Capt. Adam Kramer and his battalion of cavalrymen mounted up and raced through the North Carolina countryside on the evening of April 10, 1865. Their mission: cut off the retreat of Confederate soldiers from Richmond.
The troopers, 86 sabers strong, “took one of those all-night-rides with which we had by that time become very familiar, but which we never learned to love,” one of Kramer’s fellow officers admitted.
Kramer commanded the men with the confidence of a seasoned veteran. German by birth and Pennsylvanian by choice, he started his military service in 1857 as a private in the 2nd U.S. Dragoons. Kramer mastered the art of soldiering on the Great Plains at Forts Bridger and Laramie, and headed back East after the Civil War began. In the summer of 1862, he enlisted in the 15th Pennsylvania Cavalry. Over the next two-plus years, Kramer advanced through the ranks, from sergeant to captain and, finally, commander of Company M. He led his men in various operations throughout the South
The nighttime ride in North Carolina is indicative of Kramer’s leadership. As he and his battalion approached Jamestown, a community near Greensboro, Kramer detached part of his force to a railroad depot. The troopers drove off the Confederate guards and captured cars and supplies, which they set afire. Meanwhile, Kramer and the larger part of his force rode through the morning fog and captured the railroad bridge over Deep River, and likewise set it ablaze.
Kramer’s crew continued the destructive raid, lighting up a gun factory in Florence and burning more supplies. The battalion was proud of its success. “I think our men cannot be indicted of egotism in regarding this as a very creditable affair.”
Kramer continued on in the regular army after the war. He retired as major of the 6th U.S. Cavalry in 1897, and died four years later.
This portrait is part of the Arlington National Cemetery (ANC) Book Project. Established by Jim Quinlan, owner of The Excelsior Brigade, its mission is to identify approximately 15,000 Civil War veterans interred on the hallowed grounds of the cemetery, and to provide a biographical sketch and photograph of each individual. If you have an image to share, or would like more information about the ANC project, please contact Jim at 703-307-0344.