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Authorizing Supplies for Virginia State Forces
Three Weeks after Secession
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Ruggles, a brigadier general in the provisional state army, writes to the Commissary General of Volunteer Forces in Richmond, authorizing supplies to be purchased for the use of his volunteer unit in northern Virginia by Captain Seth French. His letter anticipates the U.S. threat to the state batteries at Aquia Creek, which were attacked later that month, on May 29. “The bearer of this communication Capt Seth B. French asst commissary of subsistence at this Head Quarters will explain to you in detail the operations in his department … I deem it proper to remark that purchases made by him are in accordance with my instructions in anticipation of the wants of the Forces authorised to be assembled here…”

DANIEL RUGGLES. Letter Signed, to Major James R. Crenshaw. Fredericksburg, Va., May 8, 1861. 2 pp., 7¾ x 9¾ in. Docketed on verso of integral blank.

Inventory #21771       Price: $1,800

Complete Transcript

Head Quarters Fredericksburg Va

May 8, 1861

To Maj Jas R Crenshaw

            Commissary Genl Vol Forces

            Richmond Va

            Sir,

            The bearer of this communication Capt Seth B. French asst commissary of subsistence at this Head Quarters will explain to you in detail the operations in his department.

            I deem it proper to remark that purchases made by him are in accordance with my instructions in anticipation of the wants of the Forces authorised to be assembled here. I would also recommend that corn meal should be purchased in this district where corn is comparatively abundant and flour scarce, and substituted for the ration in part for the subsistence of the Volunteer Forces.

            I also recommend that the place proposed by Capt French, of purchasing a large number of beef cattle and held in reserve in part for the use of the Forces be carried into effect. I have also to state for your information that I find it necessary in the performance of the duties of the subsistence Dept., in detail at remote points to employ persons as acting asst commissaries of subsistence, possessing as nearly as I can command, the requisite qualifications [2]

            I hope that it is the policy of your Department to approve of appointments thus made under an emergency.

            I respectfully request that Capt French may be permitted to remain as the senior in his Department on duty at these Head Quarters.

                                                Very Respectfully

                                                Your Obt Servt

                                    Daniel Ruggles

                                    Brig Genl. Vols Commanding Forces

[docket:] Head Quarters / Fredericksburg / May 8-/61 / Daniel Ruggles, Brig: / General of Vols Commanding / Forces. / Relative to purchases made / by Capt. Seth B. French, A.C.S. / &c. / No answer

Historical Background

Following the surrender of Fort Sumter and Lincoln’s call for 75,000 troops to put down the rebellion, Virginia seceded from the Union on April 17, 1861. Ruggles officially resigned his commission in the U.S. Army on May 7, 1861, the day prior to this letter. However, he had begun working for the provisional army of Virginia at an earlier date, scouting the region near Aquia Creek for the placement of batteries.

Daniel Ruggles (1810-1897), a Massachusetts native who married into a Virginia family and followed his adopted state into secession, was commissioned brigadier general in August 1861, and led a division in Braxton Bragg’s corps at Shiloh. He commanded the 1st Division of the II Corps of the Army of Mississippi in late 1862 and 1863. Thereafter his duties were, for the most part, administrative.


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