Collection Title: Alfred Rupert Civil War Papers
Collection Number: MS Coll 158
Dates of Collection: 1861-1909
Extent: 0.3 linear feet
Repository: Chester County History Center, West Chester, PA
Project Archivist: Jeffrey Cantwell and Laura Parrish
Alfred Rupert, son of Rachel Acheff (ca. 1811-1890; sometimes listed as Ann) and William Rupert (ca. 1808-1870), was born in Russellville, Chester County, Pennsylvania, on May 28, 1837. He attended Hopewell Academy and later worked in George Worrall’s bookstore in West Chester. Around 1858, he became Deputy Recorder of Chester County.
His siblings were Noah (ca. 1833-1916), George M. (1835-1920; a lawyer who served in the Civil War), Charles A. (1840-1905), David Hayes (ca. 1846-1923; served in the 196th Pennsylvania Volunteers), and Martha J. (later Mrs. John Y. Latta). A first cousin was John A. Rupert; Alfred and John married sisters: Alfred to Mary Elisabeth Groff (1843-1908) and John to Sarah Louise Groff.
When the Civil War began, the Brandywine Guard, a local volunteer company, was formed in West Chester. Rupert enlisted as a private, and the Guard became Company A of the First Pennsylvania Reserves. Rupert’s company saw action in the Seven Days’ Battle, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Gettysburg, and Bethesda Church. Rupert was wounded at Gettysburg, and his first enlistment ended in June 1864. In March 1865, he re-enlisted as Adjutant in the 192nd Pennsylvania Infantry.
Upon his discharge in August 1865, Rupert was conferred the rank of brevet captain by President Andrew Johnson. After the war, Rupert operated a bookstore in West Chester and served other civic roles, such as the Prothonotary of Chester County, West Chester’s Justice of the Peace, and colonel with the National Guard of Pennsylvania. He and his wife, Mary Elisabeth, had three children, Frank B., Eva (Mrs. J. Frank Hause), and Jennie. Rupert died in his home on North High Street on December 23, 1898.
Thomas Wilberforce Egan, born in New York City in 1836, served in several Civil War campaigns in Virginia, including at Seven Pines, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Devil’s Den, Wilderness, Spotsylvania, Petersburg, and Burgesses’ Mill. He was eventually conferred his highest military rank, major general, on October 27, 1864. He died in 1887. William Henry Gilder (1838-1900) served on Egan’s staff.
The Civil War papers of Alfred Rupert measure 0.3 linear feet and date from 1861 to 1909. Found within the papers are personal letters written by Alfred Rupert, primarily to his brother, Charles A. Rupert, while serving with the Union Army during the Civil War. The letters contain observations of his travels through Maryland, Washington, D.C., and Virginia; musings on the war’s progress; and descriptions of camp life, battles, and other events. Additional material includes letters from family and friends, along with papers documenting his military service. The collection also includes handwritten circulars, or military orders, as issued by Brevet Major General Thomas Wilberforce Egan in 1865.
The Alfred Rupert Civil War papers measure 0.3 linear feet and date from 1861 to 1909. The collection includes Rupert’s personal correspondence dating from 1861 to 1865. These letters were written during his military service in the Civil War and are addressed primarily to his brother, Charles A. Rupert. Topics often relate to the areas that he passed through with the Union Army, including parts of Maryland, Washington, D.C., and Virginia, and feature accounts of camp life, adverse traveling conditions, rumors, provisions, funerals, battles, and other events. He records opinions on slavery and the Emancipation Proclamation, speculates on the war’s progress and military leadership, and describes the devastation he witnessed in parts of Virginia, including a deserted Manassas. This collection also includes letters written by George M. Rupert (brother of Alfred) and John A. Rupert (cousin of Alfred).
Personal papers contains various documents dating from 1861 to 1909 pertaining to Alfred Rupert’s military service and the finances of his family, his wife’s family, and others.
The collection also includes handwritten circulars, or military orders, as issued by Brevet Major General Thomas Wilberforce Egan and dating from March 23 to April 29, 1865. These were written on thin paper and provided by Egan’s staff assistant, William Henry Gilder. Many circulars pertain to personnel issues, such as asking for the names of telegraph operators or issuing orders for the setting of pickets. Also mentioned are copies of telegrams announcing the federal occupation of Richmond, the capture of Lincoln’s assassins, and the surrender of Joseph E. Johnston’s army.
Processing History: The collection was processed and described through a grant from the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission in 2005. Updates to the biographical and scope and content notes were provided by Jeffrey Cantwell and Laura Parrish in 2023.
The collection is arranged as 3 series:
The Chester County History Center Library holds additional letters written by Alfred Rupert to his brother, George M. Rupert (MS 33891-34060); the Photo Archives also holds a cabinet card of Alfred Rupert standing in front of his bookstore.
Series 1: Correspondence, 1861-1865
Folder 1: Alfred Rupert, 1861
Item 1: Mount Clare, near Baltimore, Tuesday morning, July 28, 1861
Item 2: Annapolis Junction, Sunday, August 4, 1861
Item 3: Headquarters 1st Regiment, PRVC, Camp Tennally, MD, Sunday, September 8, 1861
Item 4: Headquarters 1st Regiment P.R., Camp Tennally, MD, Tuesday, September 24, 1861
Item 5: Wednesday morning, September 25, 1861
Item 6: Camp Tennally near Georgetown, DC, Friday noon, October 4, 1861
Item 7: Head Quarters 1st Regt. PRVC, Camp Pierpont, VA, Wednesday eve, March 27, 1861
Item 8: Head Quarters 1st Regt. PRVC, Camp Pierpont, VA, Wednesday eve, Dec. 4, 1861
Item 9: Head Quarters 1st Regt. PRVC, Camp Pierpont, VA, Sunday eve, Dec. 22/24, 1861
Folder 2: Alfred Rupert, January – April 1862
Item 10: Head Quarters 1st Regiment PRVC, Camp Pierpont, Fairfax Co., VA, January 3, 1862
Item 11: Camp Hawkhurst, VA, 3 miles south Hunter’s Mill, Wednesday, March 11-14, 1862
Item 12: Camp near Alexandria, VA, Wednesday, March 24, 1862
Item 13: Manassas, VA, Thursday afternoon, April 10, 1862
Folder 3 Alfred Rupert, June-July 1862
Item 14: Camp near Fredericksburg, VA, Tuesday, June 3, 1862
Item 15: Head Quarters 1st Regt. PRC, Camp near Falmouth, June 8, 1862
Item 16: Head Quarters 1st Regt. PRC, Camp near Dispatch Station, VA, Wed., June 18, 1862
Item 17: Head Quarters 1st Regt. PRC, Camp 6 mile North Richmond, Tues., June 24, 1862
Item 18: Head Quarters 1st Regt. PRVC, Harrison’s Landing, VA, Monday, July 28, 1862
Folder 4: Alfred Rupert, September – December 1862
Item 19: Head Quarters 1st Regiment PRC, near Upton Hill, VA, Friday, September 5, 1862
Item 20: Head Quarters 1st Regiment PRC, near Sharpsburg, MD, Thurs., October 16, 1862
Item 21: Head Quarters 1st Infantry, October 20, 1862
Item 22: Head Quarters 1st Regiment PRC, Warrenton, VA, November 8, 1862
Item 23: Head Quarters 1st Regiment Infantry PRC, November 29, 1862
Item 24: Head Quarters 1st Regiment, near Acquia Creek, VA, December 5, 1862
Folder 5: Alfred Rupert, 1863
Item 25: Head Quarters 1st Regiment PRC, January 5, 1863
Item 26: Head Quarters 1st Regiment PRC, near Belle Plain, VA, January 24, 1863
Item 27: Head Quarters 1st Regiment PRC, February 2, 1863
Item 28: Head Quarters 1st Regiment PRC, Union Mills, VA, Thursday, February 19, 1863
Item 29: Head Quarters 1st Regiment PRVC, Fairfax Station, VA, June 15, 1863
Item 30: Head Quarters 1st Regt. Infant. PRVC, Camp near Auburn, VA, Tues., Oct. 27, 1863
Item 31: Head Quarters 1st Regt. Infantry PRC near Warrenton Junction, VA, Nov. 4/5, 1863
Item 32: Head Quarters 1st Regiment PRC near Mountain Run, VA, November 19, 1863
Item 33: Manassas Junction, VA, December 7, 1863
Folder 6: Alfred Rupert, 1864-1865
Item 34: Bristoe Station, VA, March 25, 1864
Item 35: Head Quarters, 2nd Brig. 3rd Provisional Division, Stevenson, VA, April 19, 1865
Item 36: Head Quarters, 2nd Brig. 3rd Provisional Div., Summit Point, VA, May 8/9, 1865
Item 37: (First page missing)
Folder 7: Other correspondents
Item 38: Head Quarters, Department of the Susquehanna, Harrisburg, July 8, 1863
Item 39: Washington, September 2, 1862
Item 40: West Chester, PA, April 12, 1865
Item 41: West Chester, PA, August 18, 1863
Item 42: Head Quarters, 124th Regt., PA Vols., Fairfax County, VA, Sunday August 23, 1862
Item 43: Camp Stafford C.H., Stafford County, VA, March 8, 1863
Series 2: Personal Papers, 1861-1909
Folder 8: Military service records, 1861 – 1865
Folder 9: Financial documents, 1867 – 1883
Folder 10: Military and financial records, 1885 – 1909
Folder 11: Comical biography, written by friend(s) under pseudonym, Dec. 12, 1879
Series 2: Circulars, 1865
Folder 12: Circulars, Brevet Major Gen. Thomas Wilberforce Egan, March 23 – 26, 1865
Folder 13: Circulars, Brevet Major Gen. Thomas Wilberforce Egan, March 27 – 31, 1865
Folder 14: Circulars, Brevet Major Gen. Thomas Wilberforce Egan, April 1 – 29, 186