He Preserved the Memory of the Naval War

rush-montageMy latest “Faces of War” column for the Civil War News is now available. An excerpt of the story of Richard Rush, U.S. navy:

The call to action that landed him in the spotlight came long after the rebellion had been put down. In May 1893, now Lt. Cmdr. Rush succeeded a fellow officer as Superintendent of Naval War Records. He inherited a mammoth task—the organization and publication of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies. Authorized by Congress in 1884, a small force of clerks and copyists set about the work. They were overwhelmed by the volume of material and challenges associated in locating copies of Confederate records destroyed when Richmond burned in 1865. Reinforcements were ordered in to help collect, classify and arrange documents and data from public and private sources.

Read the rest of Rush’s story.

Influential Man Behind the Official Navy Civil War Records

Born and raised in Philadelphia, Richard Rush (1848-1912) was the grandson of diplomat Richard Rush (1780-1859), and great-grandson of Benjamin Rush (1746-1813), a signer of the Declaration of Independence.

Rush entered the U.S. Naval Academy in its temporary location at Newport, R.I., in 1863, and spent the Civil War on the Academy’s sloop-of-war Marion, which was used as a training ship. He graduated in 1867, and was promoted through the ranks until in 1891, when he was made Lieutenant Commander. In 1893, he was appointed superintendent of naval war records, and in this capacity oversaw the early publication efforts of The Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies, a thirty volume set grouped in two series. According to the preface, “the long-delayed publication was finally authorized by act of Congress approved July 31, 1894, and begun by Mr. Rush. The first five volumes were published under his efficient administration, and the important duty of organizing the office for the distribution of these volumes was accomplished.”

Rush was ordered to sea in March 1897, thus ending his association with the project.

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Influential Man Behind the Official Navy Civil War Records