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Bill Thayer

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[image ALT: A photograph of a middle-aged man with an oval face only partly obscured by a large drooping moustache, wearing an embroidered military jacket of a late‑19c European type, plastered with four cross-shaped metal decorations the size of saucers, and a row of smaller decorations hanging from ribbons. He is General Charles C. Tevis (also known as Washington C. Tevis), a West Point graduate whose picaresque career is detailed on this webpage.]

General Charles C. Tevis.

The preceding image, and the text that follows, are 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.

 p86  Charles Carrol Tevis​1
No. 1430. Class of 1849.
Died, September 29th, 1900, at Paris, France, aged 72.

General Charles Carrol Tevis, who died at Paris, the 29th of September, 1900, was the most accomplished type of the gentleman and soldier of modern times. An actor in the greater part of the upheavals which marked the second half of the nineteenth century, he had that varied and knightly career so qualified to inflame the imagination of a soldier and to excite his envy.

Born the 22nd of February, 1828, at Philadelphia, Pa., he was admitted the 30th of June, 1845, to the West Point Military Academy. He graduated at the Academy the 1st of July, 1849, to serve as Second Lieutenant in the "Mounted Rifles," and he completed his military education by a stay of one year at the Carlisle Cavalry Depot. The adventurous spirit of Lieutenant Tevis could not long be content with the monotonous requirements of garrison service, so in 1850 he forwarded his resignation  p87 as an officer in the United States army, in order to make his way to Asia and offer his services to the Sultan. He had a presentiment of the approaching campaigns in which the Turkish army was to take part, and burned with the desire to receive in them his baptism of fire. Appointed Bim-Bacchi, a rank equivalent to that of Major, in the Turkish irregular Cavalry, Major Tevis took part with that rank in the Asiatic and Crimean Wars. Mentioned by General George Kmely, under whose orders he served, for his courage, his great valor, and the intrepidity of which he gave proof in these two wars, especially in the battle of Indjédéré and Kurekdéré. Major Tevis, known in Turkey by the name of "Nessim Bey," soon received from the hands of the Sultan the decoration of the Medjidi for his valorous conduct and the services he had rendered to the country. He also obtained from England a Crimean medal.

On leaving the war of 1854, he came to settle down in Paris. His stay in France was of short duration. The American Civil War, which was to desolate for several years the United States of America, was imminent and the General could not fail to take part in it. In 1862 he returned to America and was appointed, the 18th of April of the same year, Lieutenant Colonel in the Federal Army, in the Fourth Regiment, Delaware Infantry. During the entire campaign Colonel Tevis distinguished himself by his high intelligence in military matters and by his spirit of initiative. The reports made by his various chiefs are unanimous in this respect. The 25th of September, 1863, at the time when he left the Fourth Delaware in order to go to the Third Regiment of Maryland Cavalry, the Colonel of his regiment expressed himself as follows:

"Headquarters Fourth Delaware Volunteers. Fairfax, Va., Oct. 10th, 1863. General Order No. 21. Lieutenant Colonel C. C. Tevis of the Fourth Regiment Delaware Volunteers, having been transferred to the Third Maryland Cavalry, and thus honorably removed from his position in this command, the Colonel commanding the Fourth Delaware Volunteers cannot refrain from acknowledging the services of Lieutenant  p88 Colonel C. C. Tevis during his connection with this command. During the time that Lieutenant Colonel C. C. Tevis was attached to the Fourth Delaware Volunteers he was a most useful, active and efficient officer, and it is only due to a good officer to say that most of the efficiency and reputation of the regiment may be attributed to the labor of Lieutenant C. C. Tevis.

By order of

A. H. Grimshaw,

Colonel Fourth Delaware Volunteers."

After having recruited men for the Third Maryland Cavalry into which he had transferred with rank of Lieutenant Colonel, in September, 1863, and having organized another regiment at Baltimore, Lieutenant Colonel Tevis was appointed, the 7th of January, 1864, Colonel of his regiment and went with that force to execute some remarkable reconnaissances, February 29th, 1864, between Madisonville and Covington, and on the Red River, from the 28th to the 30th of March, 1864.

The 13th of March, 1865, Colonel Tevis was appointed Brigadier General​a on a report of Major General Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.E. D. Keyes, commanding in 1863 the Fourth Corps of the Federal Army, and by whom he is made mention in the following letters:

"Inquiry having been made of me concerning the military service of General Carrol Tevis, I take pleasure in making the following statement:

While young Tevis was a cadet, and I at the head of the Department of Artillery and Cavalry at the West Point Military Academy, he was occasionally under my orders, and I remember that he was of a very vivacious temperament, but always prompt and attentive to duty. At a later period when I was in command of the Fourth Corps of the army and charged with guarding several fortified positions and the extensive lines between the James and York Rivers and far to the north of the latter, Tevis, then a Lieutenant Colonel, was under my command during the first six months of the year 1863. As the enemy was continually invading my lines, I retaliated by sending out frequent scouting parties, in several of which Colonel Tevis attracted my favorable notice. In the month of June I organized a raid and placed him in command with full discretion. The object of the raid was to penetrate far within the enemy's lines and to a point near Richmond, where there was a cannon foundry, which I ordered Colonel Tevis to destroy. I regarded  p89 the enterprise as very important and hazardous, and the event proved that its leader had been a fortunate selection. At the head of four hundred men, Colonel Tevis made his way to his objective point, destroyed the foundry, captured and brought in several hundred head of horses, cattle and sheep, one hundred and fifty stand of arms, destroyed several mills and large stores of provisions, and although he operated in the immediate neighborhood of ten thousand Confederate soldiers and was attacked at several points, he lost only eleven men killed, wounded and missing. In my report to my superior I testified of my satisfaction of the conduct of Colonel Tevis in strong language, having qualified it as 'an act of splendid daring.' Upon that report Colonel Tevis was afterwards promoted to the rank of Brevet Brigadier General.​b I had other and subsequent evidences of his good conduct, and when General Tevis was transferred from my command, he left upon my mind the impression of an enterprising officer and gentleman."


E. D. Keyes,

Ex-Major General and Commander Fourth Corps, Army of the Potomac.

After the War of Secession, General Tevis again left America, went to Rome and offered to serve as a private soldier in the Pontifical Zouaves. Touched by this offer, made by an officer who had a renowned military record, Pope Pius IX appointed the General, on February 22nd, 1868, secretº chamberlain of the Cloak and Sword, with the title of Count, inherent to that office. During a stay in France previous to this time, General Tevis had embraced the Roman Catholic religion and had been baptised by Monseigneur Darboy, Arch-Bishop of Paris. The 10th of March, 1869, he was appointed a commander of the order of Francis I.​c

The Franco-Prussian War of 1870‑71 signalizes a remarkable period of the military life, already so full of action, of General Tevis. Having come to France towards the end of the year 1870, to offer his services to the government of the national defense, he was appointed, the 14th of December, General of Brigade (with provisional rank) and summoned to the command of the Twentieth Brigade of Cremer's Division. This brigade belonged to the Eighteenth Army Corps, which was commanded  p90 by General Billot, and formed part of the Army of the East, of which General Bourbaki was commander-in‑chief. General Tevis took part in all the operations of this army, at the battle of the Sizaine which it fought with the Germans, to the south of Belfort, and in the combats which preceded this battle. He was present at the combats of Etoban, January 15th, 1871; of Chennebier, January 16th and 17th; of Villers-la‑Ville on the 19th, and of Grande Fontaine,º the 22nd of January, 1871. Wounded at Chennebier, he received on the field of battle the cross of the Legion of Honor. During the retreat of the French army on Switzerland, a retreat covered by the Eighteenth Army Corps, General Tevis, after having crossed the Swiss frontier, succeeded in escaping and in re-entering France with the Eighty-third Regiment of Mobiles, he remained at the disposition of the French government until the end of the war, which took place shortly after. A letter which his commander-in‑chief, General Billot, afterwards several times Minister of War, wrote to him after the campaign, shows what value this distinguished general officer set upon his American colleague:

Paris, January 2, 1877.

My Dear General:— I have received your letter of December 15, 1876. I thank you for it, for in recalling to me the various combats in which you took part at my side or under my orders during the last war, you have renewed in me the profound impression of consideration and esteem which your brilliant military services inspired in me in 1870‑71. I have had occasion many times since to repeat that Second Brigade of Cremer's Division had particularly distinguished itself in all the encounters it had had with the enemy, and especially at Etoban, January 15th, 1871, at Chennebier, January 16th and 17th, 1871, where you were wounded while fighting for the preservation of France; at Villers-la‑ville the 19th of January; at Grande Fontaine the 22nd of January. I have not forgotten either that after the disastrous retreat of the Army of the East, whose march I covered with the Eighteenth Army Corps, some especially valiant leaders, like Colonel Goury, of the Engineers, at the head of the Fourth Zouaves, and General Carrol Tevis with the Eighty-third Mobiles, were able to escape the pursuit of the enemy, and while the rest of the army took refuge in Switzerland, remained in France to continue the struggle.

 p91  I am happy, my dear General, to be able, on the advent of the new year, which perhaps will be fruitful in great events, to congratulate you anew for the services which you have rendered to my country. Receive, my dear General, the assurance of my high regard.


General Billot, Senator,

Ex-commander-in‑chief of the Eighteenth and Twenty-fifth Army Corps.

An order of General Ferri-Pisani,º commanding the Twenty-fifth Army Corps, to which General Tevis had been assigned with rank of General of Division after his escape from Switzerland, is not less eulogistic than the preceding letter:

Headquarters Twenty-fifth Army Corps.

General Order No. 161.

In pursuance withº the disbanding of the Twenty-fifth Corps, General Carrol Tevis, who commanded the Second Division, is relieved from his duties. In separating from this general officer, it is agreeable to me to state that I have had cause only to be satisfied with his splendid services during the short space of time which he has spent in the Twenty-fifth Corps.

St. Amand, March 10th, 1871.

By order.

Signed, Fourchault,

Colonel, Chief of Staff.

In 1872, General Carrol Tevis went to Egypt, to Cairo, where he was called by General Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Stone, his former superior at West Point. Appointed Chief of Staff of the Khedive's Army January 21st, 1873, he was appointed commandant of the military school of Abbaziek, with the rank of General of Brigade. The political discords at that time in Egypt decided him, however, to resign on the 4th of May, 1873. He then passed two years in Italy, and came afterwards to settle definitely in Paris with his family. He left France again only to take part in two new campaigns, one in the Turkish army in 1874, and the other in Bulgaria in 1877.

 p92  On the occasion of the French universal exposition of 1878, General Tevis was appointed a member of the Jury of the American Section, and received the cross of officer of the Legion of Honor.

From 1880, General Tevis wrote numerous able articles upon military subjects in journals in the United States.

The General died at Paris the 29th of September, 1900. His interment took place in that city in the Montparnasse Cemetery. He leaves, from his marriage with Miss Blanche Florance, of Philadelphia, an only daughter, born in America and married to an officer of the French army, Lieutenant Colonel Gouget de Landres, Chief of Staff of the First Cavalry Division.

At the time of his death General Carrol Tevis was the holder of numerous decorations and orders — officer of the French Legion of Honor; Chevalier of the Papal Order of Benemerenti and of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre; Commander of the Orders of Medjidi and of the Nicham Iflikar, and of Francis I; holder of the Crimean and Venzuelaº medals.

The decorations, as well as the eulogistic orders of which General Carrol Tevis was object on the part of his former chiefs in the different parts of the world, are precious souvenirs, which his family desire to keep, for they retrace faithfully and in a brilliant manner the military career so varied and so remarkable of this general officer.


The Author's Note:

1 Known as Washington C. Tevis when a cadet.

Thayer's Notes:

a Thus our anonymous author; but according to Cullum's Register (q.v.) Colonel Tevis was discharged from the Union Army in 1864, and not mentioned as re-appointed; and in 1865 Gen. Keyes, as his letter states, was an ex-general, having resigned the year before; Cullum mentions no promotion of Tevis to brigadier-general, and at any rate Keyes of course could not have "appointed" him to that rank. What follows is thus a mere letter of recommendation, that was not acted upon.

More generally, the obituary is so sloppily written and proofread, with so many small errors, that it should be treated cautiously as a source of information.

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b No promotion to Brevet Brigadier General is recorded in Cullum's Register; on the contrary, an arrest and a discharge, no cause being given.

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c Coming on the heels of a French archbishop, and with no explanation from our author, the reader might be excused for connecting this order with the great French king, but the monarch in question was king of Naples, and the Order is the Royal Order of King Francis I in the Kingdom of Two Sicilies: we are left hanging as to what it was awarded for.

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Page updated: 9 Dec 10