Charles Garrison Harker

Charles Garrison Harker was born on December 2, 1835, at Swedesboro, New Jersey. He was left an orphan early in life and at the age of twelve or thirteen became a clerk in a store in Mullica Hill, New Jersey, owned by N. T. Stratton, who served two terms in Congress from 1851 to 1855 and during this period procured for Harker an appointment to West Point. Harker entered the Academy in 1854 and was graduated in 1858 in the class which included the later Confederate brigadier Bryan M. Thomas. After service on the northwestern frontier, Harker was called east at the outbreak of the Civil War and was engaged in drilling Ohio troops, receiving the commission of colonel of the 65th Ohio Infantry on November 11, 1861. He joined Don Carlos Buell's Army of the Ohio and at Shiloh his regiment was attached to James A. Garfield's brigade of Thomas J. Wood's division. By the time of the battle of Perryville, Harker was commanding the 20th Brigade of Wood's division and assisted in "chasing [Braxton] Bragg out of Kentucky." At Murfreesboro in December, 1862, his conduct was so distinguished that Wood recommended- him for promotion to brigadier general. At Chickamauga, Harker conducted the famous defense of the hill on which the Snod-grass house stood, which helped earn for G. H. Thomas the nickname "Rock of Chickamauga." On April 10, 1864, Harker was promoted to brigadier general to rank from the day of the battle. In the Atlanta campaign he commanded a brigade of nine regiments in Newton's division of Howard's IV Corps, Army of the Cumberland. On June 26, 1864, W. T. Sherman made the controversial decision to storm Joseph E. Johnston's intrenched line on Kennesaw Mountain, near Marietta, and the following day selected Newton's division to lead one of two columns of attack. Going into the battle mounted (he had already had four horses killed under him in previous fights but had escaped serious injury), Harker became a conspicuous target for Confederate sharpshooters and was mortally wounded in the abortive offensive, dying a few hours later. His remains were subsequently buried in the New Episcopal Cemetery in the village of his birth.

Previous Page

Reference: Generals in Blue. Lives of the Union Commanders by Ezra J. Warner. Louisiana State University Press. Baton Rouge.