C. A. L. Totten

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Charles A. L. Totten

Charles Adelle Lewis Totten (February 3, 1851 – April 12, 1908) was an American military officer, a professor of military tactics, a prolific writer, and an influential early advocate of British Israelism.


Charles Totten was born in New London, Connecticut into a military family. His father, James Totten was a 1st lieutenant in the Army and would become a Brigadier-General in the Missouri Militia during the American Civil War. He was not directly related to Brevet Major General Joseph Gilbert Totten, who was Chief of the United States Army Corps of Engineers from 1838 to 1864.

Totten was appointed to the United States Military Academy at West Point on September 1, 1869. A year later, his father was dismissed from the Army for misconduct.

Military career[edit]

Totten graduated from West Point (where he had been an honor student) in June 1873. He was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the 4th Artillery Regiment. He was promoted to first lieutenant the next year. He would not be promoted again, however, due to slow promotions in the post-Civil War Army.

He taught military science and tactics at Massachusetts Agricultural College, (now known as the University of Massachusetts Amherst) from 1875 to 1878. In this assignment he introduced fencing as a collegiate sport.

Charles Totten and W. R. Livermore are variously credited with being the first to bring the practice of war gaming from Germany to the United States. Totten's book Stragegos, one of the first modern wargaming systems in the United States, was published in 1880.

In 1881 Totten participated in the Chiricahua Campaign against the Apaches in Arizona. For this service, Totten was entitled to receive the Indian Campaign Medal when it was established in 1907.

He was stationed at Fort Adams in Newport, Rhode Island from November 9, 1882 to August 1, 1883. He then served as Professor of Military Science and Tactics, Cathedral School of St. Paul in New York from August 4, 1883 until April 21, 1886. A strong opponent of the Metric System, he patented a system of weights and measures in 1884.

He was again assigned to Fort Adams, as well as serving as an advisor at Rhode Island Militia encampments, from May 30, 1886 until October 1, 1889. His last assignment in the Army was as Professor of Military Science and Tactics at Yale University from August 1, 1889 until 1892.

Writing and Publishing[edit]

After a leave of absence, Totten resigned his commission in August 1893 and settled in Milford, Connecticut with his office in New Haven. He devoted most of his remaining life to writing, chiefly on biblical chronology, biblical prophecy, the Great Pyramid, British Israelism, the symbolism of the Great Seal of the United States and other esoteric subjects.

He was a prolific author, writing over 180 books and articles, including a massive 26 volume series entitled "Our Race" defending British Israelism, and his writings continue to exert influence in some Christian Zionist circles. Totten's works were read and embraced by Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of the Christian Science Church. British Israelism was later embraced by Herbert W. Armstrong, founder of the Worldwide Church of God and the white supremacist Christian Identity movement.

See also[edit]


Cullum's Register of Graduates of the United States Military Academy Vols. III, IV and V.

Some works[edit]

  • Laws of Athletics and General Rules
  • The gospel of history;: An interwoven harmony of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, with their collaterals, jointly and severally re-translated and consolidated word-by-word into one composite truth
  • Joshua's Long Day and the Dial of Ahaz, a Scientific Vindication and "a Midnight Cry"(1890)
  • The seal of history : our inheritance in the great seal of "Manasseh," the United States of America : its history and heraldry; and its signification unto "the great people" thus sealed (1897)
  • An Important Question in Metrology: Based Upon Recent and Original Discoveries: A Challenge to "The Metric System." and an Earnest Word with the English-Speaking Peoples on Their Ancient Weights and Measures (1884)
  • The Romance of History: Lost Israel Found; Or, Jeshurun's Pilgrimage Towards Ammi, from Lo-Ammi
  • The Riddle of History, a Chronological Itinerary Through the Period of the Judges: Together with Other Biblico-Literary Excursus (1892)

External links[edit]