Bridge Burner


During the early months of the Civil War Dr. 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 a bridge of Virginia Central Railroad which was important to the Confederates war effort.

Shortly thereafter he was captured in Summersville, West Virginia by Confederate cavalry led by the audacious spy Nancy Hart. During his 15 months of imprisonment Rucker became the focus of the most acrimonious prisoner exchange problem between the Union and the Confederacy. There are sixty-four entries in the Official Records of the Rebellion concerning the difficulties of his exchange – more than that of any other prisoner-of-war.

The Confederacy constantly moved him to different jails and prisons to prevent the Union Army from finding releasing him. He finally escaped and led the Union Army to burn another bridge – the important New River Bridge of the Virginia & Tennessee Railroad.

His 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.

Hard bound with dust cover, 292 pages.