Charles Edward Phelps MOH

b. 01/05/1833 Guilford, Vermont. d. 27/12/1908 Baltimore, Maryland.

DATE OF MOH ACTION: 08/05/1864 Laurel Hill, Virginia.

Charles E Phelps MOH

Charles Edward Phelps was born in Guilford, Vermont, on May 1, 1833. His father was John Phelps, a lawyer and Senator in the Vermont State government. At the age of 5, he moved with his parents to Pennsylvania, and at the age of 8 to Maryland, when his mother, Almira Hart Lincoln Phelps,(sister of Emma Willard), became principal of the Patapsco Female Seminary in Ellicott City. He matriculated at Princeton University, where he was admitted to the Zeta Psi fraternity, graduating in 1852. He then studied at Harvard University Law School, graduating in 1853.

Phelps was admitted the Maryland bar association in 1855. He was admitted to practice in the Supreme Court of the United States in 1859. In 1860, Phelps was elected and served on the Baltimore City Council.

In 1861, Phelpswas commissioned a major of the Maryland Guard, and, in 1862, he was raised to lieutenant colonel of the 7th Maryland Infantry Regiment, fighting for the Union. He became colonel in 1863.

During the Battle of the Wilderness in 1864 his horse was killed from under him. While leading a charge at Laurel Hill during the Battle of Spotsylvania, Phelps was wounded and taken prisoner. However, he was later rescued by General Phillip Sheridan’s cavalry under the immediate command of Brigadier General George Armstrong Custer. Phelps received the Medal of Honor for valor at the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House on May 8, 1864.

He was honorably discharged on account of wounds on September 9, 1864. Shortly thereafter Phelps was elected as congressman from the 3rd district of Maryland to the Thirty-Ninth Congress as an Unconditional Unionist, and was reelected to the Fortieth Congress as a member of the Conservative Party (as the Democratic Party was being referred to in some states). On May 4, 1866, President Andrew Johnson nominated Phelps for appointment to the brevet grade of brigadier general of volunteers to rank from March 13, 1865, and the U.S. Senate confirmed the appointment on May 18, 1866.

After the war, Phelps became a companion of the Maryland Commandery of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States. In 1869, he established a legal practice with John Van Lear Findlay. In 1896, Phelps became a charter member of the Maryland State Bar Association.

Phelps taught at University of Maryland Law School from 1884 through 1907, where he was a professor of equity. In 1901, he published the book Falstaff and Equity, relating legal arguments to Shakespeare. In 1907 he received an honorary Doctor of Laws from Princeton University.



Rode to the head of the assaulting column, then much broken by severe losses and faltering under the close fire of artillery, placed himself conspicuously in front of the troops, and gallantly rallied and led them to within a few feet of the enemy’s works, where he was severely wounded and captured.