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    Thomas H. Ruger Letters (4) Recounting the Close of the Civil War and the Surrender of Joseph E. Johnston. A small archive of letters relating to the Union general, written from April 22 to May 16, 1865 all addressed to his wife. Ruger signed all of his letters as "Howard." The 28-year-old Ruger enlisted as a Lieutenant Colonel in 1861 and was commissioned into the Field & Staff department of the 3rd Wisconsin Infantry. A year later, he was promoted to the US Volunteers General Staff. Over the course of the war, Ruger was promoted numerous times, ultimately being breveted Brigadier General. At the conclusion of the war, Ruger aided with Reconstruction in various Southern States, and later became superintendent at the U.S. Military Academy.

    Ruger's first letter came at the conclusion of the war, while he was stationed with Sherman in North Carolina. He writes to his wife of his hopes for the peace negotiations and of the shock of Lincoln's assassination. Eight pages, 5" x 8", Raleigh, North Carolina; April 22, 1865, in part:

    "...we are resting quietly in camp having reviews by Gen. Sherman of the different corps and waiting for the result of the recent arrangement for the disbanding of all the rebel forces still in the field, which to be carried into effect needs the ratification of the government at Washington. The morning to which I have referred as the one on which we were to have moved, the order for march was countermanded after the army had got under motion in consequence of a communication by flag of truce from Gen. Johnston to Gen. Sherman asking for a suspension of hostilities until Gen. Sherman could communicate with Gen. Grant and ascertain if Gen. Johnston could surrender his army on the same terms as that granted to Gen. Lee. Gen. Sherman replied that he had the power to treat on the subject, whereupon after personal interviews in which Gen. Sherman sought for the surrender of all the rebel forces still in arms, it was agreed subject to ratification of the Gov. at Washington that the rebel armies should be disbanded... Gen. Sherman talks very freely about matters and from all I learn from his staff and his orders I think he confidently expects his agreement will be ratified...The news of the murder of the President came in the midst of the universal joy at the favorable aspect of affairs, with a great shock and caused great gloom throughout the army from which it has not yet recovered. Most of the people here seemed to think it a blow to them, as well. The news came to Gen. Sherman as he was talking to Johnston who it is said was very much affected and said that the South had lost the best friend it had in the death of the President."

    Four days later, on April 26, 1865, the news came through that Sherman's peace agreement was not approved by Washington and further negotiations had to take place. In this letter to his wife, Ruger detailed the movements of Sherman and Grant as they were working to end the war. Eight pages, 5" x 8", Raleigh, North Carolina, in part: "The agreement made by Gen. Sherman with the rebel authorities was not ratified at Washington so notice was sent to Johnston to that effect - and demanding a surrender otherwise hostilities would be resumed on the expiration of the 48 hours notice agreed upon at the meeting...the fact that Gen. Sherman and Gen. Schofield have gone to the front it is inferred that Johnson has offered to surrender. Gen. Grant was here day before yesterday but I do not know whether he is still here and gone with Gen. Sherman or not...So far as Johnston is concerned he can surrender on the same terms as Lee, which would practically end the war East of the Mississippi and probably the rebel force in Texas would disband..."

    The next day, Ruger wrote a follow-up letter to announce that Johnston had officially surrendered and to muse on what would become of the army. Four pages, 5" x 8", Raleigh, North Carolina; April 27, 1865, in part: "As you will know before this reaches you, Johnston has surrendered and the war may truly be said to be over. The surrender by Johnston included all rebel forces East of the Chattanooga River. All organized rebel troops left are those of Dick Taylor in Alabama and Mississippi not a large force and those west of the Mississippi river under Kirby Smith. I was told at Gen. Shermans today that Gen. Grant thought they were by this time getting ready to surrender...I have heard but not officially that our corps will go to Greensboro. It is supposed that a large portion of the army will soon be mustered out, all not needed in the field."

    Following the surrender of the Confederacy, Ruger relocated to the former Confederate city of Charlotte to aid Reconstruction. This included figuring out how to manage society and the economy now that slaves across the country were emancipated. His letter, four pages, 7.75" x 10", Charlotte, North Carolina; May 16, 1865, reads in part:

    "I am here in the rebel city of Charlotte in command of an indefinitely defined district...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...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. 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 [illegible] 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 [illegible] 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 depart 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..."

    Together with a letter from Thomas J. Ruger, Ruger's father, dated November 28, 1870, which details his account for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1870 and his payment with vouchers. Thomas H. Ruger (1833-1907) went on to hold positions in the Department of Dakota, the Military Division of the Pacific, the Department of the East, and many others. In 1887, he led an expedition during the Crow War through the Big Horn Mountains. Ruger retired from the Army in 1897, and passed away in Stamford, Connecticut on June 3, 1907.

    Condition: Usual mail folds, with light toning around the edges. Very good condition.

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    October, 2018
    25th Thursday
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