Colonel Charles Anderson Wickliffe

1822-1862



Charles A. Wickliffe was born in Bardstown, Nelson county, Kentucky, in 1822. He was the nephew of Kentucky's 14th governor, from whom he received his name. In Bardstown he grew up and pursued his literary education. He entered the United States Military Academy, at West Point, at the age of 14. He graduated high in his class in 1839. He then served on frontier duty as a 2nd Lieutenant in the 1st US Dragoons until 1842. In 1843, he returned to Kentucky, where he became a resident of Blandville in Ballard county on the Western edge of the state. Here he was engaged in farming and the practice of law.

In 1847, he volunteered to fight in the Mexican War and reentered service as a Captain in the 16th US Infantry. Through promotion, he rose to the rank of Major in the 14th US Infantry by the war's end in 1848. He was also noted for his bravery and leadership at the Battle of Chapultepec.

He returned home to Kentucky and again took up law. He was elected to the Kentucky Legislature as a Democrat in 1850, and served as the State Attorney for the Commonwealth from 1851 to 1855. In 1855, he married Martha Eugenia Moore of Ballard county. They had 4 children, 2 of whom died in infancy.

In 1861, when the Civil War broke out, Charles again offered his services and began to raise a regiment of infantry in his area. The necessary men were gathered and the 7th Kentucky Infantry was officially formed and he was commissioned it's Colonel and commanding officer. He led the regiment through the fall and winter of 1861, where he was commandant of the military post at Columbus, Kentucky while the men of the 7th served provost duties in Paducah and the surrounding area.

In February of 1862, the 7th Kentucky was assigned to a brigade and moved out of the area. After the evacuation of Columbus and the fall of Fort Donelson, the army moved to Corinth, Mississippi and soon went into battle at Shiloh, Tennessee. On Monday, April 7, while leading the regiment in an advance on the Federal right flank, Colonel Wickliffe was seriously wounded. He died 10 days later in a home near Jackson, Tennessee.

In the official report of the battle by division commander General Benjamin Cheatham, he noted, "...the distinguished services of Colonel Wickliffe, who, after noble conduct under my own eye on Sunday, received his mortal wound at about 12 noon on Monday, bravely leading a charge, having previously borne a conspicuous part in Colonel Maney's engagement during the early part of the day".

7th Kentucky veteran Henry George noted: "I remember distinctly the circumstances at the time he fell. There seemed to be a general forward movement on all our part of the line; Colonel Wickliffe rode to the front of the regiment and was leading a charge and urging the men on when he fell."

Brigade commander George Maney stated, "I directed Colonel Wickliffe, of the Seventh Kentucky, who rendered me most efficient service by his activity and gallantry, the re-enforce our left. He did as directed and received his fatal wound at the head of a charge, doing his whole duty as a devoted patriot and gallant soldier."

In his honor, after the war, a small town in Ballard county, his home, was named "Wickliffe". It remains a thriving community today.


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