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Union Gen. Thomas H. Ruger ALS Re: Reconstructing

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Union Gen. Thomas H. Ruger ALS Re: Reconstructing

Lot 0047 Details

Description
Civil War

Union General Thomas H. Ruger ALS Refarding Reconstructing Charlotte, NC in May 1865: "I have my hands full"


4pp ALS inscribed overall and 2x signed by Union Brigadier General Thomas H. Ruger (1833-1907), both as "Howard," once in the text and once in a postscript on the last page. Written in Charlotte, North Carolina on May 10, 1865. On bifold cream blue-lined paper, embossed "Congress" at upper left. Accompanied by a pre-stamped envelope addressed to "Mrs. Thos. H. Ruger / Care of H.R. Moore + Sons / Beloit / Wisconsin," letter-opened at left.  The letter shows expected paper folds and light overall toning, else near fine. 7.875" x 10".


In early May 1865, Brigadier General Ruger was stationed in Charlotte, North Carolina while attached to Major General William Tecumseh Sherman's Military Division of the Mississippi. Ruger described the socio-economic conditions of the former Confederate stronghold in this letter to wife Helen Lydia Moore Ruger (1837-1912). Unlike other areas of the South recently devastated by Sherman's scorched earth policy, Charlotte was doing quite well. The city had ample food and agricultural labor was in demand. Trade had sprung up between local townspeople and Union troops eager to consume fresh produce and dairy after months of bacon and hardtack.


Ruger noted optimistically that everyone seemed receptive to reconciliation. Ex-Confederates wanted to preserve their war records and trophies for posterity, but otherwise cooperate with their erstwhile enemies. The major difficulty Ruger foresaw during these first weeks of Reconstruction was race relations. Southern society had to be reorganized. Manumitted blacks needed to decide whether to do the same agricultural work they had done unpaid as slaves, or emigrate North. Ruger had already observed a tendency of Southerners to over-rely on federal aid; this refrain, highly critical of Reconstruction, would only become louder over the next decade.


In part, with unchanged spelling and punctuation. Paragraph breaks have been added for increased legibility.


"I am here in the rebel city of Charlotte in command of an indefinitely defined district. Corps Head Quarters are at Greensboro ninety miles north of here. The 2d Div of the Corps is at Salisbury about 40 miles from here. For the interim between a condition of war and the reestablishment of the civil authority all power will rest in the military authorities. I am sent down here to keep order +c. As you may suppose between my Division and the people in this section of the state I have my hands full.


The town is pleasant the most so of any I have seen in the state. There is more in the country also than in any other portion we have visited. The troops are enabled to buy such things as fruit poultry butter eggs +c. The strawberries are ripe and abundant also cherries.

 



My Head Quarters are at the old U.S. Mint. We found quite a large quantity of rebel stores mostly naval and medical here. Gen Johnston who is here gave information to my Provost Marshal who presented the Div. of the place of storage of the Archives of the rebel War Dept. which he was anxious should be preserved for history we were of course. Gen Schofield sent a staff officer to take charge of them. All the reports of battles were among them. Also all the flags they had captured from us at different times.


The people soldiers and all give up and seem desirous of conforming to the new condition of things as speedily as possible. The question of the negros seems to be the principal trouble. The policy of the government seems to be to encourage them to stay with their former masters and labor so long as they are kindly treated and paid fair wages. I think it will be as much as will be done if the present year will result in sufficient for the support of all without suffering. The soil and manner of tilling in this state could never have paid by slave labor. The increase of the slaves must have been the main profit. Most of the negros will remain quietly at home I think, but some have an idea that they can come to the military posts and be fed by the Government the rest of their lives.

 



The whites and blacks come from considerable distances to ask all sorts of questions. Some of the Planters find a very big elephant on their hands where they have a good many women and children and the able bodied have gone off and want to know if such cannot be made to support their families and whether those able to work who hire (?) to others will be allowed to keep their present cabins and live on their former masters land and so on…"


Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston (1807-1891) had relinquished his Army of the Tennessee, as well as Confederate forces in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida, just two weeks earlier, on April 26, 1865. This was the culmination of three days' negotiation with Sherman on April 17, 18, and 26, 1865 at Bennett Place, near Durham, North Carolina. Johnston's surrender of over 89,000 soldiers was the single largest capitulation in the Civil War.


This letter underscores the difference between the myth of the Civil War's end and its reality. Schoolbooks usually cite Lee's surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia on April 9, 1865 as the watershed moment, and indeed, it marked the beginning of the end. Yet the war officially dragged on until August 1866, when 17th U.S. President Andrew Johnson formally declared peace. Between April and November 1865, various Confederate generals, troops, vessels, and leaders surrendered one by one. The war's end was a process, not a precise moment. In addition, once the war was "won," the excruciating process of rebuilding began. How would former slaves be reintegrated into society? To what extent would the South be punished or forgiven? How would the national narrative be rewritten after this bloody episode of internecine warfare? Ruger addresses some of these fascinating questions in his letter.


Thomas H. Ruger was a West Point graduate who had retired from the army to become a lawyer in 1850s Wisconsin. At the outbreak of the Civil War, he reenlisted in the volunteer army and eventually achieved the rank of brigadier general. He saw action at the Battle of Antietam and led troops at Chancellorsville and Gettysburg. He mustered out of the volunteer army after the war and received a colonel's commission in the regular army. He was brevetted a brigadier general for his actions at Gettysburg and served as the Provisional Governor of Georgia from January 13 through July 4, 1868, and the District of Alabama until February 1, 1869.


An incredible glimpse into the waning days of the Civil War and the beginning of Reconstruction!

 

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Union Gen. Thomas H. Ruger ALS Re: Reconstructing

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Mar 27, 2019
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0047: Union Gen. Thomas H. Ruger ALS Re: Reconstructing

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Est. $1,500 - $1,600Starting Price $500
Autographed Documents, Books & Relics
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Lot 0047 Details

Description
...
Civil War

Union General Thomas H. Ruger ALS Refarding Reconstructing Charlotte, NC in May 1865: "I have my hands full"


4pp ALS inscribed overall and 2x signed by Union Brigadier General Thomas H. Ruger (1833-1907), both as "Howard," once in the text and once in a postscript on the last page. Written in Charlotte, North Carolina on May 10, 1865. On bifold cream blue-lined paper, embossed "Congress" at upper left. Accompanied by a pre-stamped envelope addressed to "Mrs. Thos. H. Ruger / Care of H.R. Moore + Sons / Beloit / Wisconsin," letter-opened at left.  The letter shows expected paper folds and light overall toning, else near fine. 7.875" x 10".


In early May 1865, Brigadier General Ruger was stationed in Charlotte, North Carolina while attached to Major General William Tecumseh Sherman's Military Division of the Mississippi. Ruger described the socio-economic conditions of the former Confederate stronghold in this letter to wife Helen Lydia Moore Ruger (1837-1912). Unlike other areas of the South recently devastated by Sherman's scorched earth policy, Charlotte was doing quite well. The city had ample food and agricultural labor was in demand. Trade had sprung up between local townspeople and Union troops eager to consume fresh produce and dairy after months of bacon and hardtack.


Ruger noted optimistically that everyone seemed receptive to reconciliation. Ex-Confederates wanted to preserve their war records and trophies for posterity, but otherwise cooperate with their erstwhile enemies. The major difficulty Ruger foresaw during these first weeks of Reconstruction was race relations. Southern society had to be reorganized. Manumitted blacks needed to decide whether to do the same agricultural work they had done unpaid as slaves, or emigrate North. Ruger had already observed a tendency of Southerners to over-rely on federal aid; this refrain, highly critical of Reconstruction, would only become louder over the next decade.


In part, with unchanged spelling and punctuation. Paragraph breaks have been added for increased legibility.


"I am here in the rebel city of Charlotte in command of an indefinitely defined district. Corps Head Quarters are at Greensboro ninety miles north of here. The 2d Div of the Corps is at Salisbury about 40 miles from here. For the interim between a condition of war and the reestablishment of the civil authority all power will rest in the military authorities. I am sent down here to keep order +c. As you may suppose between my Division and the people in this section of the state I have my hands full.


The town is pleasant the most so of any I have seen in the state. There is more in the country also than in any other portion we have visited. The troops are enabled to buy such things as fruit poultry butter eggs +c. The strawberries are ripe and abundant also cherries.

 



My Head Quarters are at the old U.S. Mint. We found quite a large quantity of rebel stores mostly naval and medical here. Gen Johnston who is here gave information to my Provost Marshal who presented the Div. of the place of storage of the Archives of the rebel War Dept. which he was anxious should be preserved for history we were of course. Gen Schofield sent a staff officer to take charge of them. All the reports of battles were among them. Also all the flags they had captured from us at different times.


The people soldiers and all give up and seem desirous of conforming to the new condition of things as speedily as possible. The question of the negros seems to be the principal trouble. The policy of the government seems to be to encourage them to stay with their former masters and labor so long as they are kindly treated and paid fair wages. I think it will be as much as will be done if the present year will result in sufficient for the support of all without suffering. The soil and manner of tilling in this state could never have paid by slave labor. The increase of the slaves must have been the main profit. Most of the negros will remain quietly at home I think, but some have an idea that they can come to the military posts and be fed by the Government the rest of their lives.

 



The whites and blacks come from considerable distances to ask all sorts of questions. Some of the Planters find a very big elephant on their hands where they have a good many women and children and the able bodied have gone off and want to know if such cannot be made to support their families and whether those able to work who hire (?) to others will be allowed to keep their present cabins and live on their former masters land and so on…"


Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston (1807-1891) had relinquished his Army of the Tennessee, as well as Confederate forces in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida, just two weeks earlier, on April 26, 1865. This was the culmination of three days' negotiation with Sherman on April 17, 18, and 26, 1865 at Bennett Place, near Durham, North Carolina. Johnston's surrender of over 89,000 soldiers was the single largest capitulation in the Civil War.


This letter underscores the difference between the myth of the Civil War's end and its reality. Schoolbooks usually cite Lee's surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia on April 9, 1865 as the watershed moment, and indeed, it marked the beginning of the end. Yet the war officially dragged on until August 1866, when 17th U.S. President Andrew Johnson formally declared peace. Between April and November 1865, various Confederate generals, troops, vessels, and leaders surrendered one by one. The war's end was a process, not a precise moment. In addition, once the war was "won," the excruciating process of rebuilding began. How would former slaves be reintegrated into society? To what extent would the South be punished or forgiven? How would the national narrative be rewritten after this bloody episode of internecine warfare? Ruger addresses some of these fascinating questions in his letter.


Thomas H. Ruger was a West Point graduate who had retired from the army to become a lawyer in 1850s Wisconsin. At the outbreak of the Civil War, he reenlisted in the volunteer army and eventually achieved the rank of brigadier general. He saw action at the Battle of Antietam and led troops at Chancellorsville and Gettysburg. He mustered out of the volunteer army after the war and received a colonel's commission in the regular army. He was brevetted a brigadier general for his actions at Gettysburg and served as the Provisional Governor of Georgia from January 13 through July 4, 1868, and the District of Alabama until February 1, 1869.


An incredible glimpse into the waning days of the Civil War and the beginning of Reconstruction!

 

WE PROVIDE IN-HOUSE SHIPPING WORLDWIDE!


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