Why Rufus Ingalls?
|That is a reasonable question.
What started as a footnote in a title search (it was really a dispute that was fast turning into a lawsuit. Now I have a better understanding of the term 'Damn Yankee'), turned into a comment to my 5 year old nephew with an interest in the Civil War. "My land was owned by a Civil War General" resulted in a slightly disbelieving look from the bright youngster.
The 1871 deed was signed Rufus Ingalls, General US Army, NY City. Surely a general at that time had served in the Civil War was my thinking.
It was a couple of years later when I was curious enough about this general that I started to dig a little. The web makes that thousands of times easier than just a few years ago. This general was one of hundreds that served in the Civil War, but there was more. Much more.
Unlike his West Point pals, Rufus had a series of assignments that would become the United States as we know it today. Grant, Sherman, Pickett, Pope, McClellan, Longstreet and most of the others that attended West Point in Rufus' era would be unknown if it were not for the Civil War. Grant was a clerk in his fathers store at the start of the war and had failed at everything he tried after he left the army.
Rufus was a proven soldier and excellent quartermaster, always completing the assignment at hand. I cannot find a single instance of failure in his 40 year army career. Considering the complexity of supplying a huge army in the Civil War (or any other assignment he had) that is an amazing statement. The Army of the Potomac had few problems of supply during the Civil War. And what problems they had were always 'upstream' of Ingalls or simply unpredictable, such as the outbreak of hoof and mouth disease.
What this journey has done is given me a great appreciation for an impressive individual and an amazing and fascinating tour of American history. This tour is far more interesting when you are not looking at a jumble of dates and events, but a real personality that had a real impact on the events that became our American history.
Every history has its sad stories. Ours is filled with them, especially for the Indians or Native Americans and the generation lost to the Civil War.
It is difficult for us to comprehend how truly difficult life was 150 years ago. A hot shower was not a luxury, it was unknown!
My lawsuit was settled after three years, my nephew may believe me, and I have learned a tremendous lesson in American history.