Ransom B. Howell was born September 27, 1834, in New York, the son of Joseph.
Ransom was probably living and working in Grand Rapids, Kent County sometime before the war broke out.
Ransom stood 5’10’ with blue eyes, dark hair and a light complexion and was 28 years old and probably living in Grand Rapids when he enlisted in Company A, on June 10, 1861. (Company A was made up largely of men from Grand Rapids, and many of whom had served in various local militia units before the war, specifically the Valley City Guards, or VCG, under the command of Captain Samuel Judd, who would also command Company A.)
He was reported absent sick in July of 1862, and listed as missing in action on August 29, 1862, at Second Bull Run. In fact, Ransom had been wounded and taken prisoner at Second Bull Run, paroled at Centerville, Virginia, on September 6, reported to Camp Parole, near Annapolis, Maryland, on October 23 and sent back to the Army of the Potomac on December 14 where he was present for duty on or about December 20, 1862, and subsequently admitted to Mt. Pleasant hospital in Washington, DC.
Ransom eventually returned to the Regiment on December 20, 1862 at Camp Pitcher, Virginia, and was a recipient of the Kearny Cross for his participation in the battle of Chancellorsville, Virginia, on May 3, 1863. According to Ransom, while elements of the Third Michigan were in support of a battery at Chancellorsville, he had been deafened in his left ear by an exploding caisson, which apparently injured the eardrum. Another member of his company William Jubb confirmed this. When the caisson exploded he saw Ransom “stagger. I heard him cry out and grasp his head with his hands. I went to him and found that he was terribly jarred and though nothing had struck him he was in great distress from the shock.”
By mid-July Ransom was apparently taken sick with chronic diarrhea, and in August of 1863 was absent sick in the hospital since July 15, probably with chronic diarrhea. He was reportedly suffering from chronic diarrhea in December of 1863 and was subsequently treated first in the regimental hospital and then in Mt. Pleasant hospital in Washington, DC.
Ransom was on furlough from the hospital when he married Ohio native Margaret Jane “Maggie” Alexander (b. 1835), on January 4, 1864, at Steubenville, Jefferson County, Ohio, and they had at least five children: Ransom Wilber (b. 1870), Henry Orvis (b. 1873), Margaret “Maggie” Alma (b. 1877), Avis F. (b. 1882) and Ami (b. 1885).
Ransom returned to Virginia and was sick in Camp Convalescent near Alexandria, Virginia, when, on January 25, 1864, his wife, who was living at their home in Salineville, Ohio, wrote to President Lincoln asking his assistance in getting a discharge for her husband.
Will you pardon a stranger [she wrote] for intruding upon your time for a moment, and give attention to her prayers. I have a husband in the Third Regiment Michigan Infantry. He has been out since early in June 1861 and has participated in the following battles: to wit First Bull Run, the siege of Yorktown, Williamsburg, Fair Oaks, Seven days before Richmond, Second Bull Run, Chancellorsville, and Gettysburg. Soon after the last battle he was taken sick and has been in the hospital and convalescent camp since the 30th of July. His disease, chronic diarrhea. My prayer is that for the sake of an aged mother and a wife dependent on his labor for support that you will grant him his discharge; that if possible by returning to his native climate he may regain his health. He is now in the Convalescent Camp near Alexandria, Virginia. He is a member of company A 3rd Regt. Mich. My husband was awarded a [Kearny] Cross of Honor by General Birney after the battle of Chancellorsville.”
On February 18, her request was denied. She was informed “that upon investigation, it is ascertained that your husband is not a proper subject for discharge, and that he will soon be returned to duty with his Regiment.
In fact, Ransom remained hospitalized and was transferred on February 18, 1864, as a Corporal to Company H, Twenty-fourth Regiment, Veterans’ Reserve Corps, and was at Camp Distribution in Virginia and present for duty on April 30. He remained at Camp distribution until he was mustered out on June 9, 1864.
After the war Ransom returned to Ohio where he lived the rest of his life.
In 1870 Ransom was working as a miner and living with “Maggie” in Washington, Columbiana County, Ohio. By 1876 he was living in Salineville, Columbiana County, Ohio. By 1880 he was working as an “agent” and living with his wife and children in Washington, Columbiana County, Ohio. He also worked as a coal miner at one time. He was still living in Salineville, Ohio, in 1889, in 1900 when he testified in the pension application of William Jubb (although the census of 1900 lists him in Washington) and he and Maggie were living in Salineville in 1910.
He was a member of the 3rd Michigan Infantry Association, and in 1876 he applied for and received a pension (no. 343472), drawing $30 per month by 1913.
Ransom died of paralysis on April 18, 1913, probably at home in Salineville and was buried in Woodland cemetery, Salineville, Ohio.
In May of 1912 his widow Maggie was residing in Ohio when she applied for and received a pension (no. 761379). Margaret was still living in Salineville in 1920; also living with her were her two sons and two daughters.