Born in Pennsylvania on February 14, 1842, Ezra Ripple worked as a tavern owner and pharmacist before the war. He joined the 52nd Pennsylvania Infantry in April of 1864. Due to his poor eyesight he was normally assigned to orderly duties. Before the attack on Fort Johnson in Charleston Harbor, however, he was able to talk his way into fighting. The attack failed and Ripple was taken prisoner with around 140 other men.
Ripple was confined at Andersonville from July to October 1864. An accomplished violinist, Ripple was able to obtain a violin through trade with other prisoners. While at Andersonville he performed small concerts for the prisoners. He was later transferred to Florence, South Carolina where he organized a small orchestra of fellow prisoners. They were allowed to play outside the prison at local events. Ripple returned to Scranton, Pennsylvania after the war where he was elected mayor of the city. He died on November 19, 1909.
Image credit: NPS/ANDE
Alt text: Black and white photo of man in period clothing.