Born on April 28, 1812 at Belleville, New Jersey. As a young man, he moved to Grosse Ile, Michigan, a village near Detroit, and it was from Michigan that he was commissioned directly into the Army as a Second Lieutenant of Dragoons on October 13, 1837.
Promoted to First Lieutenant in 1844, and to Captain in 1847, for his gallantry at Buena Vista in the Mexican War he was breveted Major. In 1849, he transferred from line to staff and was thereafter associated with the Quartermaster Department. He was promoted to Major in August 1861 and during the Civil War was breveted Major General in both the Volunteer Service and the United States Army for “diligent and faithful service,” and “faithful and meritorious service.” The procurement and distribution of wagons, horses, ambulances, mules, harnesses, forage and the thousands of other items needed for the transportation of an Army do not afford a potential for heroics; nevertheless, the Quartermaster's Department was one of the most, if not THE most, efficiently operated of the War Department Bureaus, and he seems to have ably seconded his chief, Major General Montgomery C. Meigs.
Upon the reorganization of the Army in July 1866, he was named Assistant Quartermaster General of the Army with the rank of Colonel, a post that he occupied until 1882 when Meigs, who had headed the Bureau since 1861, retired from the Army. On February 13, 1882, he was appointed Quartermaster General of the Army with the rank of Brigadier General and ten day later was himself placed on the retired list. He continued to make his residence in Washington, D.C., where he lived for another 28 years. On January 6, 1910, less than four months before his 94th birthday, he died at his home. Only one other full-rank Civil War General lived to an older age than he, and only 30 of the 583 men who won such rank survived him. George Sears Green lived to be 14 days older than Rucker.
His daughter, Irene, married Philip Henry Sheridan. Rucker was one of the officers who escorted President Lincoln's body from the Peterson House to the White House following his death in April 1865.
Rucker is buried in Section 1, Grave 74, of Arlington National Cemetery. Buried with him are:
His wife, Irene Curtis Rucker (1819-1902).
His son, Francis Dring Rucker, First Lieutenant, United States Army, who served with the 2nd U.S. Cavalry (October 9, 1860-January 19, 1893).
His daughter, Louisa Rucker, 1843-1924) a child of his first marriage to Flora Coody (Flora Coody was born 28 January 1824, and died 27 June 1845 in Indian
Territory. She was buried in U.S. National Military Cemetery, Officers' Circle, Muskogee County, Oklahoma).
His son, John Anthony Rucker, (1851-1878), First Lieutenant, 6th United States Cavalry.
His brother, Colonel William Alexander Rucker, United States Army, who was born at Grosse Isle, Michigan, 17 May 1831 who served as an Assistant Paymaster, and who died at Chicago, Illinois, January 22, 1893, is buried in Section 2 of Arlington National Cemetery.
Courtesy of the U.S. Army Quartermaster Museum:
Brigadier General Daniel H. Rucker
15th Quartermaster General
13-23 February 1882
General Rucker held the office of Quartermaster General for only ten days. His appointment as Quartermaster General was intended as an honor, a recognition of his long years of service in the Quartermaster Department.
Daniel Henry Rucker was born at Belleville, New Jersey on April 28, 1812, of German and Irish ancestry. He joined the Army at 25 and was commissioned a Second Lieutenant of the 1st Dragoons on October 13, 1837. The following April he was appointed an assistant commissary of subsistence for the regiment. During the next nine years he saw service at various frontier posts in the Old Southwest. He participated in the War with Mexico, being promoted to Captain on February 7, 1847, and breveted Major on February 23, for gallant and meritorious conduct at the battle of Buena Vista. At the close of the war he commanded a battalion of his regiment. Shortly before the war, Rucker had sought appointment in the Quartermaster's Department, but it was not until 1849 that he was transferred to it as an Assistant Quartermaster. For the next 12 years he again served in the Southwest, much of the time being stationed in New Mexico.
At the start of the Civil War, he was 49 and had been in the Army for 24 years. He declined an appointment as Major in the 6th Cavalry, preferring to remain in the Quartermaster's Department where he was promoted to Major on August 3, 1861, and placed in charge of the Washington Depot.
On September 28, 1861, he was promoted to colonel and appointed as an additional aide-de-camp to General George B. McClellan. During the war years he remained in charge of the great depot that developed at Washington, through which passed a major portion of the supplies for the armies before Richmond and the Atlantic Coast.
At the end of the war General Rucker initiated auction sale of surplus animals and equipment, selecting the best of the Quartermaster supplies for storage at various points. He oversaw the post Civil War downsizing of depot operations and personnel.
Rucker was appointed brigadier general of volunteers on May 23, 1863, and for his diligent and faithful service during the war he was breveted Lieutenant Colonel, Colonel, and Brigadier General on July 5, 1864, and Major General on March 13, 1865. While still in charge of the Washington Depot, he was promoted to Colonel in the regular Army and appointed an assistant Quartermaster General of the Department on July 28, 1866. In the decade following the war Rucker was given various assignments before becoming Chief Quartermaster of the Philadelphia Depot in the fall of 1875, a post he retained for seven years.
On February 13, 1882, General Rucker was appointed Quartermaster General. He assumed the duties of his office on February 20, and at the same time applied for retirement, a request that was granted on February 23. He was then approaching his 70th birthday and had been in the service of the Army for more than 44 years.
After his retirement, General Rucker lived in Washington where he continued to take an active interest in Army affairs. He died on January 6, 1910, in his 98th year and was buried with military honors at Arlington National Cemetery.
GENERAL D. H. RUCKER DEAD AT 98
Oldest Retired Officer of the United States Army That Ever Lived
WASHINGTON, January 6, 1910 – General Daniel H. Rucker, the oldest retired officer of the United States Army that ever lived, died at his home here today, aged 98 years. He was born in New Jersey and appointed to the Army from Michigan.
Daniel Henry Rucker was born at Belleville, New Jersey, on April 28, 1812. He was appointed a Second Lieutenant of the First United States Dragoons on October 13, 1837, and ten years later he had risen to the rank of Captain. He was appointed a Brigadier General of Volunteers at the outbreak of the Civil War and for meritorious services was breveted a Major General.
After the war, General Rucker served for several years as Quartermaster of the Army. He was retired at his own request in 1882.
Michael Robert Patterson was born in Arlington and is the son of a former officer of the US Army. So it was no wonder that sooner or later his interests drew him to American history and especially to American military history. Many of his articles can be found on renowned portals like the New York Times, Washingtonpost or Wikipedia.
Reviewed by: Michael Howard