Monday, April 8, 2013

Charles W. Field, born April 6, 1828

Charles William Field was born at the family plantation, "Airy Mount," in  Woodford County, Kentucky. His parents had immigrated from Virginia, and his father was a  friend of Henry Clay. Through  the influence of Clay and Andrew Jackson, President James K. Polk appointed Charles as an "at large" cadet to the United States Military Academy. Charles Field graduated 27th of 43 cadets in the Class of 1849 and accepted a commission as a brevet second lieutenant in the 2nd U.S. Dragoons. 

He was 33 years old when the Civil War began.

He was assigned to frontier duty duty for five years at various posts in New Mexico, Texas, and the Great Plains. In 1855, he was promoted to first lieutenant and assigned to the newly organized 2nd U.S. Cavalry, a regiment under Colonel Albert Sidney Johnston that also included Robert E. Lee and other future Civil War generals. In 1856, Field returned to West Point as Assistant Instructor of Cavalry Tactics. He was promoted to captain in January 1861.

With the outbreak of the Civil War, Field resigned his commission on May 30, 1861, and left West Point for Richmond, where he offered his services to the Confederacy

His first assignment was to organize a school for cavalry instruction in Virginia. In July, he became major of the 6th Virginia Cavalry, becoming its colonel in November. In March 1862, he was promoted to brigadier general of a brigade of Virginia infantryHe served in what became famed as A.P. Hill's "Light Division" of the Army of Northern Virginia during Stonewall Jackson's Valley Campaign in the spring of 1862. 
A.P. Hill

Field performed competently during the Peninsula Campaign, but was severely wounded in the leg at the Second Battle of Bull Run in August. At first, it was feared that the mangled leg would require amputation, but doctors managed to save it. However, it took nearly a year for Field to recuperate, although he never fully recovered. In May 1863, using crutches to move, Field was able to resume limited military duties, serving as Chief of the Bureau of Conscription in the War Department. 

Finally cleared for field duty, Field rejoined the army in Tennessee in February 1864.  Promoted to major general, he commanded the veteran division formerly led by John Hood. . In the confused fighting in the Wilderness, Field suffered two minor wounds, but stayed in action throughout the Overland Campaign, including the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House. 

Field's division continued to perform well during the fighting at the Battle of Cold Harbor and the Siege of Petersburg

In April 1865, he surrendered with his division at Appomattox Court House.

MacLean House at Appomattox Court House
After the war, Field pursued business interests in Maryland and Georgia.  He traveled abroad in 1875 and served Ismai'il Pasha, the khedive of Egypt, as a colonel of engineers, helping train native officers and supervising several construction projects. 

Returning to the United States in 1877, he was elected to the position of doorkeeper of  the U.S. House of Representatives. 

He worked as a civil engineer from from 1881 through 1888 and then served for a time as superintendent of Hot Springs Reservation (later renamed Hot Springs National Park). 

Hot Springs, Arkansas
He died in Washington, D.C. on April 9, 1892, just 3 days after his 64th birthday.

 He  was buried in Loudon Park Cemetery in Baltimore, Maryland.

Grave of Charles W. Field

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