Charles Henry Tompkins
[[Image:200px|center|200px|border]]Charles Henry Tompkins
Personal Information
Born: September 12, 1830(1830-09-12)
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Died: January 18, 1915 (aged 84)
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Other Information
Allegiance: United States of America
Union
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Branch: United States Army
Union Army
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Rank: Brevet Brigadier General
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Battles: American Civil War
Awards: Medal of Honor
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Charles Henry Tompkins (September 12, 1830 – January 18, 1915) was a Union Brevet Brigadier General during the American Civil War. He was a recipient of the Medal of Honor for valor in action on July 1, 1861 near Fairfax, Virginia, making him the first Union officer of the Civil War to receive the Medal of Honor.[1][2]

Early life and career[edit | edit source]

Tompkins was born in Fort Monroe, Virginia. He received an appointment to West Point from Brooklyn, New York as a member of the class of 1851, though he did not graduate with his class. He resigned in 1849 for unspecified reasons.[3][4] Tompkins pursued private business interests until enlisting as a Private in the First Dragoons in 1856, rising to the rank of sergeant before his enlistment ended in 1860. He served on the western frontier and was recognized for his performance in action near Pyramid Lake, Nevada in June 1860.[3]

Tompkins received his commission as a 2nd Lieutenant in New York's 2nd Cavalry in March 1861. It was in this unit that he gained fame for his heroism in action at Fairfax, Virginia while a 1st Lieutenant. He would later rise to the rank of Brevet Brigadier General by the war's end. He was the commander of the 4th Maine Artillery during the Peninsula Campaign. Tompkins served in several commands under Major General John Sedgwick, including command of the artillery of Sedgwick's division of II Corps during the Battle of Seven Pines,[5] and the artillery brigade of Sedgwick's VI Cops at Gettysburg.[6] Tompkins was personally present at Sedgwick's death at the battle of Battle of Spotsylvania Court House.[7]

Medal of Honor citation[edit | edit source]

"Twice charged through the enemy's lines and, taking a carbine from an enlisted man, shot the enemy's captain."

Postbellum[edit | edit source]

Tompkins was appointed as one of the nine officers assigned to the military commission investigating the conspirators involved in President Lincoln's assassination. Because of a dispute with General Grant, between 1866 and 1881 he was posted to numerous remote and austere western posts.[3] He served the remainder of his career in the Quartermaster Corps, rising to the rank of Quarter-master General which carried a rank of Colonel in the Regular Army. He finished his career serving on the east coast, voluntarily retiring in 1894.[3] Tompkins suffered a broken leg in September 1914 and the wound never healed properly.[3] He died of sepsis in Washington, D.C. on January 18, 1915. He is buried at Oak Hill Cemetery in Washington, DC.[1][8]

Personal life[edit | edit source]

Tompkins married Ms. Augusta Root Hobbie of New York on December 17, 1862 . They had a total of seven children, with four of them reaching adulthood. His eldest son, Selah Reeve Hobbie (“Tommy”) Tompkins, was an Army officer who became Colonel of the 7th Cavalry Regiment. His second son, Frank, also served as a career army officer.[3]

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the United States Army Center of Military History.

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