Charles C. Tew
|Charles C. Tew|
Charles Courtenay Tew
October 17, 1827|
Charleston, South Carolina
|Died||September 17, 1862
|Place of burial||Unknown|
|Allegiance||United States of America
Confederate States of America
|Service/branch||Confederate States Army|
|Years of service||1861–62|
|Commands held||2nd North Carolina State Troops, infantry regiment|
Tew was one of twenty cadets initially admitted to the new South Carolina Military Academy in 1843, now known as The Citadel. Tew graduated first in his class in 1846, becoming both the first graduate of the school and the first honor graduate. Upon graduation, he took a position as a professor at the school. He left The Citadel in 1852, when he spent a year in Europe studying military tactics. When he returned from Europe he was made Commandant of Cadets at The Citadel. 1857 Tew was appointed superintendent of the Arsenal Academy in Columbia, SC. He founded his own successful military academy, at Hillsborough, North Carolina in 1859 called the Hillsborough Military Academy.
When North Carolina seceded, the first two colonels appointed by Governor John Willis Ellis were Tew and D.H. Hill. Tew was commissioned to the 2nd North Carolina State Troops, which, during the Peninsula Campaign was attached to the brigade of Brig. Gen. George B. Anderson in the Army of Northern Virginia. Tew took part in the Peninsula Campaign, the Northern Virginia Campaign, and the Maryland Campaign. Tew was killed-in-action at the Battle of Antietam on September 17, 1862, while leading his regiment, the 2nd North Carolina State Troops.
During the mid-day portion of the Battle of Antietam at the Sunken Road, Tew took command of Anderson's brigade after Anderson fell mortally wounded. Tew and Col. John B. Gordon were talking at the position of the 6th Alabama in the Sunken Road (the famed Bloody Lane) at the center of the Confederate line when both were struck down. Gordon later wrote -
"The first volley from the Union lines in my front sent a ball through the brain of the chivalric Colonel Tew, of North Carolina, to whom I was talking, and another ball through the calf of my right leg. On the right and the left my men were falling under the death-dealing crossfire like trees in a hurricane...."
Capt. Matthew Manly of Company D, 2nd North Carolina wrote -
"During the battle in this bloody lane Colonel Charles Courtenay Tew was killed, his body falling into the hands of the enemy . . . . He was shot through the head and placed in the sunken road . . . Here he was found, apparently unconscious, the blood streaming from a wound in the head, with his sword held in both hands across his knees. A Federal soldier attempted to take the sword from him, but he drew it toward his body with his last remaining strength, and then his grasp relaxed and he fell forward, dead."
Tew was shot through both temples, but evidently did not die immediately. His body was ostensibly pulled down into the Sunken Road after he was struck. When the Confederates were forced to retreat from the Sunken Road, Tew's body was not recovered, and was never identified or returned.
Tew's fate and legacy
Many conflicting stories and rumors were spread concerning Tew's fate. A prominent one was that Tew was alive and a prisoner of war at Fort Jefferson in the Dry Tortugas. Tew's father went to Washington and received permission to visit the prison but he was unable to locate him. His place of burial remains unknown. In October 1874, a Union veteran, Capt. J. W. Bean, sent a silver cup, which had been taken from Tew's body, to Tew's father. Bean's letter also informed Tew's father that he had buried Tew on the field. Tew's sword (presented by the cadets of the South Carolina Military Academy and inscribed with his name) and his watch were never returned to his family.
A photograph taken by Alexander Gardner is believed to contain an image of Tew's body. The photograph, often called "Dead at Bloody Lane" shows a Confederate officer in the bottom right of the photo, lying on his back against the bank of the Sunken Road.
- Confederate Veteran
- The Citadel Alumni Website
- The Battle of Antietam on the Web
- Davis et al., p. 34
- Antietam on the Web article about Tew
- February 1902 article from The Confederate Veteran magazine concerning Tew
- North Carolina Civil War Sesquicentennial
- Davis, Catherine, Paul Davis, and Victor Davis. Antietam Expedition Guide: Battlefield Audio Tour and Guidebook, Travelbrains, 2004, ISBN 978-0-9705809-8-6.