A Biographical Sketch of Edward Lewis Rucker

Edward Lewis Rucker was born 11/5/41 in Amherst County, Virginia, the third child of John Dabney Lewis Rucker and Lucy Jane Tinsley.[1] In 1850 he was at home with his parents, older siblings John F. and Sallie and younger ones Nancy, "Belsey" (Elizabeth), "May" (Mary Frances), and "Chapman" (Rhoderick Dawson). [2] Ten years later, Lucy Jane had died, and John Dabney was caring for five minors, Cornelia Alice having been born before Lucy's death. [3]  Edward Lewis was no longer at home.
   The population of Amherst was preparing for the possibility of war in May of 1861. In April, the County Court had recognized the "threatening aspect of public affairs"[4] and soon after provided funds to arm the standing militia and supply new volunteers, including a company of cavalry called the "Amherst Rangers."[5] Virginia's Ordinance of Secession was adopted 4/17/616 and on the day it was overwhelmingly approved by the voters of Virginia, 5/23/61,[7] Edward enlisted as a private in the Amherst Rangers. He was a clerk when he left civilian life, and signed up for a one-year hitch, bringing his $175 horse and $25 of equipment. [8] He and his comrades saw action that summer at First Manassas as part of the 30th Regiment, Virginia Volunteers, then proceeded to picket and scouting duty through the winter of 1861-62. [9]  
     The Confederacy instituted a draft in the Spring of 1862, but Edward had already reenlisted for two years 2/24/62.[10] The first-year volunteers found the draft insulting, as most had planned to take Edward's course out of patriotic sentiment.[11] The Amherst Rangers were now reorganized as Company E of the 2nd Virginia Cavalry, CSA.[12] Edward endured the rigors of that year's battles from the Shenandoah Valley campaign through Dranesville in December.[13]  Worn out from combat and camp life, Edward caught typhoid fever and was admitted to St. Charles Hospital (Richmond General Hospital No. 8) 1/21/63, was transferred to Hospital No. 21, and then began a ninety day furlough 3/26/63.[14] This would have returned him to duty just in time for the invasion of the North, culminating in the battle of Gettysburg.[15] More hard fighting followed, and at year's end the 2nd Virginia received a much-­deserved rest when it disbanded in December. Edward and Company E arrived back in Amherst on Christmas Eve.[16] After the holiday with their families, the entire regiment was summoned to Lynchburg for a dress parade 1/20/64, and no doubt bachelor Edward was delighted with the sumptuous feast and ball given by the grateful citizens.[17]
     Company E left Amherst 2/5/64, at full strength of ninety­ five men.[18] Edward reenlisted 3/1/64 at Orange Courthouse, for the war's duration.[19] Some of the hardest fighting of the war followed, and in the battles at Todd's Tavern and Spotsylvania Courthouse, the Amherst unit absorbed most of the damage dealt the 2nd Virginia.[20] The fighting in the Wilderness continued unabated, and at Yellow Tavern on May 11, J.E.B. Stuart received his mortal wound, ignoring the entreaties of a 2nd Va trooper to remove himself to a protected position.[21] By the next day, both Stuart [22] and Edward Lewis lay dead. [23] The muster rolls specify that Edward was killed May 12 at Yellow Tavern but that battle was actually fought the day before. It is not known if he was mortally wounded on the 11th, or was killed in action the next day in the vicinity of Yellow Tavern. His body was likely left on the battlefield without burial, given the ferocity of the fighting and fluidity of troop movements.[24] Carried to Richmond and buried in Hollywood Cemetery in an unmarked grave,[25] he is memorialized by a marker placed by the author 6/28/98 in the "Soldiers' Valley" section.
     Family history claims the death of "Booker" Rucker at Yellow Tavern,[26] presumably based on a postwar roster[27] of Company E. It is possible that the roster's author was poorly served by memory, perhaps many years after the war, and was familiar with Booker Hall Lewis Rucker, born after the war to Edward's older brother, John Fleming.[28] No documentation for another Booker Rucker is found in the family history, and the only Rucker appearing in Amherst area casualty lists is Edward Lewis.[29] A newspaper clipping of this "Booker" Rucker's death reads: "Shot in the center of his forehead and killed dead at Yellow Tavern, fighting Sheridan, in his "On to Richmond," May, 1864. "He was a soldier, every inch of him - brave, efficient, strictly attentive to duty." He rests quietly "where the winds are gently singing a requiem o'er his grave."

Compiled August 18, 1998 by Christopher D. Rucker, M.D.,
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