Col. Charles Frederick Ruff – Brevet Brig. General

charles-ruff

Born: October 10, 1818

Died: October 1, 1885

Plot: Section 105, Lot 37

Charles Frederick Ruff was born in Philadelphia, and at the age of 16 entered the U. S. Military Academy at West Point. He graduated in 1938 in a class of 44 and was the 894th cadet to graduate since the Academy was formed in 1802.

The early part of his career (1938-1843) was spent in frontier country in the mid-west. He entered service as a 2nd Lieut. in the 1st Dragoons (a cavalry unit which fights dismounted with carbines, sabers and pistols). Initially, he attended the Calvary School for Practice in Carlisle, PA. (1838-1839) and was assigned to the recruiting service in 1839. Then onto frontier duty in the mid-west, where the unit engaged Native American nations and tribes such as the Sioux, Osage, Kiowa, Comanche, Choctaw, and Chickasaw in Kansas, Missouri, Osage Country, and Iowa. The duty involved fighting the Indians, protecting settlers, supporting the country’s efforts to secure treaties with the nations, and helping to resolve disagreements between the nations

In 1843 he resigned to be a Counselor at Law, in Liberty, Mo.

He reentered the army on June 18, 1846 serving as a Lt. Colonel in the Recruiting service in Missouri. The following month on July 7th he entered the War with Mexico as a Captain in a Mounted Rifle unit (cavalry fighting with rifles on horseback). His first action was a skirmish on August 1, 1847 at San Juan de los Llanos and he was recommended for Brevet Major “for Gallant and Meritorious Conduct.” He went on to fight in the Battles of Contreras, Molino del Rey (where he was wounded), Chapultepec, and the Assault and Capture of the City of Mexico in September, 1847.

In 1848 he is back on frontier duty at Ft. Kearny, Nebraska as Brevet Major of the 3rd Calvary. He marries Ann (Annie) Dougherty and has two children. In 1849 he will be a big part in a major endeavor to build a relatively safe route from the mid-west to the Pacific coast, subsequently named The Oregon Trail. Settlers were flooding west to find land and gold and riches in California and Oregon. Prior to this time the army tried to protect them by shows of force, treaties, punitive military expeditions, and military escort. Brevet Col. William W. Loring begins the Trail establishment by setting out on May 10, 1849 from Ft. Leavenworth Kansas on the Missouri River for Ft. Kearny with Companies A,D,F,H, K with 600 men, 700 horses, 171 wagons, 1200 mules and some oxen. He reaches Ft. Kearny on May 31st. where he is joined by Brevet Major Ruff and Company I. They head west, after leaving a contingent of Calvary (men and supplies) to keep that garrison safe (as they will for subsequent garrisons they establish) as the way stations along the Trail. They arrive in Ft. Laramie, Wyoming on June 22nd, leaving Companies D & F there, Ft. Hall on the Snake River and leave Companies H & K, and they reached their destination 2500 miles later, at Oregon City on October 8th.

It is estimated that 35,000 individuals took part in the great migration that year. Also making the trip were his wife Annie and two daughters; Mary, age 4, and Margaret, age 1.

In the 1850s he continued with frontier duties in Texas and New Mexico except for an assignment as Superintendent of Cavalry Recruiting Service (1852-53), and commanding the Cavalry School for Practice (1853-55).

In 1861 he was promoted to Lt. Colonel and assigned as a Mustering Officer in Philadelphia. On June 12th 1863 Governor A. G. Curtin of Pennsylvania issued a proclamation to the people of the state of the desire to raise sufficient force to protect the state from a potential invasion by the Rebels. On June 28th (3 days before Gettysburg) the Rebels occupied York and Wrightsville and Curtin feared they would cross the Susquehanna River and head east. That same day, Curtin, a friend of Lincoln’s, wired Lincoln urging him to transfer Ruff to mustering duty under General Couch in eastern Pennsylvania for the purpose of raising and organizing a 60,000 man militia. He writes of Ruff– “A graduate of West Point, an experienced and thoroughly educated officer…” The transfer was made and Ruff is credited with raising 50,000 troops.

He retired from active duty on March 30 1864 and on March 13, 1865 he was granted promotions to Brevet Colonel and Brevet Brig. General “for the Faithful and Meritorious Services in Recruiting the Armies of the United States.”

Following the Army he served on Court Martial (1867-68), Judge Advocate of the Department East, Acting Adjutant-General (1868), and was a Professor of Military Science at the University of Pennsylvania (1868-1870).

He died in Philadelphia on October 1, 1885 and is interred at Mt .Moriah at Sect 105, Lot 37. His wife Annie died in 1909 and is interred in the same Lot.

 

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One Comment on “Col. Charles Frederick Ruff – Brevet Brig. General

  1. Please note: a biography of Ruff’s wife, Annie Elizabeth Dougherty Ruff, will be published soon – hopefully before Christmas 2016. Please note, as well, the 2013-published “Lost Voices on the Missouri: John Dougherty and the Indian Frontier” concerns the father of Annie Ruff – available at the Museum of the Mountain Man and the Clay County Archives in Liberty, Missouri.

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