Charles Devens, Jr.,
Charles Devens, Jr., was born April 4, 1820, in Charlestown, Massachusetts. His education was begun at the Boston Latin School and completed at Harvard University (1838) and Harvard Law School (1840), when he was admitted to the Massachusetts bar. Devens had a notable antebellum career as lawyer, state senator, United States marshal, orator, and militia officer. Forced to participate in the return of an escaped slave to his owner while serving as marshal, he attempted to purchase, unsuccessfully, the bondman's liberty with his own funds. Immediately upon receipt of the news of President Lincoln's call for seventy-five thousand volunteers, Devens, a militia brigadier, offered his services and was mustered into Federal service as major of the 3rd Battalion of Massachusetts Rifles, a ninety-day unit which was stationed at Baltimore until its discharge on the eve of First Manassas. Four days later, Devens was commissioned colonel of the 15th Massachusetts and fought at the debacle of Ball's Bluff that October, where a uniform button saved his life when he was struck by a rifle ball. Promoted to brigadier general of volunteers on April 15, 1862, he commanded a brigade of the IV Corps at the battle of Seven Pines (Fair Oaks) during the Peninsular campaign and was again wounded. At Fredericksburg, Devens commanded a brigade of the VI Corps and at Chancellorsville, where he was wounded a third time, directed the 1st Division of Howard's XI Corps on the right of the Federal line. The 1st was virtually destroyed as a fighting unit by Stonewall Jackson's flank attack. Historians cannot explain the rewards of this celebrated piece of military ineptitude in which the corps commander was promoted to commander of the Army of the Tennessee under W. T. Sherman and Devens was advanced to brevet major general "for highly meritorious service." Upon his return to active service, Devens commanded a division of the Army of the James during 1864 and 1865 and after the Confederate surrender commanded the District of Charleston, South Carolina. In 1867, General Devens was appointed a judge of the superior court and, in 1873, a justice of the Massachusetts supreme court. Four years later President Rutherford B. Hayes appointed him Attorney General of the United States, after he had declined the war portfolio. Devens was the recipient of numerous degrees and a participant in many commemoratory occasions in his state, where he was the object of universal affection. He died in Boston, January 7, 1891, and was buried in Mount Auburn Cemetery, Cambridge.
Reference: Generals in Blue. Lives of the Union Commanders by Ezra J. Warner. Louisiana State University Press. Baton Rouge.