A Civil War Biography

Charles Ewing

Ewing was born 3 March 1835 in Lancaster, Ohio. He was the son of Ohio Senator Thomas Ewing who was also Secretary of the Treasury in the cabinets of William Henry Harrison and John Tyler and the first Secretary of the Interior when that cabinet position was established during the administration of Zachary Taylor. Charles Ewing was educated at St Joseph's, a Dominican college in Perry County, Ohio and at Gonzaga College in Washington, DC. He then studied law at the University of Virginia, was admitted to the bar, and in 1860 established a practice in St Louis, Missouri. He practiced law until the beginning of the Civil War.

Following the firing on Fort Sumter, President Abraham Lincoln, in addition to calling for volunteers, authorized, on 4 May 1861, the creation of several new regiments in the regular army. Ewing became a captain in the 13th US Infantry, one of these new regiments. The 13th's colonel was William Tecumseh Sherman, Ewing's foster brother, Sherman having been adopted by Thomas Ewing and also Charles' brother-in-law, Sherman having married Ellen Ewing, Charles' sister. In the spring of 1862 Ewing joined Sherman during the Arkansas and Mississippi campaigns. Ewing was commissioned lieutenant colonel and assistant inspector general of volunteers on 22 June 1862. On 15 June 1863 he was named inspector general of the XV Corps which Sherman commanded. Ewing was wounded three times during the siege of Vicksburg. He remained on Sherman's staff at Chattanooga and during the Atlanta campaign, the "March to the Sea", and the Carolina campaign. Ewing was commissioned brigadier general of volunteers on 8 March 1865.

When the war ended Ewing was mustered out of the volunteer service and transferred to the regular army as a lieutenant colonel. He resigned from the army on 31 July 1867 and established a law practice in Washington, DC. In 1873 he was named the first Catholic Commissioner for Indian Missions, a position within the newly established Catholic Indian Bureau. The Grant administration, seeking to replace the system of Indian agents that was proving unsatisfactory, stipulated that administration of each Indian agency was to be entrusted to the religious denomination that had an established mission among the tribe. For his efforts in restoring to the Catholic Indian Missions the schools among the Indians, Pope Pius IX named Ewing a Knight of the Order of St George the Great on 3 May 1877. Ewing still held the commissioner position when on 20 June 1883 he died from a sudden attack of pneumonia.

Two of Charles Ewing's brothers would also rise to the rank of general during the Civil War. Hugh Boyle Ewing would become a brigadier general of volunteers in November 1862 and, after serving as colonel of the 30th Ohio regiment, at South Mountain and Antietam, would command a division in the XV Corps from Chattanooga through the Carolina campaign. Thomas Ewing Jr would become a brigadier general of volunteers in March 1863 and, after recruiting the 11th Kansas Cavalry and serving as its colonel, would command the District of the Border and oppose Sterling Price during Price's Missouri raid.

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