1st Division – Israel B. Richardson

Israel B. Richardson

Israel B. Richardson Quotes

Last Updated January 18, 2010

With quotations by Richardson first followed by others in alphabetical order of the person making the quote

“Load at will, and be careful none of you get the ball down first”

Richardson, Israel B.

Mason, Jack C.  Until Antietam The Life and Letters of Major General Israel B. Richardson, U.S. Army. Carbondale IL:  Southern Illinois Press, 2009 pg 78

Tell General McClellan I have been doing a Colonel’s work all day, and I’m now too badly hurt to do a General’s

Richardson, Israel B.

Richardson to a regimental surgeon after he is wounded

Mason, Jack C.  Until Antietam The Life and Letters of Major General Israel B. Richardson, U.S. Army. Carbondale IL:  Southern Illinois Press, 2009 pg 189

“About this time, Colonel Thomas A. Davies came up with his brigade, and inquired the date of my commission as colonel, and told me his, and found that he ranked me by eleven days.  He took command of the two brigades.”

Richardson, Israel B.

Richardson reporting on the battle of Bull Run

Mason, Jack C.  Until Antietam The Life and Letters of Major General Israel B. Richardson, U.S. Army. Carbondale IL:  Southern Illinois Press, 2009 pg 97

“Don’t you think it would be just as well, and perhaps a little better, to let the boys have their coffee before we start?”

Richardson, Israel B.

Richardson to Cpt Janvrin Graves, Cdr of Co E, 5th NH during period of rapid movement preceding Maryland Campaign

Mason, Jack C.  Until Antietam The Life and Letters of Major General Israel B. Richardson, U.S. Army. Carbondale IL:  Southern Illinois Press, 2009 pg 171

“Fifth New Hampshire, remember your granite hills; you will stand firm like your own stone walls.”

Richardson, Israel B.

May 31, 1862

Battle of Seven Pines

Mason, Jack C.  Until Antietam The Life and Letters of Major General Israel B. Richardson, U.S. Army. Carbondale IL:  Southern Illinois Press, 2009 pg 141

“God damn the field officers.”

Richardson, Israel B.

Sep 17 1862

Richardson, upon learning that Caldwell was behind a haystack, explodes in wrath.  During attack against the Sunken Road

Mason, Jack C.  Until Antietam The Life and Letters of Major General Israel B. Richardson, U.S. Army. Carbondale IL:  Southern Illinois Press, 2009 pg 183

“I did not expect anything higher in the regiment than the majority.  I think it is all that I am capable of.  I do not think I am fit to command a regiment of men, and would rather decline the colonelcy.”

Richardson, Israel B.

Richardson expressing doubts about his ability to command a regiment.

Mason, Jack C.  Until Antietam The Life and Letters of Major General Israel B. Richardson, U.S. Army. Carbondale IL:  Southern Illinois Press, 2009 pg 79

“If I was going to take Hell, I should want the 5th New Hampshire for skirmishers.”

Richardson, Israel B.

Sep 15, 1862

Mason, Jack C.  Until Antietam The Life and Letters of Major General Israel B. Richardson, U.S. Army. Carbondale IL:  Southern Illinois Press, 2009 pg 173

“Men, follow me and where I will not go, I will not ask you to go.”

Richardson, Israel B.

Sep 17, 1862

Richardson’s parting words to the Irish Brigade as they launch their attack into the Sunken Road

Mason, Jack C.  Until Antietam The Life and Letters of Major General Israel B. Richardson, U.S. Army. Carbondale IL:  Southern Illinois Press, 2009 pg 178

“my man, that’s played out; we did not come here to salute, we came to fight.”

Richardson, Israel B.

June 13 1862

Cyrus Forwood of the 2d Delaware reported this incident regarding Genl. Richardson

Mason, Jack C.  Until Antietam The Life and Letters of Major General Israel B. Richardson, U.S. Army. Carbondale IL:  Southern Illinois Press, 2009 pg 148

“Nothing could have suited me better; for I always had a greater taste for the active duties of the field than for the monotonous, and sedentary life in a garrison.”

Richardson, Israel B.

IBR describing his offensive campaigns against the Seminoles in Florida 1841

Mason, Jack C.  Until Antietam The Life and Letters of Major General Israel B. Richardson, U.S. Army. Carbondale IL:  Southern Illinois Press, 2009 pg 10

“so much as to Brigadier Generals of the modern appointments; who were good country lawyers at home, but make indifferent warriors in the field.”

Richardson, Israel B.

Richardson on volunteer brigadier generals

Mason, Jack C.  Until Antietam The Life and Letters of Major General Israel B. Richardson, U.S. Army. Carbondale IL:  Southern Illinois Press, 2009 pg 95

“Sometimes they call me General Richardson, and at other times they call me ‘Greasy Dick.'”

Richardson, Israel B.

Richardson to several of his men.

Mason, Jack C.  Until Antietam The Life and Letters of Major General Israel B. Richardson, U.S. Army. Carbondale IL:  Southern Illinois Press, 2009 pg 130

“Tell General McClellan I have been in the front rank doing the duty of a Colonel.  I have done a hard day’s work and have worked all day.  I am wounded and he must detail someone to take my command.”

Richardson, Israel B.

Sep 17, 1862

Richardson upon his wounding gives these instructions to an orderly

Mason, Jack C.  Until Antietam The Life and Letters of Major General Israel B. Richardson, U.S. Army. Carbondale IL:  Southern Illinois Press, 2009 pg 189

“You can march ahead if you want to, but my men came here prepared to take care of themselves.  Now, let them attack us and we will show them what a ball and three buckshot will do!”

Richardson, Israel B.

June 9 1861

Richardson to the Baltimore Chief of Police as his regiment approaches enroute to Washington

Mason, Jack C.  Until Antietam The Life and Letters of Major General Israel B. Richardson, U.S. Army. Carbondale IL:  Southern Illinois Press, 2009 pg 82

“There is no use punishing soldiers lightly.  If so, they only laugh at it afterwards.  As for lying…..they will lie as far as a dog can trot….”

Richardson, Israel B.

Dec 4 1841

Newly commissioned 2LT Richardson describing his company’s discipline problems in Florida and his soldiers ability to stretch the truth.

Mason, Jack C.  Until Antietam The Life and Letters of Major General Israel B. Richardson, U.S. Army. Carbondale IL:  Southern Illinois Press, 2009 pg12

“Watching nearby, Colonel Richardson rode up to the battery, and as he was engaged in giving orders, a solid shot came whizzing by in such close proximity to his head that he was stunned for [a] moment.  After a brief instant, he turned his head and shrugged his shoulders, a peculiarity of his, and in his usual nasal twang said, “Rather close quarters,” and rode away apparently as unconcerned as if it was a hummingbird which crossed his path.”

A 2nd Michigan soldier

Soldier witnessing Richardson at the battle of first Manassas

Mason, Jack C.  Until Antietam The Life and Letters of Major General Israel B. Richardson, U.S. Army. Carbondale IL:  Southern Illinois Press, 2009 pg 90

“Our brigade commander was Gen. I.B. Richardson, or ‘Old Dick’ as we used to call him.  We remember him as a man who understood volunteers and appreciated the difference between them and Regulars.  His slouchy appearance was anything but military; but he would stay in a fight as long as anyone, and looked after the comfort of his men with a fatherly solicitude.”

a private in one of the Michigan regiments

A private in one of the Michigan regiments

Mason, Jack C.  Until Antietam The Life and Letters of Major General Israel B. Richardson, U.S. Army. Carbondale IL:  Southern Illinois Press, 2009 pg 123

“‘Old Dick’ Richardson was our brigade commander.  I remember him as a man who understood volunteers and appreciated the difference between them and regulars.  He generally went around camp wearing an old straw hat and citizens coat, his slouchy appearance anything but military, but he would stay in a fight as long as anyone, and looked after the comfort of his men with a fatherly solicitude.”

An old veteran of the 2nd MI

A memory of an old veteran of the 2nd Michigan

Mason, Jack C.  Until Antietam The Life and Letters of Major General Israel B. Richardson, U.S. Army. Carbondale IL:  Southern Illinois Press, 2009 pg 80

“The Colonel is both celebrated and bullet proof, that is what my men believe.”

Brethschneider, Robert

July 26 1861

Cpt Robert Brethschneider of the 2nd Michigan about Richardson after Bull Run in a letter to his wife

Mason, Jack C.  Until Antietam The Life and Letters of Major General Israel B. Richardson, U.S. Army. Carbondale IL:  Southern Illinois Press, 2009 pg 104

“Richardson leading, swinging his hat and shouting, and without slackening pace, dashed through his ranks, passing the line by simply pushing its way through, Meagher’s men quickly conforming to the movement.”

Carmen, Ezra

Carmen describing the passage of Caldwell’s brigade with Irish Brigade

Mason, Jack C.  Until Antietam The Life and Letters of Major General Israel B. Richardson, U.S. Army. Carbondale IL:  Southern Illinois Press, 2009 pg 181

“We are proud of him as one of the best fighting generals of the army.”

Chandler, Zachariah

July 29 1862

Senator Chandler of Michigan in a letter to Secy of War Stanton

Mason, Jack C.  Until Antietam The Life and Letters of Major General Israel B. Richardson, U.S. Army. Carbondale IL:  Southern Illinois Press, 2009 pg 168

“General Richardson, affectionately known as ‘Fighting Dick’ while directing a battery on the hill near us, was struck with a piece of shell and mortally wounded.  He was a good tactician, was prompt and brave, and well deserved the sobriquet of ‘Old War Horse,’ given to him by his men.  It was with a feeling of a personal loss that we parted with General Richardson.  He was not a fuss and feather soldier.  He usually wore a soft hat and fatigue dress, and looked oftenest like a uniformed farmer.  But a study of his features revealed intelligence, determination, and a quiet force of character and fatherliness that made his men believe he was one of them. There has always been a halo around his head since Antietam, for the double reason that he, a general, was killed in battle at our side, and also that he was the first general officer thus lost to us.”

Cole, Jacob H.

A soldier in Richardson’s third brigade

Mason, Jack C.  Until Antietam The Life and Letters of Major General Israel B. Richardson, U.S. Army. Carbondale IL:  Southern Illinois Press, 2009 pg 190

“You know, ‘Old Richardson’, as we called him, styled us the ‘Fire Proofs’ and the boys have earned the title.”

Cross, Edward

Col Cross recalling Richardson after his death

Mason, Jack C.  Until Antietam The Life and Letters of Major General Israel B. Richardson, U.S. Army. Carbondale IL:  Southern Illinois Press, 2009 pg 200

We all claim that ‘Fighting Dick’ is the plainest general in the army, and one of the best.  He never cared much about his dress which consisted of a jacket, an old straw hat, and trousers, in the side pockets of which his hands are general thrust.  This was his every-day attire, without any insignia of rank about him; but, with all these rough outlines, we all know he has a head and a heart.  Everyone loved the good-natured and plain old ‘Fighting Dick'”

Crotty, Daniel. G.

Color Sergeant D.G. Crotty of the 3rd Michigan

Mason, Jack C.  Until Antietam The Life and Letters of Major General Israel B. Richardson, U.S. Army. Carbondale IL:  Southern Illinois Press, 2009 pg 121

“Richardson is a dark, slim man, with stooping shoulders, and a pronounced nasal voice.  He looks like a farmer more than a soldier, and is utterly devoid of style; but has good common sense, a rare commodity apparently, and is very popular with his command.  He is a West Pointer, notwithstanding his lack of style, and served in the old regular army.  He made me think he smelt something disagreeable all the time, by the way he moved the muscles of his face.  He is a typical Yankee.”

Favill, Josiah

May 26 1862

Favill records his first impressions of Richardson

Mason, Jack C.  Until Antietam The Life and Letters of Major General Israel B. Richardson, U.S. Army. Carbondale IL:  Southern Illinois Press, 2009 pg 137

“Gen. Richardson is a fine portly looking man, and a good soldier; plain, unassuming and always at his post when duty calls.  The day we arrived, he reviewed us.  He looked more like a teamster than a general.  His pants were torn down the leg as if old Rough and Ready was reproduced in his person.”

Forwood, Cyrus H.

June 13 1862

Cyrus Forwood of the 2d Delaware

Mason, Jack C.  Until Antietam The Life and Letters of Major General Israel B. Richardson, U.S. Army. Carbondale IL:  Southern Illinois Press, 2009 pg 148

“By this time the men had become somewhat familiar with General I.B. Richardson, our division commander.  He was a large, heavy, powerful man, a West Pointer, and commanded, I think, the 2d Michigan at Bull Run.  He put on no military style; generally he was clothed in a privates blouse which if I remember correctly, did not have on shoulder straps.  He speech, when not aroused, was slow and drawling; he did not care for salutes and the men began to regard him as one of them; he had their confidence and affection, and they willingly followed him.”

Fuller, Charles A.

May 1862

a soldier in Howard brigade

Mason, Jack C.  Until Antietam The Life and Letters of Major General Israel B. Richardson, U.S. Army. Carbondale IL:  Southern Illinois Press, 2009 pg 136

“Anything like a speech making is a terror to him.  He has never been known to talk for more than two minutes consecutively since he joined the regiment.  He likes to do things without ceremony.”

Haydon, Charles B.

Dec 1861

Haydon on the time Richardson is presented a sword by his regiment

Mason, Jack C.  Until Antietam The Life and Letters of Major General Israel B. Richardson, U.S. Army. Carbondale IL:  Southern Illinois Press, 2009 pg 120

“If General Richardson could only ride on horseback decently he would be one of the finest looking soldiers I ever saw…the General goes jolting along like some clumsy old farmer.”

Haydon, Charles B.

Haydon describing Richardson’s riding capability

Mason, Jack C.  Until Antietam The Life and Letters of Major General Israel B. Richardson, U.S. Army. Carbondale IL:  Southern Illinois Press, 2009 pg 121

“McClellan is taking a personal view of every regiment in the army.  I have confidence in him and all of our men think Richardson is almost a God.”

Haydon, Charles B.

Haydon describing the men’s feelings about Richardson after First Manassas

Mason, Jack C.  Until Antietam The Life and Letters of Major General Israel B. Richardson, U.S. Army. Carbondale IL:  Southern Illinois Press, 2009 pg 112

“The effect of the colonel’s wedding is excellent, Colonel Richardson was never so pleasant before as at drill yesterday.  He said no less than three times that we did well-a thing he has never done before…”

Haydon, Charles B.

a member of the 2d Michigan on effect of Richardson’s marriage

Mason, Jack C.  Until Antietam The Life and Letters of Major General Israel B. Richardson, U.S. Army. Carbondale IL:  Southern Illinois Press, 2009 pg 81

“the General swore worse than a corporal”

Haydon, Charles B.

Aug 28 1861

Haydon reports on a small unit engagement near Bailey’s Crossroads

Mason, Jack C.  Until Antietam The Life and Letters of Major General Israel B. Richardson, U.S. Army. Carbondale IL:  Southern Illinois Press, 2009 pg 115

“When they saw Richardson tramping up and down the field on foot, his great iron sword sheath hung at his side with chains rattling like a log chain on a pole bridge, giving orders loud enough to be heard a mile, reprimanding the officers in a manner that fairly raised them off their feet, and keeping them on the jump by the hour, they thought the devil had surely come.”

Haydon, Charles B.

June 19 1861

Haydon describing Richardson’s drilling of the 3rd Michigan, sister rgt to 2nd Regt

Mason, Jack C.  Until Antietam The Life and Letters of Major General Israel B. Richardson, U.S. Army. Carbondale IL:  Southern Illinois Press, 2009 pg 83

“Old Dick Richardson led us in, not merely to fill up a gap, but to make gaps.”

Helmbold, William H.

CPT Helmbold of Co D 2nd Del describes Richardson’s commitment of his rgt to stop a Confederate counterattack

Mason, Jack C.  Until Antietam The Life and Letters of Major General Israel B. Richardson, U.S. Army. Carbondale IL:  Southern Illinois Press, 2009 pg 185

“Here our division commander, General Richardson, joined his division.  He was a large fleshy man, generally careless in his attire and toilet; an officer who knew him said:’He is inclined to lie abed in the morning.’  I soon learned to prize him for his pluck and energy that came out in battle and on an active campaign.  In the fight he was a capital leader, very cool and self possessed.”

Howard, Oliver O.

Howard, one of Richardson’s brigade commanders sizing him up.

Mason, Jack C.  Until Antietam The Life and Letters of Major General Israel B. Richardson, U.S. Army. Carbondale IL:  Southern Illinois Press, 2009 pg 132

“I shall never cease to admire that magnificent fighting general who advanced with his front line, with his sword bare and ready to use, and his swarthy face, burning eye, and square jaw.”

Livermore, Thomas I.

Livermore of the 5th NH describing Richardson at Antietam

Mason, Jack C.  Until Antietam The Life and Letters of Major General Israel B. Richardson, U.S. Army. Carbondale IL:  Southern Illinois Press, 2009 pg 217

“This sending forward of infantry to cope with artillery and infantry, repeated within three days, seemed to inspire General Richardson with indignation, for the gallant man went forward with a horse battery (Graham’s) to a point within three hundred yards of the enemy’s artillery and a stone’s throw in front of us, and there, exposed to the concentrated fire of may guns of heavier caliber, he personally overlooked its gunners in a desperate attempt to silence the enemy’s batteries, and there he received his mortal wound in the side from a piece of shell; and no one but a soldier can understand our sorrow at seeing him carried off the field.”

Livermore, Thomas I.

Sep 17 1862

Livermore of the 5th NH describing the wounding of Richardson at Antietam

Mason, Jack C.  Until Antietam The Life and Letters of Major General Israel B. Richardson, U.S. Army. Carbondale IL:  Southern Illinois Press, 2009 pg 190

“He was my singularly devoted friend and admirer before the war and had not ceased to be conscious of old-time ties

Longstreet, James

Mason, Jack C.  Until Antietam The Life and Letters of Major General Israel B. Richardson, U.S. Army. Carbondale IL:  Southern Illinois Press, 2009 pg 113

“his countenance is stern, and when he gives an order, he means it; but, he is a man, every inch of him.  He never puts on any extra airs or style but delights to be around his men citizen’s dress.”

Mayo, Peter

Pvt Mayo, a soldier in the 2nd Regiment

Mason, Jack C.  Until Antietam The Life and Letters of Major General Israel B. Richardson, U.S. Army. Carbondale IL:  Southern Illinois Press, 2009 pg 121

“an officer of the old army; bull headed, brave and a good disciplinarian”

McClellan, George

McClellan describing Richardson

Mason, Jack C.  Until Antietam The Life and Letters of Major General Israel B. Richardson, U.S. Army. Carbondale IL:  Southern Illinois Press, 2009 pg 110

“I am glad to have my ‘Fighting Dick’ with me again, and have plenty of work for him to do!”

Scott, Winfield

Jun 1861

When Scott is reintroduced to Winfield Scott

Mason, Jack C.  Until Antietam The Life and Letters of Major General Israel B. Richardson, U.S. Army. Carbondale IL:  Southern Illinois Press, 2009 pg 83

“Richardson never appeared well out of battle, but that in one he was magnificent.”

Sumner, Edwin V.

Sumner stated in the New York Times article that announced the death of Richardson.

Mason, Jack C.  Until Antietam The Life and Letters of Major General Israel B. Richardson, U.S. Army. Carbondale IL:  Southern Illinois Press, 2009 pg 198

“Yes that is General Richardson; you will know more of him and will learn to like him the more you see him.”

Sumner, Edwin V.

Sumner to several of Richardson’s men after he took over Sumner’s Division

Mason, Jack C.  Until Antietam The Life and Letters of Major General Israel B. Richardson, U.S. Army. Carbondale IL:  Southern Illinois Press, 2009 pg 130

“unselfish and humble, a man who despised pretentiousness.”

Taylor, J.H. Dr

Nov 4 1862

Eulogy of Richardson

Mason, Jack C.  Until Antietam The Life and Letters of Major General Israel B. Richardson, U.S. Army. Carbondale IL:  Southern Illinois Press, 2009 pg 38

“I soon found that Richardson was so far from being insane that he was as sound as a nut, but he was slouchy and slovenly, something of the cadet that Stonewall Jackson was, and also quite absentminded.  He went about Pontiac looking queer perhaps and certainly unsociable.  But in talking over old days, the Mexican war and the coming strife, I found him clear and alert and up to the occasion.  It did not take me fifteen minutes to ‘size him up’, and returning to the governor, I reported most emphatically:  ‘That is your man, not for major, but for colonel, the man to drill your Second regiment.”

Willcox, Orlando

May 1861

Orlando Willcox reporting to Michigan Gov Austin Blair, state governor of Michigan, on the fitness of Richardson

Mason, Jack C.  Until Antietam The Life and Letters of Major General Israel B. Richardson, U.S. Army. Carbondale IL:  Southern Illinois Press, 2009 pg 79

11 Responses

  1. Jim,
    I commend you for this hobby of yours. It must be very time consuming, but worth it to your viewers. I may be a little biased here, but after reading these quotes of IBR (which took many years of digging – which was my hobby….) you come away with a clear vision of who this guy really was; and what a shame it was that he was lost to an army so much in need of his talents so early. What a great “what if?” story for a movie.

    Keep up the good work!
    Jack

    • Jack, I have a one day program where I take Federal Government managers in my agency to Antietam. As part of the trip, I have a workshop where I look at the principal commanders on each side (right now McClellan, Hooker, Sumner, Burnside, Lee, Longstreet, Jackson, and AP Hill) and using thier own words and those of contemporaries, build that mental image and then discuss with the groups how they would succeed or fail as modern day senior leaders. My collecting of quotes go into this effort. At some point I will add IBR to my program. Thanks for adding your book to the universe of biographies on important Civil War figures at Antietam. I takeg great pains to credit the authors who like you do all the real research. Regards. Jim

  2. Jim,

    Here is one of my favorites:

    “As for lying…..they will lie as far as a dog can trot….”

    – Newly commissioned 2LT Richardson describing his company’s discipline problems in Florida and his soldiers ability to stretch the truth.

    – Jack

    • Jack, I would like to add that. It is great. Is that in the book?

      • Page 12

      • Thanks Jack.

      • I dont know how I missed that one. It is great. I included it.

      • Jim,

        Here is a quote from IBR, if you think it’s worthwhile…”Col. Miles, having at his defense forty witnesses, will try the old dodge, that of extreme debility and sickness, and of taking opium. With the mass of evidence that I have introduced, I entertain no fears respecting myself. I wish merely to prove my own report, and beyond that, have no wish to crowd Col. Miles.” – in a letter home to his family predicting the outcome of Col. Miles Board of Inquiry after Bull Run.

      • Jack,
        Thanks for that quote. Is it one in your book that I missed? Do you know the date of the letter?
        Regards
        Jim

  3. Jim,
    I see you have used 99 of my quotes. For an even one hundred, I would like to suggest one found in a letter from IBR to his family on 18 Aug 1861: “Col. Miles, having at his defense forty witnesses, will try the old dodge, that of extreme debility and sickness, and of taking opium. With the mass of evidence that I have introduced, I entertain no fears respecting myself. I wish merely to prove my own report, and beyond that, have no wish to crowd Col. Miles.”

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