Americus Vespucius Rice was born on November 18, 1835, in Perrysville, Ohio. He was the son of Clark Hammond Rice and Catherine Mowers Rice. Little is known of his early childhood, until he left Perrysville to study the classics at Antioch and then law at Union College.
When the Civil War broke out, he was commissioned as a Captain in the 21st Ohio Volunteer Infantry on April 27, 1861. When his enlistment with the 21st expired he remustered as a Colonel in the 57th OVI. Rice had a distinguished record as an officer and was wounded six times, first at Shiloh, then Vicksburg and other engagements. At Shiloh, Rice led his illness depleted troops to the defense of the Little Meetinghouse, sustaining 187 casualties. He was commended for gallantry at Arkansas Post, and lost his leg as a result of wounds sustained at the battle of Kennesaw Mountain, June 27, 1864. As soon as he was able to be on crutches, he returned to the field, serving as commander of the 3rd Brigade, 2nd Division of the XV Corps. By the end of the war he had attained the rank of Brigadier General.
Following the war he went into banking, before being elected to to the United States House of Representatives in 1874 and serving until 1897. Following his stint as a politician he returned to banking, forming the A.V. Rice & Company banking enterprise in Ottawa, Ohio. Eventually he moved to Washington D.C. and became an agent with the United States Census Bureau until his death on April 4, 1904. His pallbearers included two Generals, a US Congressman, US Senator, two Colonels, and a Judge. He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.