Charles Henry Smith

Charles Henry Smith

Hollis Center, York County, Maine, USA
Death 17 Jul 1902 (aged 74)
Washington, District of Columbia, District of Columbia, USA
Burial Arlington, Arlington County, Virginia, USA
Plot Section 1, Grave 128-A
Memorial ID 5845779 · View Source
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Civil War Union Brevet Major General, Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient. One of the most feted Union soldiers to come from Maine. A pre-war school teacher, he enlisted in the 1st Maine Volunteer Cavalry after the start of the war, receiving a commission of Captain on October 1, 1861. He served with distinction in the Battles of Cedar Mountain and Second Bull Run, after which he served as a Provost Marshal until January 1863. He was then promoted twice in less than two months, becoming the unit's Major on February 16, and its Lieutenant Colonel on March 1. He took part in Brigadier General George Stoneman’s fruitless cavalry raid during the Chancellorsville Campaign, and fought in the various cavalry battles that led up to the July 1863 Battle of Gettysburg. He assumed command of the 1st Maine at the June 17, 1863 Battle of Aldie, Virginia when Colonel Calvin S. Douty was killed in the action. He led his troopers at the Battle of Gettysburg, where it was part of Brigadier General David McM. Gregg’s division, and in the Battle of Bristoe Station and Mine Run Campaign. In Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant’s 1864 Overland Campaign in Virginia, he fought under Major General Philip H. Sheridan in the cavalry actions at Todd's Tavern, Haw's Shop, Trevallian Station, and St. Mary's Church. In the June 24, 1864 fight at St. Mary's Church he was wounded in the leg by a shot that also killed his horse. Despite his injuries he remained on the field, rallying his demoralized troopers, who were inspired by his bravery. After obtaining another horse, he steadily led his men until that horse too was killed from under him. Mounting a third horse, he then led the men of the 1st Maine in a stout defense of their position, and in an orderly withdrawal. Colonel Smith was the last man from the regiment to leave the field of battle, and his bravery that day would result in glowing praise from General Gregg, and a Medal of Honor 31 years later. Recovering from his wounded, he fought at the Battle of Reams Station, where he was again wounded. In October 1864 he ascended to brigade command, and fought in the Battles of Boydton Plank Road, Dinwiddie Court House and in the final Appomattox Campaign. He had been brevetted Brigadier General, US Volunteers on August 1, 1864 for "distinguished conduct in the engagement at St. Mary's Church, near Charles City Court House, Va.". On March 13, 1865 he received the brevet of Major General, US Volunteers for "highly distinguished and meritorious services". After the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia in April 1865, he commanded the district around Appomattox Court House until July 1865. Mustered out of the Volunteer Army in August 1865, a year later he was offered a commission in the Regular Army after the end of the conflict, which was a rare honor for a volunteer officer. He was commissioned Colonel and commander of the 28th United States Regular Infantry in the 1866 army reorganization, and became the commander of the 19th Regular Infantry in another army reorganization in 1869. His stellar Civil War service continued to garner him honors after the end of the fighting, for on March 2, 1867 he received the brevet of Brigadier General, US Regular Army for "gallant and meritorious services at the battle of Sailor's Creek, Va.", and Major General, US Regular Army for "gallant and meritorious services during the war". He retired at his Colonel's rank in 1891, and passed away in Washington, DC eleven years later. The citation for his Medal of Honor (awarded on April 11, 1895) states simply "Remained in the fight to the close, although severely wounded." He was one of three 1st Maine Cavalry soldiers to be awarded the Medal of Honor for their bravery during the war (the others being Major Sidney Thaxter and Sergeant Major Edward P. Tobie). Today a monument stands for his regiment he commanded during the Gettysburg Campaign on Hanover Road in the East Cavalry Field in the Gettysburg National Military Park.

Bio by: RPD2

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  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Added: 14 Oct 2001
  • Find a Grave Memorial 5845779
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Charles Henry Smith (1 Nov 1827–17 Jul 1902), Find a Grave Memorial no. 5845779, citing Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Arlington County, Virginia, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .