Rosecrans, William S. (William Starke), 1819-1898Variant names
General during the Civil War; congressman from California (1881-1885); U.S. Register of the Treasury (1885-1893).
From the description of Papers, 1864-1895. (University of Notre Dame). WorldCat record id: 24039377
William Starke Rosecrans was an inventor, coal-oil company executive, diplomat, politician, and United States Army officer during the Civil War. He was the victor at prominent Western Theater battles such as Second Corinth, Stones River, and the Tullahoma Campaign, but his military career was effectively ended following his disastrous defeat at the Battle of Chickamauga in 1863.
From the description of W.S. Rosecrans selected correspondence, 1849-1873. (Louisiana State University). WorldCat record id: 316875384
William Starke Rosecrans was born in Kingston, OH, in 1819; graduated from West Point, 1842; resigned from US army, 1854; organized Preston Coal Oil Co., Cincinnati, OH, 1857; commissioned Brigadier General in 1861 after outbreak of Civil War; commanded the Army of the Cumberland during the Tullahoma campaign and at the battles of Stone's river and Chickamauga; resigned from US Army, 1867; moved to Los Angeles, CA and became advocate for railroad building and Mexican trade in the West; appointed US Minister to Mexico, 1868; during 1870s developed mines in Nevada, the Southwest, and Sonora, Mexico; Democrat, US Congress, 1881-85; Register of the US Treasury, 1885-93; retired to ranch near Los Angeles in 1893 and died on Mar. 11, 1898; interment at Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, VA.
From the description of Papers, 1869-1885 [microform]. (Rutherford B Hayes Presidential Center). WorldCat record id: 69527929
From the description of Papers, 1810-1920. (University of California, Los Angeles). WorldCat record id: 38000052
Rosecrans graduated from West Point and was a major general in the Union Army during the Civil War. After the war he was a rancher in California and served in the U. S. Congress.
From the description of Letter, March 18, 1870. (Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library). WorldCat record id: 434846248
Army officer and diplomat.
From the description of Letters of William S. Rosecrans, 1862-1865. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 71015403
From the description of Autograph letter signed : Murfreesboro, to Col. R.C. Woods, 1863 Feb. 27. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270657626
It is a privilege to respond to the invitation of the University Librarian, Lawrence Clark Powell, to write a brief foreword for the Guide to the Papers of General William Starke Rosecrans.
Manuscripts constitute the basic source for the writing of history, and historians rejoice whenever a great collection of manuscripts finds its way into a public repository. They rejoice even more when librarians and archivists take steps to facilitate the use of these manuscripts. Dr. Powell and Wilbur J. Smith, the Head of the fast-growing Department of Special Collections, have both recognized the need for systematic cataloguing of manuscripts and have taken the initiative in providing printed guides to the manuscript holdings of the University Library. The Guide to the Rosecrans Papers is additional evidence of their concern, and for it many a scholar will give thanks. The Guide has been prepared by James V. Mink, Assistant Head of the Department of Special Collections, and it reflects the scholarly attention he has given it. The Rosecrans Foundation has generously provided funds for the publication of the Guide.
No collection of a man's papers is ever complete, in the sense that it includes all of his correspondence or even all that has survived. The Rosecrans Papers are no exception. General Rosecrans' official correspondence as an officer of the United States Army, as Minister to Mexico, and as Register of the Treasury Department is preserved in the National Archives. His part of an extensive correspondence with Pope Pius IX is in the Library of the Vatican and his letters to many of his American friends are scattered in numerous archives across the country. Unfortunately a valuable portion of his private papers, placed in storage by him when he left Washington in 1893, was removed following his death and destroyed. The burned papers presumably included the letters from Pope Pius IX and an extensive correspondence with the French Emperor, Louis Napoleon, which was commenced during Rosecrans' diplomatic mission to Mexico. But such lacunae are characteristic of all collections.
The papers of General Rosecrans given to the University by William Starke Rosecrans II and Carmelita Rosecrans Ewing — the General's grandson and granddaughter — comprise some twenty-five to thirty thousand pieces and constitute the largest and most significant collection of papers of an individual in the University's holdings. They are a rich source for students of the American Civil War, mining and railroad activities in Mexico and Western United States, and California land problems, and, of course, for biographers of General Rosecrans or of any of his many distinguished correspondents — Presidents, generals, politicians, and business leaders.
The University is deeply indebted to Mrs. Ewing and Mr. Rosecrans for their generous gift. It is also indebted to Professor Mail Ewing and Professor Ada Nisbet of the Department of English and to Lindley Bynum special assistant to President Robert Gordon Sproul and long-time associate of Mr. Rosecrans in the California Wine Tasters, all of whom warmly encouraged Mrs. Ewing and Mr. Rosecrans to select UCLA as the appropriate institution to receive the papers.
Brainerd Dyer Professor of History
William Starke Rosecrans was born in Kingston, Ohio, in 1819; graduated from West Point, 1842; resigned from U.S. army, 1854; organized Preston Coal Oil Company, Cincinnati, Ohio, 1857; commissioned Brigadier General in 1861 after outbreak of Civil War; commanded the Army of the Cumberland during the Tullahoma campaign and at the battles of Stone's river and Chickamauga; resigned from U.S. Army, 1867; moved to Los Angeles, California and became advocate for railroad building and Mexican trade in the West; appointed U.S. Minister to Mexico, 1868; during 1870s developed mines in Nevada, the Southwest, and Sonora, Mexico; Democrat, U.S. Congress, 1881-85; Register of the U.S. Treasury, 1885-93; retired to ranch near Los Angeles in 1893 and died on March 11, 1898; interment at Arlington National Cemetary, Arlington, Virginia.
The Papers of General Rosecrans and his Family
The Rosecrans Papers span nearly a century of America's past and comprise correspondence and papers of three generations of the family. There are sources in the papers for biographies of General Rosecrans; of his son, Adrian Louis, who was a member of the pioneer congregation of American Catholic missionaries, the Paulist Fathers; and of his brother, Sylvester H. Rosecrans, who rose in the Catholic hierarchy to become Bishop of Columbus, Ohio.
The papers begin with Rosecrans' years at the United States Military Academy and his life in the Army following graduation. These early papers, though less complete than those covering the later years of his life, are important for a number of reasons. They will be of interest to military historians who are concerned with the state of the Army in the decades immediately preceding the Civil War. They are also important for the interpretation of circumstances surrounding Rosecrans' conversion to Catholicism, which had such a profound effect on his later life and on the lives of his immediate family.
During his last year at West Point, Rosecrans came under the influence of the Transcendentalist movement which inspired so many men of letters from 1820 to 1860. Religion was discussed frequently by the cadets, and Rosecrans had read and studied much on the subject. Just as he had about decided to become an Episcopalian he happened to discover a copy of John Milner's The End of Religious Controversy . In June 1842, he formally embraced the Catholic faith.
In the following year he was married to the daughter of Adrian Hegeman, a New York jurist. Soon after their marriage she was converted and became an ardent champion of her faith. Rosecrans' younger brother, Sylvester, entered the Church in 1845 and was ordained in 1852 after study in the United States and in Rome. In 1868 he was appointed Bishop of the newly created See of Columbus, Ohio, where he gained respect for his encouragement of education and rigorous religious principles. Rosecrans' eldest son was ordained in the congregation of Paulist Fathers; two daughters, Mary Louise and Ann, entered the Ursuline order.
An immediate effect of Rosecrans' conversion was his correspondence with fellow Army officers of his faith and the formation of an officer society devoted to the Sacred Heart of Jesus which sought, among other things, the conversion of Protestant officers. This correspondence provides interesting material for study of the growth of the Catholic faith in the Army during the period when sentiment against Catholicism was crystallizing in such movements as Know-Nothingism and the Order of the Star-Spangled Banner. The correspondence of Rosecrans and his family, particularly the Religious members, will be useful to those interested in the Catholic movement in the United States from 1840 to 1880.
The papers covering the first stage of Rosecrans' army career end in 1854, when prolonged illness forced him to resign from the service. They record ten years' service with the Corps of Engineers and a wide correspondence with officers whose names appear later in the campaigns and battles of the Civil War. There are references to the military fortifications at Hampton Roads, Virginia, and Fort Adams, Rhode Island, to surveys on the Taunton River and at New Bedford, Providence, and Newport, and to various other projects which give insight into the organization and activities of the Corps during the ante-bellum years. The restlessness and discontent of many of the Corps's officers is apparent in the letters and papers concerning the demand for organizational reform and the adoption of a more equitable promotion plan.
The years following Rosecrans' resignation from the Army were occupied with a number of business ventures designed to provide for the security of his growing family. When his health was sufficiently restored, he established an architectural and engineering office in Cincinnati. An opportunity to engage in coal mining then took him to West Virginia, where he had charge of the Cannel Coal Company and the Coal River Navigation Company. In 1857 he organized the Preston Coal Oil Company in Cincinnati and was a successful pioneer in the refining of petroleum. It is unfortunate that only a few records of these enterprises remain in his papers.
The Civil War interrupted the coal-oil business which was beginning to provide the family security Rosecrans desired. He rented his factory in Cincinnati and volunteered as aide to General George B. McClellan. While acting only as a citizen, he assisted in organizing and equipping home guards in Cincinnati. Governor Dennison sent him the commission of Colonel and Chief Engineer of Ohio troops, but Rosecrans accepted instead a commission as colonel of the 23rd Ohio Volunteers because he believed his military training would aid in diminishing the loss of life in the field. Almost immediately after he arrived in Columbus to organize and train his regiment, he was commissioned Brigadier General in the Regular Army.
Rosecrans' wartime correspondence and papers form a reasonably complete record of his campaigns in West Virginia, Mississippi, Eastern Tennessee, and Missouri. Monographs on the military history of the War have evaluated his capabilities as a strategist, compared him with other military leaders, and assessed his contributions to the success of the Union cause. It is unlikely that his papers suffice for a drastic revision of these estimates; however, they may suggest the need for further investigation into the reasons for his removal from command in Tennessee and Missouri, his conduct at the Battle of Chickamauga, and his relations with General Grant, President Lincoln, and the War Department.
In May, 1865, Rosecrans wrote to President Johnson requesting a special assignment to the Pacific Coast to “examine and report on its mining resources and their commercial and political relations to the interests of the neighboring states.” He did not receive the assignment, but was granted a leave of absence for the same purpose. Family letters describe his voyage to San Francisco in company with his son, Adrian Louis, and their excursions to Los Angeles, San Diego, and Nevada. They tell of mining, railroad, and agricultural conditions in California and elsewhere in the West. Letters received by Rosecrans during this period are concerned with the purchase of Los Angeles lands (which led later to extensive litigation in the Sausal Redondo case) and with the promotion of the California Southern Coast and the San Diego & Gila Southern Pacific & Atlantic Railroads.
In 1868 President Johnson appointed Rosecrans Minister to Mexico, but he was succeeded in the following year by the career diplomat Thomas H. Nelson, an appointee of the Grant administration. The correspondence and papers of his brief mission in Mexico are sparse; an evaluation of its accomplishments will require use of the official records in the National Archives and in Mexico City.
Prior to his Mexican mission, interest in the economic conditions there had suggested to Rosecrans some opportunities for enterprises in railway construction, mining, and shipping. In a memorial to Congress in 1870 he proposed that the United States promote trade with Mexico and utilize American capital for improvement of its railways and telegraph lines. Rosecrans' Mexican railway projects and various mining and colonization schemes are thoroughly documented in his papers. Corroborating material for this period in his career exists in the U. S. National Archives, in Mexico City, and in the papers of those with whom he associated in these enterprises.
In the late 1870's Rosecrans' attention again focused on mining in the West. He operated the San José Mine at Egan Canyon, Nevada, and contracted for the purchase of various mines in the Southwest and in Sonora. His interest in mining engineering led to investigation of business opportunities in mining machinery and safety equipment, and finally to the establishment of a powder business in San Francisco for the manufacture of mine blasting caps. The papers relating to the San José Mine and the Safety Powder Company are reasonably complete records of these operations, while correspondence of this period documents Rosecrans' general interest in mining.
One further aspect of Rosecrans' career remains to be noted: his participation in local and national politics. He was a member of the Democratic Party and devoted to its political principles. In 1864 he was asked to accept nomination as a candidate for President on the Democratic ticket, but he refused. He also declined nominations by his party for Governor of California in 1868, for Governor of Ohio in 1870, and for Representative to Congress from Nevada in 1876. However, he did accept a nomination for Representative from the San Francisco district of California in 1880, was elected, and served until 1885. That year President Cleveland appointed him Register of the Treasury and he remained in that office until his retirement in 1893.
Rosecrans' political papers cover the period from 1868 to 1893. Professor Dyer has noted the destruction of the papers covering his years in the Treasury Department. Very likely his Congressional papers were destroyed at the same time, for there is little correspondence after 1881, and papers concerning his political activities in Washington between 1881 and 1893 are almost nonexistent. Material concerning his earlier political activities, from 1864 to 1880, will be found mainly in his correspondence. The correspondence and papers concerning his campaign for Congress in 1880 appear to be intact, insofar as he preserved them, and provide material for investigation of local and national issues of the period.
James V. Mink Acting Archivist
From the guide to the William S. Rosecrans Papers, 1810-1920, (University of California, Los Angeles. Library. Department of Special Collections.)
|Place Name||Admin Code||Country|
|Confederate States of America|
|Generals--United States--Archival resources|
|Politicians--United States--Archival resources|
|Generals--Confederate States of America|