A Civil War Biography

James Wolfe Ripley

Ripley was born 10 December 1794 in Windham County, Connecticut. He entered West Point in May 1813 and received his commission 12th in the class of 1814 the following June. The class was rushed through in order to serve in the War of 1812. Ripley was assigned to the artillery.

After the war he fought Creek and Seminole Indians under Andrew Jackson, served at numerous garrisons, and did surveying work in Florida. In 1832 Ripley was transferred to the newly independent Ordnance Department and assigned as a captain to garrison duty in Charleston, South Carolina. He was assigned command of the Springfield Armory in Massachusetts in 1841 and remained in command there until 1854 except during his service in the war with Mexico.

Shortly after the Civil War broke out Ripley, by then a lieutenant colonel of ordnance, returned from a foreign inspection trip. He was promoted to colonel and named chief of ordnance on 23 April 1861 replacing the 70 year old Henry K. Craig. Ripley was brevetted brigadier general in the regular army on 2 July 1861 then promoted to that rank on 3 August 1861. Although his tenure as Chief of Ordnance is often noted for many accomplishments including restoring administrative order to the Ordnance Department that had become disorganized and mired in red tape; protecting the government from purchasing impractical inventions; increasing the output of the US armories; and standardizing weapons and ammunition, Ripley is most noted for his resistance to change.

After repeated clashes with Abraham Lincoln and Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton regarding Ripley's opposition to innovation he was replaced on 15 September 1863 by Colonel George D. Ramsay who would have his own problems with Stanton. Ripley was appointed Inspector of Armaments of Forts on the New England Coast. He retained that position until the end of the war. Following the war he remained in the army and was named inspector of government armaments. He died 15 March 1870 in Hartford, Connecticut. Ripley was the uncle of Confederate Brigadier General Roswell Sabine Ripley.

Return to Biography Index



  home · Today's News · Civil War Trivia · Civil War Cookbook · Discussion Board · links · Advertising · Biographies
Civil War Interactive
11378 Purdy Rd.
Huntingdon, TN 38344

CWi is pleased to be hosted by Data 1 Systems