Letter – Rufus King, 27 July 1862


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Letter written by Brigadier General Rufus King to Colonel George D. Ruggles, Chief of Staff of the Army of Virginia, from the division headquarters in Fredericksburg, VA. King is writing to report to the headquarters of Major General John Pope on the reconnaissance march of General John Gibbon’s troops towards Orange Court House. King writes that Gibbon has already returned to the camp, and has reported that the forces of Confederate generals Beverly H. Robertson, Richard S. Ewell, and Stonewall Jackson are located near Orange Court House and Liberty Mills. King states that the Confederates were expecting an attack from Warrenton or Madison Court House, rather than Fredericksburg.

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Division Head Quarters

                               Fredericksburg, July 27,‘62

                                     11 A.M.

Col. Geo. D. Ruggles

Chief of Staff, Army of Virginia

Washington, D.C.


                  I telegraphed yesterday to Head Quarters the result, as far as ascertained, of our expedition in the direction of Orange Court House. The column bivouacked, last night, about 18 or 20 miles from here, and, early this morning, resumed its march for camp. The advance is now within a few miles of town. They have met with no casualties. I will transmit Gen. Gibbon’s detailed report of the movement, as soon as it is rendered.

              Gen. Gibbon himself   has this moment

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returned. He confirms substantially what I telegraphed, to wit: that Gen. Beverly H. Robertson, with two or three regiments of cavalry, is within a mile of Orange C. H.  Gen. Ewell, with a force of all arms, three miles beyond; and the rest of [Stonewall] Jackson’s forces stretched along for six miles towards Liberty Mills. The whole force is estimated at 25 to 30,000 men. They were anticipating an attack from the direction of Warrenton or Madison Court House, and did not expect an advance from this direction.

                                Very respectfully,

                                       Rufus King

                                          Brig. Gen. Cmdg.

General Rufus King, was the Union general who organized the famous Black Hat or Iron Brigade. In July of 1862 Gen. McDowell told King to “use every effort and employ all the means in your power to obtain… reliable information of the enemy at Louisa Court House and Gordonsville [OR’s 1-12-3-498].” King chose John Gibbon, now commander of the “Black Hat” brigade, for this mission. Gibbon was told to “ascertain what Confederate forces are at Orange Court House and Gordonsville.” Gibbon’s troops consisted of a detachment from the Iron Brigade (2nd, 6th, 7th Wisconsin Inf., Battery B, 4th U.S. Artillery) and several other units from King’s division (3rd Indiana Cavalry, and Co’s. A,C, 2nd U.S. Sharpshooters).

Letter – Fletcher Webster, 18 July 1862


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Letter written by Colonel Fletcher Webster of the 12th MA Infantry to his friend William Dehon, from Warrenton, VA. Webster is heartbroken from the loss of his 11 year old daughter Julia, and writes of plans for her burial. He mentions that he ate dinner with Dehon’s son Arthur the previous night. Arthur wants to join a general’s staff, and Webster has written to George Ruggles on the matter.

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Warrenton, Va.

                                July 18, 62

My dear William:

     I received your kind letter last evening. You have nearly exhausted my capacity of gratitude, I believe.

     It was a cutting stroke, indeed; right to my heart.

     But after the first rebellious feelings & agony were got over, I tried to resign myself. I had looked forward to it, but apprehension was not preparation.

     Of course

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I shall be myself. You know how heavy the affliction; you know how I loved; you shall see how I can bear it, dear William.

     I had thought that it would have been already done at Marshfield [i.e. burial at Webster’s home]. I had written to say that I supposed so. I wish it, and shall so write to Caroline [wife]. They all lie there. How dear the place is becoming to me.

     If you and Butler Eaton will be kind enough to do it, I wish you would. It would be most grateful to

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me. Most kind and honorable to her,  & ever memorable by us all. A very remarkable tribute to regard to her.

     I am glad that you met Fanny. She is as Webster as Webster can be; very clever, good & amiable. She has had a hard lot, and bears it like a princess. Her presence was a godsend to poor Caroline.

     Joy has been the kindest of brothers. When you can, dear William, go to Lynn, and see them. There never yet was a dark day to me or mine that

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you did not come to my relief, dating from a period before Fanny’s birth!

     Arthur supped with us last night. We sent out and caught a few little fish in a small stream & I asked him in. He would like to be on some gen’s staff. I have written to Ruggles on the subject. If Haviland were not here, I would put him on mine, but I should like to have him do better. I have not heard from Ruggles.

     Think much of Arthur. He is a fine young man, and will do credit to his name. I love him like a son.

     Give my dearest love to Butler & Eaton. Dear Friends!

     I shall write to Caroline about Marshfield.

           Good bye, dear William,  

Yrs  Fletcher

Fletcher Webster was the only surviving child of the famous Massachusetts Senator and orator, Daniel Webster. He organized the “Webster Regiment,” the 12th MA Infantry in 1861 at the age of 47. He was killed in action on the afternoon of August 30, 1862 at the Battle of 2nd Bull Run. Lt. Arthur Dehon, obtained a special pass from the C.S. authorities to recover the body of his dead colonel.

Arthur Dehon was William Dehon’s son and a 2nd Lieutenant in Webster’s 12 MA Infantry.