Bridge Burner: Being the full and
factual story of Dr. William Parks Rucker slave-owning Union Partisan.
Michael P. Rucker
the early months of the Civil War Dr. (and later Major) William Parks Rucker
managed to become one of the most despised individuals in the South – and a
hero to those who supported the Union. He was a slave owner who fiercely
opposed the Confederacy. His initial act to antagonize Southern supporters was
to stab to death a man who challenged his outspoken support for the Union.
Following that incident he led Union troops to burn the Cowpasture River Bridge
of the Virginia Central Railroad.
thereafter he was captured in Summersville, WV by Confederate cavalry led by
the audacious spy Nancy Hart. There ensued an emotional argument between
Virginia Governor John Letcher and the Confederate authorities as to which had
the right to place him on trial – and hang him. In the meantime, President
Lincoln personally authorized placing a Confederate surgeon “in close
confinement” as a hostage in the event Rucker was harmed or executed.
his 15 months of imprisonment Rucker became the focus of the most acrimonious
prisoner exchange problem between the Union and the Confederacy. There are
entries in the Official Records of the Rebellion concerning the
difficulties of his exchange – more than that of any other prisoner-of-war.
was moved about to ten different jails and prisons to prevent the Union Army
from releasing him. He finally escaped and after a harrowing flight to safety
reached the Union encampment at Gauley Bridge. As aide-de-camp to General
George Crook his first official duty was as a scout to lead the burning of
another bridge - the important New River Bridge of the Virginia & Tennessee
experiences after the war were equally adventurous. He became a lawyer in
Lewisburg, West Virginia and defended the accused murderers in both the famous
Greenbrier Ghost case and the case against the son of Nancy Hart who had led
Union troops to his capture during the war.
He assisted his former slave, Charlotte Scott, in establishing the first
monument to Abraham Lincoln – the Emancipation Memorial.
Rucker’s experiences make for a
volume that maintains one’s interest right up until his death.
WV- Quarrier Press is pleased to announce the release of its newest title:
Burner - being the full and factual story of Dr. William Parks Rucker
slave-owning Union Partisan.
Most books concerning the Civil War
era focus on major military events or on well-known military or political
leaders. This narrative varies from that motif. It concerns an individual, who,
initially as a civilian and later as an officer, managed to become universally
despised within his home state of Virginia – but respected in the new state of
West Virginia. His treasonous antics, his capture, imprisonment and eventual
escape were constantly in newspapers throughout the South. President Lincoln
approved holding a Confederate surgeon as hostage to assure Rucker’s safety.
Negotiations concerning the possibility of his exchange as a prisoner-of-war
caused more disruption in that process than that of any other prisoner on
either side. Governor Letcher of Virginia became obsessively involved with his
case. In 1864 Governor Boreman of West Virginia appointed him to head up
recruiting of Union troops within that state.
The extreme fervor of the era
(during and following the Civil War) is dramatically revealed in the remarkable
life experiences of this obsessed individual. His post-war history is no less
dramatic than his war time activities.
This book will be of interest to
Civil War scholars of the region. His post war involvements were also
remarkable and varied. His experiences make for a volume that maintains one’s
interest right up to the end.
book focuses on the excitement and general interest of a significant and
perpetually interesting individual. Every detail of his remarkable life has
been researched extensively and documented which will make this volume of
interest to Civil War scholars of all levels.