Meriwether Lewis Clark
Meriwether Lewis Clark was born on
January 10, 1809, in St. Louis, Missouri, the eldest son of the famous explorer
and U.S. senator William Clark and his wife, Julie Hancock. The younger Clark
graduated from West Point in 1830, twenty-third in a class of forty-two. After
seeing action in the Black Hawk War, he resigned from the army and returned to
St. Louis to live. Clark met with success as an architect in that city, where he
designed such noted structures as the Church of St. Vincent de Paul and the St.
Louis Theater. In 1836 Clark was elected to represent St. Louis in the Missouri
House of Representatives. During the Mexican War Clark was appointed major to
command the Missouri artillery battalion that accompanied Doniphan's expedition
to New Mexico. In 1849 President Zachary Taylor appointed him the federal
surveyor general for Illinois and Missouri. By 1860 he was living a genteelly
impoverished life of semiretirement in St. Louis.
No rebel firebrand, Clark deplored the fanaticism of both North and South and, with war approaching, tried to induce his son (a cadet at West Point) to stay in school. However, with the firing on Fort Sumter Clark's fulminations against the "folly" of "treason ... to our beloved country" abated, and he joined what he now called "the glorious cause." On September 17, 1861, Clark left his St. Louis home to join the southern army. Sneaking through the Union lines at great risk, he made his way to Missouri's Rebel army. In October, 1861, Clark was made brigadier general of the 9th District (Division) of the Missouri State Guard. This district comprised Union-held St. Louis; the southern sympathizers of that city who had gone south had already joined the Confederate army, or joined state guard units from other districts. The 9th Division command was thus a nominal one. Clark opted for service with the Confederate army. He was appointed major of artillery on November 11, 1861, and colonel of artillery on April 16, 1862. On December 22,1861, he was ordered to Fort Smith, Arkansas, to take charge of supply matters there. After the Battle of Pea Ridge (March 6 and 7, 1862) he was ordered to report to Major General Earl Van Dorn, commander of the Army of the West. That April the army (which included most of the old Missouri State Guard) was transferred from Arkansas to northern Mississippi. In the next months Clark served as chief of artillery of the Army of the West, chief of artillery of General Braxton Bragg's Department No. 2 (comprising Mississippi, Alabama, and Tennessee), and as commander of an artillery brigade in the Army of the West. On November 30, 1862, Bragg relieved Clark from command of his brigade, presumably because the two did not get along; Clark complained that Bragg made him a glorified clerk. With Bragg enjoying the favor of the president, Clark's career was, to use his own words, on the shelf. The next two years Clark was assigned the sort of administrative duties that undesirable officers were given: service on a court of inquiry and inspection duty with the Confederate ordnance department in Richmond. During the winter of 1864-1865 the "brave yet gentle" Clark was assigned temporarily to command Barton's brigade of reservists in the Richmond defenses. The brigade was broken up in early 1865, and Clark returned to the ordnance department. That April, when the Army of Northern Virginia evacuated Richmond, Clark followed along, and at the Battle of Sayler's Creek (April 6,1865) Union troops captured the aged Clark and most of the Richmond garrison.
After the war Clark settled in Kentucky, where many of his and his wife's relatives were leading citizens. The Kentucky Military Institute in Frankfort hired Clark as a professor of mathematics; he eventually became commandant of cadets. The state later hired him as an architect to design a new wing for the state capitol building. He died in Frankfort on October 28,1881, and is buried in Bellefontaine Cemetery in St. Louis.
Clark is listed as a general in Heitman. He was a general in the Missouri State Guard, but was never more than a colonel in the Confederate army. As late as March 8, 1865, Colonel Clark petitioned the government for promotion to general.
Reference: More Generals in Gray. Bruce S. Allardice. A companion volume to Generals in Gray. Louisiana State University Press. Baton Rouge. LA.