graves Sr. rented a farm on which to raise his children. His example of hard work, honesty and devotion to duty over the next three years must have had a tremendous impact on his sons. Ambition, perseverance, and purity of character was passed to all of them, especially Rice Evan Graves, Jr.
When they felt themselves beginning to regain their financial standing, the Graves family moved to Daviess County where eventually they were able to purchase land of their own and gradually improved it until it became one of the finest estates in the area. (today the family grave yard remains on the property located on Graves Lane off KY 144 in eastern Daviess County). By that time, the number of children in the household had increased to eleven and with so large a family, education opportunities were limited. All of the children were expected to help out with the farm work, so their schooling was done locally. Rice E. Graves, Jr.,spent three semesters at the Owensboro(KY) Academy.
West Point Cadet
Rice E. Graves was a cadet at the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York through a scholarship presented by Congressman Samuel O. Peyton representing the second Congressional district of Kentucky. Graves was in the fifth class at West Point, with 48 members in the class. The two years he spent in West Point set the standard for his later military career. He resigned his Presidential appointment after two years at the distinquished military academy to join the Confederate States of America Army at Camp Boone, Tennessee. Graves was appointed with the rank of captain upon enlistment at Camp Boone, (Saint Bethlehem, Tennessee) Clarksville, Tennessee.
Confederate States of America Army Officer
Graves was known for his excellent skills as an artillery leader and commanded an artillery battery known as "Graves' Battery" He was promoted to the rank of Major under the command of General John C. Breckinridge and served as Breckinridge's Chief of Artillery.
Military Campaigns and Battles
Graves served in many civil war battles and campaigns to include the battle at Fort Donelson, TN, Battle of Shiloh; Siege of Vicksburg; Battle of Stones River at Murfreesboro, TN where he was twice wounded in battle; Atlanta Campaign; Battle of Jackson, MS; and was killed in action at the Battle of Chickamauga in Georgia.
General John C. Breckinridge wrote of Major Graves in his official report of the Battle of Chickamauga: "One member of my staff I cannot thank; Major Rice Graves received a mortal wound on the (Sunday morning)(September) 20th (1863). Although a very young man he gave promise of the highest distinction. A truer friend, a purer patriot, a better soldier, never lived".
On September 21, 1900, the Breckinridge Chapter of the Owensboro, KY UDC unveiled the first Confederate monument by the organization in Kentucky. The dedication date chosen was in honor of Daviess County, Kentucky hero Maj. Rice E. Graves, whose memory highlighted the ceremonies. C.H. Todd, Commander of the Rice E. Graves United Confederate Veterans Camp #1121 said that he "could recall no other soldier that he met during the war who so impressed him and so rapidly won his confidence and friendship."
A military grave marker for Major Rice E. Graves, Jr., was erected on the anniversary of his death in 1996 by members of the General Ben Hardin Helm Sons of Confederate Veterans Camp in the center of the Ringgold cemetery. Little was recorded of Maj. Graves after the first night at the field hospital, but it is thought that he lived longer than hours after his wounding. Apparently he was still alive when Breckinridge's troops left the area or else his body would have been transported along with Gen. Helm to Atlanta for burial. There were several hospitals set up in the nearby town, Ringgold, and he most likely perished in one of them a day or two later. He was buried in the Citizen's Cemetery in Ringgold. Sadly, the exact burial location of Maj. Graves was lost through the years.