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Bill Thayer

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The text that follows is reproduced from (the report of the) Thirty-Second Annual Reunion of the Association of the Graduates of the United States Military Academy, June 8th, 1901.

 p42  Charles M. Schaeffer
No. 2734. Class of 1878.
Died, June 23, 1900, at New Prague, Minn., aged 42.

Major Charles M. Schaeffer was born at Nitny Hall, in the city of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, May 29, 1855. His father was Judge Michael Schaeffer, a jurist of wide learning, who was appointed to the place of Chief Justice of the then territory of Utah during the administration of President Hayes. He came of patriotic stock. His great grandfather was a Captain in the Revolutionary War; his grandfather held a similar position in the war of 1812; and two uncles served through the Civil war in a like capacity. When Major Schaeffer was nine years of age, his parents removed to Salem Illinois, and it was from this place, when he was seventeen years of age, that he received his appointment to West Point on the recommendation of General, afterward Senator, John A. Logan. He entered the Academy in 1875, graduated four years later, and was then assigned to the Fifteenth United States Infantry. Later he was transferred to the Ninth Cavalry, at that time in command of Colonel Hatch. He remained in the service of his country for eight years, and during that time saw service in the southwest, in the Indian wars, where he distinguished himself for personal bravery, and was twice honored by special orders, which may now be found in the records of the department at Washington.

In 1883 Mr. Schaeffer was married to Mrs. Sarah B. Johnson, and shortly afterwards left the service, removing to San Francisco, where he engaged in business. In 1887 he removed to Minneapolis, Minnesota, and entered the law school of the University of Minnesota. Of his work while a student at that institution one of his teachers writes:

"My personal acquaintance with Major Schaeffer began in the year 1888, when he matriculated as a student in the first class of the college of law at the University. Having had the  p43 severe discipline of the course at West Point, he came to the study of the law with an intellectual preparation that at once revealed itself in his daily studies in class rooms. He was quick to perceive a principle, able to comprehend its scope and meaning, and apt to applying it accurately to a given set of facts. He was modest, never attempting to display his knowledge; and prudent, never unnecessarily disclosing his want of it. He was studious, never failing to show in recitation an intelligent consideration of the topic assigned for the work of the day; and he was always courteous, gentlemanly and polite as the true soldier, especially with the West Point training is, almost without exception, almost sure to be. Not once during his entire course did he ever, in the presence of his instructors or in their absence, so far as I know, forget to be a gentleman."

After his graduation, Major Schaeffer was engaged as one of the attorneys for a corporation in the City of Minneapolis, and remained in its service until the breaking out of the Spanish-American war. With the news of the destruction of the Maine and the oncoming of the conflict which he saw was inevitable, the old martial spirit reasserted itself and he hastened to St. Paul and tendered his service to Governor Clough, by whom he was at once given the place of Major in the Fourteenth Minnesota Volunteers. Naturally, there was some grumbling at his receiving so important a place, when there were officers who had served in the State guard for years who coveted the position, but the feeling — what there was of it — was evanescent and soon wore away. By sheer force of his genial personality he won his way, and when, soon after arriving at Chickamauga, he was given rank as senior Major of the regiment, owing to his extended service in the regular army, there was nothing but the heartiest congratulations offered him.

Of his work at Chickamauga, whither the regiment was sent as soon as it could be accoutered, space does not permit to speak. It is enough to say here that they were invaluable and that they will be remembered by the men of his battalion as long as they  p44 live. His first thought was the welfare of his men; his second for his friends and associates; and his last — and least — for himself. He was always a strict disciplinarian, exacting from his subordinates the same deference and courtesy that he never failed to show his superiors.

With the close of the war and the muster out of the regiment, Major Schaeffer returned to civil life. In December, 1898, he was appointed Chief of Police by the newly elected Mayor of Minneapolis, but not finding the office congenial, he declined the appointment, and in January of the following year he entered the office of the County Auditor of Hennepin County and remained there until his death.

He died on June 23, 1900, leaving a widow and one child. During his brief career he proved himself one of the bravest soldiers that ever fought under the folds of the flag he loved so well — at all times a gallant soldier, a chivalrous gentleman, and a man whose friends were limited only by the number of those who knew him.

E. B. Smith

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