The Fort Wilkins/Abraham Lincoln Connection

Entrance to Fort Wilkins

Entrance to Fort Wilkins

B. Nash with cannon at Fort Wilkins parade ground

B. Nash with cannon at Fort Wilkins parade ground

I had the opportunity to visit historic Fort Wilkins located in the Copper Harbor area of Northern Michigan along the shoreline of Lake Superior. It’s a wonderfully beautiful place. I would recommend it to anyone visiting the Northern Michigan area with an interest in the Civil War. It contains twenty-one buildings on the grounds-twelve of them dating back to the 1840’s. One really gets a sense of what it must have been like for those soldiers stationed there. In a word-it had to have been LONELY. Well, that just me thinking out loud. I’m sure the troops found thing to do!
Of particular interest to me, of course, was the fact that the fort was a military post during Lincoln’s Presidency. It had been built in 1844. For a time it was abandoned, but later was reactiviated for the war. Most people would find satisfaction from just knowing that the fort was part of Civil War history. But there is a more interesting connection between the fort and Abraham Lincoln. Funny, I didn’t see it posted anyway within the fort. I think many people would visit the fort for what I’m about to share here.
The Fort Wilkins/Abraham Lincoln Connection:
  
Mortimer Bainbridge Ruggles was born at Fort Wilkins December 1, 1844.
  
“Who was that?” you ask.
 
Ruggles was the son of Daniel Ruggles- a First Lieutenant when he arrived at Fort Wilkins in 1844. The elder Ruggles would rise to the rank of Major General (Confederate) during the Civil War. Mortimer Ruggles was also an officer (Confederate) in the Civil War. He was a Lieutenant in the 43rd Virginia Infantry Regiment and saw action in several battles, including Shiloh. In 1865, with the war pretty much over, Mortimer Ruggles found himself assisting none other than JOHN WILKES BOOTH escaping across the Rappahannock River after the Lincoln assassination. Ruggles was among other Confederate comrades who heard Booth boldly proclaim that he had killed Abraham Lincoln. For his part in assisting Booth, Ruggles was arrested, imprisoned, and eventually released.
  
From a birth in far-off Fort Wilkins to a place in the “Lincoln assassination story”- now you know the “Fort Wilkins/Lincoln connection” -it’s one Mortimer Ruggles.
I bet you won’t forget his name!
  
 Mail this post

Technorati Tags: , , ,

Tags: , , ,

Leave a Reply