SUBMITTED BY: Steve Bailey (edited and vetted by Cheri Todd Molter)
John R. Richardson was a native of Ansonville, North Carolina. On May 22, 1861, when he was eighteen years old, Richardson volunteered to fight, enlisting as an Anson Ellis Rifleman in Company A of the 23rd North Carolina Infantry, which was Capt. William F. Harlee’s Company. [According to his compiled military record, Capt. Harlee resigned on Dec. 13, 1861.] On May 10, 1862, Richardson was promoted to Sergeant. On Sept. 17, 1862, Sgt. Richardson was wounded at Sharpsburg, Maryland. He returned to serve a couple of months later, on Nov. 15th. At Gettysburg, on July 3, 1863, Sgt. Richardson was shot while lying down. The minié ball traveled down his back, lodging near his spinal column, just underneath the skin. Richardson never allowed that ball to be cut out, even after the war was over. However, he did rejoin his company the following November. On Sept. 19, 1864, Sgt. Richardson was captured at Winchester, Virginia. A few days later, he was confined at Point Lookout, Maryland, and remained there until he was exchanged on March 18, 1865. (North Carolina Troops 1861-65, A Roster)
Richardson’s obituary in Wadesboro’s Messenger and Intelligencer, published on Thursday, Dec. 20, 1906, states: “So well was he thought of as a soldier by his comrades in arms that the bronze figure of the Confederate private that surmounts the Confederate monument here was made in his likeness.” Sgt. Richardson was a “model soldier” who “never missed a roll call or shirked a duty” (Messenger and Intelligencer, Thursday, Dec. 20, 1906). Richardson traveled to Charlotte in 1904 to model for it, and the statue was erected in January of 1906 at the location of the old courthouse building, which was where the current gazebo is located. The current courthouse was built in 1912, and the statue was moved to that location in 1915.
Although alive when the statue was erected in front of the old courthouse, Richardson did not live to see the statue placed in its latter location. His obituary states: “Mr. John R. Richardson died about 9’oclock Sunday night [Dec. 16, 1906] at his home in Ansonville, aged about 62 years, of Bright’s disease [kidney disease]. Mr. Richardson’s health had been failing for some time, and last Thursday, he took to his bed from which time he gradually grew worse until the end.” After Richardson died, Mr. Amos Richardson of Mississippi, the brother of the deceased, requested that the minié ball be removed from his brother’s back: Dr. J. M. Dunlap performed that procedure. John R. Richardson was buried at Bethlehem Cemetery outside of Ansonville, off Highway 52 North.