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Ruschenberger, William S. W.
Three letters from the papers of Naval Surgeon and Scientist William Ruschenberger, 1831-1845

Three letters, 4 pages, as follows:

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William S. W. Ruschenberger. Autograph Letter Signed (with initials, W.S.W.R.) Philadelphia, March 5, 1831. 1pg.+address leaf. To his mother, Navy Yard, Washington, D.C. Hopes to pass his (medical) examination soon. Discusses various goods his mother had asked him to procure for her because they might be cheaper in Philadelphia than in Washington. Make several references to his mother’s friend “Mr. Israel”, with whom she regularly corresponded – possibly a descendant of the Jewish US Navy Midshipman killed while serving aboard the USS Constitution during the Barbary War,

24 year-old Ruschenberger had already completed his first Naval cruise to the Pacific, during which he acquired the life-long habit of keeping painstaking diaries, as a Surgeon's Mate, and has just graduated from the University of Pennsylvania Medical School. One month after he wrote this letter, he was commissioned a US Navy Surgeon and was soon sent on the first of several long cruises to parts of the world rarely visited by Americans. He recounted these in two now-classic books of travel: his “Narrative of a Voyage round the world : during the years 1835, 36, and 37 : including a narrative of an embassy to the Sultan of Muscat and the King of Siam” and “Three Years in the Pacific, including notices of Brazil, Chile, Boliviia, Peru”. These were particularly valuable because of his scientific expertise. During his long Naval career, he also published an entire series of basic scientific books – on Geology, Botany, Ornithology, Herpetology, Mammalogy and Anatomy.

W.[illiam] F.Patton. Autograph Letter Signed. Navy Yard, Norfolk, Va. Aug. 5, 1841. To Ruschenberger, Philadelphia. 1pg.+ address leaf. About the “prospects” of their friend Dubarry and how they could support his application.

Naval Surgeon Patton, a Virginian, served until the beginning of the Civil War, when he joined the Confederate Navy, to head its Bureau of Medicine and Surgery. Naval Surgeon Edmond L. Dubarry of Pennsylvania, a son-in-law of Andrew Jackson’s Secretary of the Treasury, later became personal physician to Napoleon’s brother Joseph, the ex-King of Naples and Spain. One of his sons, the trusted Commissary chief of Generals Grant and Halleck during the Civil War, and later became Commissary General of the US Army.

Dr. James B. Gould. Autograph Letter Signed. Boston, August 6, 1845. 2pp. To Ruschenberger, New York. 2pp. + address leaf.

About to be assigned to the USS Marion. "We have no immediate prospect of our getting to sea. The ship is not yet in readiness for the crew and we have no man as yet...Capt. Shields met with an accident while on this way to Boston and Capt. Simonds has been ordered in his place. No one ever heard of him before...I understand he has been reposing upon his laurels for some twenty years past. We know nothing further in reference to our destination but have made up our minds to pass two years on the coast of Africa...I am collecting together a few books for the purpose of beguiling the monotony of the cruise. I propose to pay some attention to Natural History. Can I find your 'Series" in Boston?...”
The Marion was indeed sent to cruise along the coast of Africa – partly to help suppress the slave trade – until 1848. (Ruschenberger had himself turned down Commodore Perry’s request to become Fleet Surgeon of the Africa Squadron, partly because he was not sympathetic to the anti-slavery movement in America and privately declared his “disdain” for Black people.