Pitts, a New York native born July 1836, enlisted in Company F, 30th Infantry Regiment on June 1, 1861. He enrolled for a 3 year tour of duty with that unit. However on May 24, 1863, all of the three year men of the 30th were transferred to the 76th New York and Rulandus was assigned to Company F. And as you well know, on June 1st, 1863 as a member of Cutler's Brigade, he found himself involved in the fighting at the infamous "Railroad Cut" outside of Gettysburg, PA.
Rulandus was among the first to go down when Davis' Confederates attacked them about 10:30 that morning. During the fight, he was hit in the right knee, and as he lay there he was wounded again in the right shoulder. When the union troops pulled back through Gettysburg, Pitts was left behind. He lay there all night and throughout the rest of the battle.
As a result of the delay in his treatment for his injuries, he had his right leg amputated above the knee, and in the intervening years lost the use of his right hand. In spite of all this, he remained in the army, working in the commissary until he was mustered out on July 1, 1864 on a medical discharge.
Following the war, he returned to central New York, where he worked at "odd jobs" as best he could. He married and had a daughter, before his first wife died. In the early 1880s, he remarried and moved to Parson, Kansas, where he started a second family, while living on his pension and any type of work he could get. Four children were born to this new family - sons Rulandus Jr. and Jennings, and two daughters, Mary (or Nellie, according to a reader of this website) and ZaSu (named after his new wife's maiden aunts - Eliza and Susan, hence the unusual name ZASU). (according to the same reader, Eliza and Susan were Rulandus' own sisters)
In 1902, the Pitts family moved again, here to Santa Cruz, California. He was always very active in veteran affairs, being a strong member of the GAR. He died on February 26th 1908, and was buried at the Odd Fellows Cemetery in Santa Cruz (now "Santa Cruz Memorial Park"). His daughter ZaSu was a very talented girl who left Santa Cruz for Hollywood the day she graduated from high school. She quickly made it big in the movies, becoming a huge star in serious drama and later comedy. She made over 140 movies and appeared in countless television episodes. In 1994, as part of the "Silent Stars" series of stamps, the U.S. government issued a commemorative bearing her likeness in a caricature by the famous Al Hirschfeld. A famous woman indeed.
The Internet Movie Database has a page on ZaSu Pitts.
This web page was contributed by Phil Reader, who wrote:
My name is Phil Reader, I am a genealogical and historical researcher in the central California region. I also do lecturing on local history subjects and lead tours of local cemeteries.
I recently found your website while looking for a history of the 76th New York Infantry. I was looking for information on Rulandus Pitts, a civil war vet and GAR member - who is buried at the Santa Cruz Memorial Park (formerly known as the Odd Fellows Cemetery) here in Santa Cruz, California.
I write this letter to give you the above information and I attach a photo of Rulandus Pitts for you to add to your website collection of members of the old 76th. Also I ask you any type of information on Rulandus Pitts that you might have in your files... I thank you in advance for any help you can give.
Respectfully, Phil Reader
Return to 76th Roster (P)
Return to Letters from the 76th NY
Return to 76th NYSV Homepage
- Last Updated May 22, 2000