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Civil War Soldiers - Devens

Devens, Charles, brigadier-general, U.S. Army, was born in Charlestown, Mass., April 4, 1820. He was graduated at Harvard in arts in 1838 and in law in 1840, and practised his profession in Northfield and later in Greenfield, Mass. He was state senator, 1848-49, and U. S. marshal for the district, 1849-53, under appointment of President Fillmore. In this capacity it became his duty to execute the process under which the fugitive slave, Sims, was returned to his owner, but after the rendition he offered to pay for Sims' freedom, and in 1877, when attorney-general of the United States, he appointed him to a position in the department of justice. He entered the Federal army in 1861, was made major of the 3d battalion rifles in April of that year; and in July was appointed colonel of the 15th Mass. volunteers. He served with this regiment until 1862 and was wounded at Ball's bluff. He was made brigadier-general of volunteers, April 15, 1862, commanded a brigade during the Peninsular campaign, and fought at Fair Oaks, Antietam and Fredericksburg, being severely wounded at Fair Oaks and having a horse shot under him at Antietam. For gallant conduct at Fredericksburg he received commendations from the division commander. In 1863 he commanded a division in the 1lth corps at Chancellorsville, and was severely wounded there. Returning to the field in 1864, he was appointed to the command of a division of the l8th army corps, reorganized as the 3d division of the 24th corps, and his troops were the first to occupy Richmond upon the evacuation of the city by the Confederates. On recommendation of Gen. Grant, he was brevetted major-general of volunteers for gallant and good conduct at the capture of Richmond. He commanded the district of Charleston, in 1865-66, and then, in June, 1866, was mustered out of the service and returned to practice his profession in Worcester. He was judge of the superior court of Massachusetts, 1866-73, was afterwards judge of the supreme judicial court, and then resigned to become attorney-general of the United States under President Hayes. At the close of the administration he was appointed by Gov. Long to the supreme bench of the state, where he remained until his death. Gen. Devens was commander-in-chief of the G. A. R. in 1874. He was orator of the day on numerous note- worthy occasions, and, after his death, a heroic size statue was erected to his memory by the state of Massachusetts. Gen. Devens died in Boston, Mass., Jan. 7, 1891.

Source: The Union Army: A History of Military Affairs in the Loyal States 1861-1865, Volume 8 Biographical, 1908

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