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Bill Thayer

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[image ALT: A head-and-shoulders photograph of an old man with a beard and mustache; he wears hat and a benign and quizzical expression. He is Charles A. L. Totten, an American soldier and author, whose career is detailed on this webpage.]

Professor Charles A. L. Totten

The preceding image, and the text that follows, are reproduced from (the report of the) Thirty-Ninth Annual Reunion of the Association of the Graduates of the United States Military Academy, June 12th, 1908.

 p182  Charles A. L. Totten
No. 2473. Class of 1873.
Died, April 12, 1908, at Milford, Conn., aged 57.

Charles Adelle​a Lewis Totten, born on February 3rd, 1851, in New London, Conn., was the son of Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.James Totten, who was graduated from the United States Military Academy, West Point, New York, in 1841, and the nephew of Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Joseph Gilbert Totten, graduated from the same place in 1805, and after whom Fort Totten, N. Y., was named.

Charles Totten received his early education in the country school of New London, under the old-fashioned school masters. This was continued at the various army posts, where the early years of his life were spent. He entered Taft's Preparatory  p183 School at Watertown, then Trinity College in Hartford, graduating at Trinity in 1869. He received an appointment to the United States Military Academy, entering it in June, 1869. Here he was an "honor man," (viz., among the first ten in the class) until just before graduation in June, 1873.

After his graduation and commission as Second Lieutenant in the United States army, he was assigned to several army posts, and also had a detail as instructor in the Military Academy. He taught for a number of years in the Cathedral School at Garden City, L. I., and was the Professor of Military Tactics at Yale University. His Yale lectures (published in 1890) were of great interest. They included national and international subjects, and the first one on "The Military Outlook at Home and Abroad" was followed by "Military Economy and the Policy of America," "The Military Problem of America with Notes on Sea Coast Defence," and "Organization, Dis-organization, Re-organization and Mobilization."

Totten's book of "Instructions in Guard Duty" was prepared for the Connecticut National Guard, in 1887, and his "Laws of Athletics and General Rules for Use in the U. S. Army," in 1891. Mr. Totten published "Strategies, a Series of American Games of War," with an appended collection of "Studies upon Military Statistics as Applied to War on Field or Map."

Mr. Totten resigned his commission in the United States army in 1892,​b and his position as Professor of Military Tactics at Yale University, to have the time to devote to the writing, publishing and dissemination of the literature connected with the "Our Race Series." This series consisted of twenty-six volumes, of 365 pages each, and takes every subject from "The Romance of History; Lost Israel found in the Anglo-Saxons" in the first volume, to "The Gospel of History with Supplement; Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, interwoven  p184 and harmonized into one composite truth," in the twenty-sixth volume. The "Our Race" pamphlets were also published, each containing from sixteen to sixty-four pages. These pamphlets take up many subjects from date of the Crucifixion — the restoration of Israel, the genealogy of Mary, the Olympic scale, the Olivet discussion, the church and the state; to the eastern question, how the United States may become involved; the Flotsam and Jetsam as to events now happening; the new cycle and the tau cross.

Charles Totten had a wonderful brain and mind, one that is not often found in a century. He had wonderful creative talent, combined with a mind never at rest, always trying to fathom the unsearchable riches of biblical questions, never weary of trying to solve, according to his light and his understanding, the problem of the ages, and making prophecies, founding each one on biblical facts and statements.

He was a deep, earnest and tireless student of Sacred Writ, delving into it as a miner into the earth, and unfolding treasures each time. He never made a statement that he could not prove, according to his light and knowledge, from the bible direct. All statements had for their foundations a scriptural fact.

His writings at times may have seemed mystical, difficult of interpretation, and almost weird, to one just reading them lightly, but to the author they were real; not creatures of his brain, but the works of one who believed he had a sacred duty to perform, and that it was an honor to do all in his power for his country.

His soul and spirit were in his work, and with unwearing energy he continued it until the great strength of mind and body gave out. Mr. Totten and his family came to Milford  p185 about fifteen years ago, and he has been interested in the good of the town, and for a number of years was a member of the Board of Education, and the Acting School Visitor. His visits and talks to the scholars were always welcome events in the school life of Milford.

He leaves a wife and four children, Mrs. William P. Ennis, Lieutenant James Totten, United States army, of the Thirty-fifth Company Coast Artillery, which sailed from Fort Monroe, Virginia, for the Philippine Islands early in April; Miss Muriel Totten, a senior at the New Haven Normal School of Gymnastics, and Dennis Totten, who is attending the Milford school.

Mr. Totten will be much missed in the literary world, for his brain and mind were sufficiently great to grasp the minute things of life, as well as the large ones. The loyalty of Mr. Totten to duty, to honor, to his principles, was intense. He was true friend, an honest critic, who possessed a heart full of love and pity for mankind. "In the low, green tent," whose curtains never outward swing, he will be at rest. The silent stars will keep watch over him, the beautiful verdure of springtime will be above and about him, joyous birds will carol their sweetest songs, and the gentle breezes sing their requiem over him, and loving friends with gentle hands will cover the grave with choicest flowers, and speak of him in love and tenderness, for the world is better for the life of Charles A. L. Totten.


[From the Bridgeport, Conn., Telegram, April 13, 1908.]

Thayer's Notes:

a His entries in the 1900 and 1910 Supplements of Cullum's Register spells the name Adiel; which in view of the other errors in the Bridgeport obituary on this page, seems more likely.

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b Practically speaking, this is accurate, although Cullum's Register records him as having formally resigned only the following year — but after a year-long leave of absence.

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Page updated: 31 Oct 13