Charles Edgar Clark
Charles Edgar Clark
Charles Edgar Clark in 1899
|Born||August 10, 1843|
Bradford, Vermont, U.S.
|Died||October 1, 1922 (aged 79)|
Long Beach, California, U.S.
|Service/||United States Navy|
|Years of service||1863–1905|
|Battles/wars||American Civil War|
• Battle of Mobile Bay
• Battle of Santiago de Cuba
Born in Bradford, Vermont on August 10, 1843, Charles Edgar Clark attended Bradford Academy and then the Naval Academy in 1860. He graduated the Naval Academy in 1863 and served on the screw sloop Ossipee during the Civil War for the Battle of Mobile Bay. Clark was officially made a captain in 1896, most remarkably for his command of the battleship Oregon. After his impressive commandment of his ship at Cervera’s squadron, and was appointed Rear Admiral in 1902. Clark died of heart failure in Long Beach on October 1, 1922, at age 79.
Charles Edgar Clark was born in Bradford, Vermont on August 10, 1843, to James Dayton Clark and Mary Sexton Clark. His earlier education was largely composed of his attendance to Bradford Academy. From a young age, Clark was an avid reader and especially fond of military history. He was inspired by historical military figures such as Hannibal, Napoleon, Marlborough, and many more generals, and expressed interest in attending military school around age sixteen. His father (James Dayton Clark) was acquaintanced with the Honorable Justin S. Morrill, and wrote to him asking for an appointment for Charles to the Military Academy. While he was denied at West Point on account of there being no vacancies, Morrill offered Clark a spot at the Naval Academy, which he accepted.
Clark travelled to the Naval Academy in Annapolis and arrived there on September 29, 1860. He first reported to the superintendent of the Naval Academy, Captain George S. Blake, and began working on the ship Constitution, or “Old Ironsides”, with C. R. P. Rodgers, Edward Simpson, Stephen B. Luce, and Lieutenants Flusser, John Taylor Wood, Hunter Davidson, and William H. Parker.
Rumors of war influenced a rising unrest at the Academy, and students’ desire to leave school to be part of a fight was stronger than ever. Clark’s first practice cruise was during the summer of 1862. It took place in the USS John Adams (1799) under the supervision of Commander Edward Simpson. During this trip, their crew ventured up the Peninsula near the Fortress Monroe, and then to Yorktown, Long Island, and New Haven. His second practice cruise was a summer later, in 1863. The crew served under Commander Steven B. Luce on the corvette Macedonian. This trip ventured across the North Atlantic to New England, Plymouth, and Spithead. It was there that Clark and the other students visited the Arsenal at Woolwich, where they saw weapons like triphammers. They spent time in France and New York, where they were towed into Long Island Sound by the steamer Freeborn shortly before she sank. Clark and the crew of the Macedonian rescued the other sailors and continued on their way.
Life as a Sailor and Captain
Clark graduated from the Naval Academy in 1863. He commanded the Bermuda for the passage to the Philadelphia Navy yard, where he then reported to the screw sloop USS Ossipee (1861). He stayed on the Ossipee (which was under the command of John P. Gillis) for the Battle of Mobile Bay and in the bombardment of Fort Morgan, which was all his Civil War service. Clark was promoted to captain in 1896.
In March 1898, he took command of the battleship USS Oregon (BB-3) at the Mare Island Naval Shipyard, San Francisco. When war with Spain was deemed inevitable, he received orders to proceed to Key West, Florida, with all haste. The Oregon, her crew, and Clark sailed from San Francisco on March 19. After a most remarkable voyage of over 14,000 miles, around Cape Horn, he joined the American fleet in Cuban waters on May 26. On May 27, his crew was increased by sixty sailors. With a team of other ships; Brooklyn, Massachusetts, Iowa, Texas, Marblehead, and New Orleans, they set up a blockade intended to last until July. On July 3, the USS Oregon, captained by Clark, led the chase resulting in the destruction of Cervera's squadron. For this high accomplishment, he was advanced in seniority, and was appointed Rear Admiral 16 June 1902.
Admiral Clark was a Veteran Companion of the Vermont Commandery of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States.
He died of heart failure at his home in Long Beach, California on October 1, 1922.
The destroyer USS Clark (DD-361) was named for him.
There is a statue of Admiral Clark in his hometown of Bradford, Vermont.
- Clark, Charles Edgar (1917-01-01). My Fifty Years in the Navy. Little, Brown.
- This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. The entry can be found here.[permanent dead link]
- Fatherley, John A. In the Vortex Charles E. Clark USN, West Springfield, MA, 2001
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