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Encyclopedia > Edmund Ruffin
Edmund Ruffin
Edmund Ruffin

Edmund Ruffin (January 5, 1794June 18, 1865) was born in Prince George County, Virginia. He was a descendant of William Randolph, the progenitor of the Randolph family. Ruffin was a farmer and slaveholder, a Confederate soldier, and an 1850s political activist. He advocated states' rights, secession, and slavery and was described by opponents as one of the fire-eaters. Ruffin was an ardent supporter of the Confederacy and an enemy of the North for its intrusion and invasion of his beloved Virginia. Image File history File links Download high resolution version (798x1296, 283 KB)Edmund Ruffin source File history Legend: (cur) = this is the current file, (del) = delete this old version, (rev) = revert to this old version. ... Image File history File links Download high resolution version (798x1296, 283 KB)Edmund Ruffin source File history Legend: (cur) = this is the current file, (del) = delete this old version, (rev) = revert to this old version. ... January 5 is the 5th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. ... 1794 was a common year starting on Wednesday (see link for calendar). ... is the 169th day of the year (170th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... 1865 (MDCCCLXV) is a common year starting on Sunday. ... Prince George County is a county located in the state of Virginia. ... This article contains a trivia section. ... William Randolph (1650 - April 11, 1711) was a founding father, colonist and land owner who played an important role in Virginian history and politics. ... The Randolph family was an important Virginia political family, whose members contributed to the politics of Colonial Virginia and Virginia after it gained its statehood. ... For other uses, see Farmer (disambiguation). ... This article is in need of attention. ... States rights refers to the idea, in U.S. politics and constitutional law, that U.S. states possess certain rights and political powers in relation to the federal government. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... Slave redirects here. ... By radically urging secessionism in the US South, the Fire-Eaters demonstrated the high level of sectionalism existing in the US during the 1850s, and materially contributed to the outbreak of the Civil War (1861-1865). ... Motto Deo Vindice (Latin: Under God, Our Vindicator) Anthem (none official) God Save the South (unofficial) The Bonnie Blue Flag (unofficial) Dixie (unofficial) Capital Montgomery, Alabama (until May 29, 1861) Richmond, Virginia (May 29, 1861–April 2, 1865) Danville, Virginia (from April 3, 1865) Language(s) English (de facto) Religion...


Early Agronomist

In addition to his notoriety as a Civil War fire-eater, Ruffin was also a farmer and agronomist. For a time he was editor of the "Farmers Register" and investigated at some length the possibilities of using lime to raise pH in peat soils to improve agricultural productivity. During these pre-Civil War years he was interested in the origin of bogs and published several detailed descriptions of the Dismal and Blackwater Swamps. Agricultural science (also called agronomy) is a broad multidisciplinary field that encompasses the parts of exact, natural, economic, and social sciences that are used in the practice and understanding of agriculture. ... This article or section does not adequately cite its references or sources. ... Peat in Lewis, Scotland Peat is an accumulation of partially decayed vegetation matter. ... Virgin boreal acid bogs at Browns Lake Bog, Ohio A bog is a wetland type that accumulates peat, a deposit of dead plant material. ... The Great Dismal Swamp is located in southeastern Virginia and northeastern North Carolina in the United States on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean. ... The Blackwater River of southeastern Virginia flows from its source near the city of Petersburg, Virginia for about 105 miles (170 km) through the Inner Coastal Plain region of Virginia (part of the Atlantic Coastal Plain). ...

Civil War Role

As the sectional hostilities which led to the American Civil War grew in the 1850s, Ruffin left Virginia for South Carolina as he was angry that Virginia had not been the first state to secede from the Union. According to historical evidence and historians who are experts on the Civil War, Ruffin was given the privilege of firing the first shot against Fort Sumter on April 12, 1861 at the outset of the Civil War. Combatants United States of America (Union) Confederate States of America (Confederacy) Commanders Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee Strength 2,200,000 1,064,000 Casualties 110,000 killed in action, 360,000 total dead, 275,200 wounded 93,000 killed in action, 258,000 total... Official language(s) English Capital Charleston(1670-1789) Columbia(1790-present) Largest city Columbia Largest metro area Columbia Area  Ranked 40th  - Total 34,726 sq mi (82,965 km²)  - Width 200 miles (320 km)  - Length 260 miles (420 km)  - % water 6  - Latitude 32°430N to 35°12N... Fort Sumter, located in Charleston, South Carolina, was named after General Thomas Sumter. ... is the 102nd day of the year (103rd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... 1861 (MDCCCLXI) was a common year starting on Tuesday (link with display the full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar (or a common year starting on Thursday of the Julian calendar) // January 1 - Benito Juárez captures Mexico City January 2 - Friedrich Wilhelm IV of Prussia dies and is succeeded by...

After the surrender of Robert E. Lee at Appomattox Court House, this fiery Southerner penned these famous last words in his diary: // This article is about the Confederate general. ... McLean house, April 1865. ...

I here declare my unmitigated hatred to Yankee rule -- to all political, social and business connection with the Yankees and to the Yankee race. Would that I could impress these sentiments, in their full force, on every living Southerner and bequeath them to every one yet to be born! May such sentiments be held universally in the outraged and down-trodden South, though in silence and stillness, until the now far-distant day shall arrive for just retribution for Yankee usurpation, oppression and atrocious outrages, and for deliverance and vengeance for the now ruined, subjugated and enslaved Southern States!
...And now with my latest writing and utterance, and with what will be near my latest breath, I here repeat and would willingly proclaim my unmitigated hatred to yankee rule--to all political, social and business connections with Yankees, and the perfidious, malignant and vile Yankee race.

Ruffin could not get over the loss of his native South in the Civil War, nor could he bear the thought of living in a South ruled by an invader and took his own life, via gunshot to the head, soon after Lee's surrender to Grant. Rather than surrender to US soldiers, the Mayor (Bürgermeister) of Leipzig Germany, committed suicide along with his wife and daughter on April 20, 1945. ... A gunshot is the discharge of a firearm, and the sound effect thereof; the term can also refer to a wound caused by such a discharge. ... “Human Head” redirects here. ... Ulysses S. Grant[2] (born Hiram Ulysses Grant, April 27, 1822 – July 23, 1885) was an American general and the 18th President of the United States (1869–1877). ...

Note, this view is debated by his descendants. According to (citation missing, Biography of Edmund Ruffin.. Betty L Mitchell, 1981), Ruffin was concerned with his uselessness both to his native state and to his family, and committed suicide to avoid being a burden to either.


Ruffin would later be known for his contributions to agriculture and not so much for firing the first shot of the Civil War, (though history has judged him more for the latter). Specifically, he aided the southern economy by proposing new and ingenious ways to rotate and fertilize tobacco crops such that fields could be used over and over to grow the valuable crop. The title page to The Historians History of the World. ... Satellite image of circular crop fields in Haskell County, Kansas in late June 2001. ... Shredded tobacco leaf for pipe smoking Tobacco can also be pressed into plugs and sliced into flakes Tobacco is an agricultural product processed from the fresh leaves of plants in genus Nicotiana. ...

Because he was attributed with firing the first shot of the Battle of Fort Sumter, Ruffin is sometimes credited as "firing the first shot of the Civil War." Combatants United States of America Confederate States of America Commanders Robert Anderson P.G.T. Beauregard Strength 85 soldiers 500 soldiers Casualties 1 dead 5 injured 4 injured The Battle of Fort Sumter (April 12 – April 13, 1861), was a relatively minor military engagement at Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor...


  • Slavery and free labor, described and compared / by Edmund Ruffin. Accessed December 8, 2006.
  • Ruffin, Edmund (1852). An essay on calcareous manures. Richmond, Va.: J.W. Randolph. 
  • Ruffin, Edmund [1856-1865] (1989). The diary of Edmund Ruffin. Edited, with an introd. and notes, by William Kauffman Scarborough. With a foreword by Avery Craven. (3 v.), Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press. ISBN 0807109487. 
  • Ruffin, Edmund (1857?). The political economy of slavery, or, The institution considered in regard to its influence on public wealth and the general welfare. Washington: L. Towers. Retrieved on 2006-12-14. 

Year 2006 (MMVI) was a common year starting on Sunday (link displays full 2006 calendar) of the Gregorian calendar. ... is the 348th day of the year (349th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ...

External links

  • Find a grave
  • Brugger, Robert J. (Summer, 1991). "Redmoor Farewell: the Life and Death of Edmund Ruffin". Virginia Quarterly Review 67 (3). Retrieved on 2006-12-13. 

Year 2006 (MMVI) was a common year starting on Sunday (link displays full 2006 calendar) of the Gregorian calendar. ... December 13 is the 347th day of the year (348th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ...

Further reading

  • Allmendinger, David F. (1990). Ruffin : family and reform in the Old South. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0195044150. 
  • Craven, Avery [1932] (1982). Edmund Ruffin, southerner : a study in secession, Reprint. Originally published: New York : D. Appleton, 1932., Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press. ISBN 0807101044. 
  • Mathew, William M. (1988). Edmund Ruffin and the crisis of slavery in the Old South : the failure of agricultural reform. Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press. ISBN 0820310115. 

  Results from FactBites:
Harvard University Press/An Essay on Calcareous Manures (403 words)
Edmund Ruffin, born in 1794, was a planter in Prince George County, Virginia, from 1813 until 1843, when he moved to Hanover County, where he remained until 1861.
Ruffin found that uncultivated land in his part of Virginia lacked calcium carbonate, and that most of this same poor soil contained vegetable acid, the cause of its sterility.
When Ruffin first had his slaves dig up marl from one of the beds of fossilized shells that underlie much of coastal Virginia, and directed them to apply it to a test patch of his land, which was then planted with corn, he increased his yield by 40 per cent.
  More results at FactBites »



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