John Anthony Rucker – First Lieutenant, United States Army

John Anthony Rucker (1851-1878), First Lieutenant, 6th United States Cavalry.

Appointed from Michigan, Cadet, United States Military Academy, 1 July 1868 to 30 June 1870; Second Lieutenant, 6th United States Cavalry, 27 July 1872; drowned 11 July 1878.  He was the son of Daniel Henry Rucker, Major General, United States Army.  He is buried in the General's gravesite in Arlington National Cemetery (Section 1, Grave 74) after having first been buried in Arizona.

John Anthony Rucker, was born March 15, 1851 in Detroit, Michigan, and died July 11, 1878 in White Canon Creek, Arizona, being drowned trying to save the life of  a comrade.

Notes for Lieutenant John Anthony Rucker:

He may be called J.A. Rucker, 3rd
Military service: 1878, Lieutenant U.S. Cavalry

Lieutenant John A. Rucker, was a professional cavalry officer serving with the United States Army in Arizona Territory during the Indian campaigns of the 1870's. He was stationed at Camp Supply in 1878 when a drowning incident occurred in White River Canyon. Lieutenant Rucker, along with a fellow officer, Lieutenant Austin Henely, were caught in a sudden July thunderstorm. They waited out the storm in a saloon along with two of their military supply contractors. They were also accompanied by their Apache Indian scout, John Rope.

When the storm was over, the small party set off to return to Camp Supply. Their journey required crossing a now-raging torrent in order to reach their station. The scout and the local civilians were experienced with such crossings, and forged ahead with little trouble, each man swimming his horse across the flooded river at a good location. The officers then plunged in together, and made the mortal mistake of swimming their horses side-by-side. As the strong current knocked one horse against the other, the men fell off. The current was more than they could handle, and they drowned. Their bodies were recovered during the ensuing night by John Rope and his packers, working up to their armpits in water. The dead officers were buried at Fort Bowie, some fifty miles north of Camp Supply.

On April 29, 1879, the name of Camp Supply was changed to Camp Rucker in honor of the dead lieutenant. The name Camp Supply was then used for a station on the other side of the mountain range, and it later became known as Camp Price.

The remnants of Camp Rucker, later Fort Rucker, are located on U.S. Forest land at the present time. Officers' quarters, a bunkhouse, sheltered latrine, a commissary warehouse, and a bakery have survived the years. The site is adjacent to the south side of the Chiricahua Wilderness in the Douglas Ranger District of the Coronado National Forest; general public access is not permitted. Rucker Canyon and Rucker Lake are sites of popular Forest Service camp grounds, and a summer fire fighting crew is stationed at the old fort buildings. A friendly Forest Service employee is permitted to guide informal tours by personal arrangement.

During the 1880's, Camp Rucker became Fort Rucker. It was one of the more important military stations in the campaign against the Apache Indians led by Geronimo and Cochise, A small community grew up around the fort, as the military method of obtaining necessary supplies was through civilian contractors.



  • DATE OF DEATH: 07/11/1878


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