Charles Griffin was born on December 18, 1825, in Granville, Ohio. He left Kenyon College to enter West Point in 1843; he was graduated four years later and was commissioned in the artillery. He served under Winfield Scott in Mexico and then in the Southwest until his appointment to instruct in artillery tactics' at the Military Academy in 1860. At the threat of war in January, 1861, Griffin was ordered to organize a field battery from the detachments of Regulars stationed at West Point; it was immediately ordered to the Capital and saw distinguished service at First Manassas, resulting in Griffin's receiving the brevet of major. In the course of the Peninsular campaign Griffin was promoted to brigadier general of volunteers to rank from June 9, 1862, and thereupon was assigned a brigade in Fitz John Porter's V Corps. This association at Second Manassas resulted in Porter's ruin by court-martial; however, Griffin was ultimately restored to command, even though he had staunchly defended Porter. Griffin commanded a division of the corps at Fredericksburg under General Joseph Hooker, Porter's successor, and in the campaign of Chancellorsville under Daniel E. Sickles. He was absent because of illness during the Gettysburg campaign, although he arrived on the field July 3. In the course of the Richmond campaign General Griffin served continuously in command of his division of the V Corps at the Wilderness, Spotsylvania, Cold Harbor, and Petersburg, where his reputation as an idol of his men and a "hard case" as well was solidified. At one point during the Overland campaign, Grant thought George G. Meade should place Griffin under arrest for insubordinate remarks. Nonetheless, at Five Forks, Philip Sheridan relieved Gouverneur K. Warren with Griffin, a change of commanders which, despite Griffin's demonstrated ability, has found small favor among historians, mainly because of the alleged injustice to Warren. Griffin was commissioned major general of volunteers on April 2, 1865, and was one of the commissioners designated to carry out the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia. Upon the reorganization of the Regular Army in 1866, Griffin was appointed colonel of the 35th Infantry and posted to duty in command of the District of Texas. He refused to leave Galveston when an epidemic of yellow fever broke out there, and he died of the disease on September 15, 1867. He was buried in Oak Hill Cemetery, Georgetown, D. C.
Reference: Generals in Blue. Lives of the Union Commanders by Ezra J. Warner. Louisiana State University Press. Baton Rouge.