Major General Isaac Ridgeway Trimble, 1802-1888, was born in Culpeper County Virginia, and grew up in Ohio and Kentucky. He entered West Point in 1818, and graduated 17th of 42 Cadets in his class in 1822. Trimble was commissioned a second lieutenant, and spent the next ten years primarily working on surveys for some of the early railroads and roads in the American interior.
Trimble resigned his commission to take employment in the railroad industry. Engineering innovations developed as a result of Trimble's travels to Europe resulted in railroads scaling the Blue Ridge and the Appalachians. Trimble spent 1857-59 building a railroad from Havana to Santiago, Cuba.
Upon his return to America in 1860, Trimble was retained by the Mayor of Baltimore to help "defend" the city after riots had occurred with federal troops marching through. This commission ended with Trimble being accused of involvement with burning railroad bridges, and the subject of Federal arrest warrants for treason. He went south to offer his services to the Confederacy.
Trimble's earliest service to the South was as an engineer building fortifications in Norfolk and on the James River. He finally attained an infantry command as a brigade commander in Ewell's division. Trimble saw his greatest successes serving with Ewell under the command of Gen. Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson in the Valley Campaign, during the Seven Days' Battles, and in the Second Manassas campaign. Trimble's capture of Pope's storehouses at Manassas Junction was later praised by Gen. Jackson as the "most brilliant" leadership he had seen in the War, and resulted in his eventual promotion to Major General.
Trimble was severely wounded during the fighting at Second Manassas, and did not rejoin the Army of Northern Virginia until it was on the road to Gettysburg in June 1863. Serving as a staff officer for Gen. Ewell, Trimble got into a heated dispute with his commander on July 1, 1863, when he urged Ewell to take Culp's Hill, which advice Ewell refused. Trimble then was assigned to command the wounded Dorsey Pender's division in Pickett's Charge on July 3, and was again himself wounded, this time suffering amputation of his left leg, and being left for capture by the Federals.
The old arrest warrants consigned Trimble to federal prisons for the duration of the War, at Johnson's Island and Ft. Warren. Afterwards, he eventually returned to Baltimore, resumed his work as an engineer, and lived there until his death in 1888.
Major General Trimble is portrayed by his collateral ancestor, David C. Trimble. David is an attorney practicing in Lexington, Kentucky. David has written a biography of Gen. Trimble, entitled Furious, Insatiable Fighter: A Biography of Isaac Ridgeway Trimble. The book has been published and released in November 2005 by the University Press of America, and is available from the publisher, as well as on Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.com.