Gen. Thomas H. Ruger

Gen. Thomas H. Ruger

Cowan’s recently auctioned off several items related to Gen. Thomas H. Ruger, who commanded at the Battle of Franklin.

In the first week of November, Ruger was offered command of a Division in 28th Corps in Tennessee under George Thomas unless Sherman and Slocum (who did not want to have him leave their command) could offer him one. Ruger describes his meeting with Sherman:

“I gave [Sherman] Gen. Slocum’s letter and remarked that if the two Corps of the Army of the Cumberland the 14th and 20th were to be operated as an army it would place Gen. Williams in command of the 20th Corps and that would give me the Division during the campaign at least. He shook his head and said enough to let me know he had no such intention and directed the order for my transfer to be made out, said that it was not a good plan to ‘stay too long in one hole’ and besides Gen Schofield was very anxious to have me come.”

He received command of 2nd Div., 28 Corps, shortly before the Battle of Franklin, where he would earn a lasting reputation.

Nov. 28: “I want you to make your position perfectly secure so as to render it impossible for the enemy to effect a crossing at that place. You may retain the guns which you have without horses even at the risk of losing them. If the bridge is not sufficiently burned to render it useless to the enemy complete it tonight under the cover of darkness….”

At 8 a.m. on the 29th, word the order went out “The enemy is coming in force above us,” ordering Ruger to leave a regiment to guard the river.

When it was over, Ruger described the Battle of Franklin to his wife:

“The attack of the enemy was very strong and determined much the hardest I have seen west a good deal like the attacks of [Stonewall] Jackson. We repulsed the enemy with loss, but as A.J. Smith’s command and other were not up we fell back here where they are for concentration. The force we had was much smaller than the enemy….”

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