Colonel Charles C. Tew
2nd Regiment N.C. State Troops
Charles Courtenay Tew (born October 17, 1827), a native of Charleston, South Carolina, was an 1846 graduate of the South Carolina Military Academy (the Citadel) and served as a professor at that institution for eleven years. In 1858 he helped establish the Hillsborough Military Academy and became commandant of cadets. On April 20, 1861, Governor John W. Ellis ordered Tew to take command of Fort Macon and “all points and places in its vicinity.” Tew’s tenure at the fort was brief, however, and on June 20 the governor appointed him colonel of the 2nd Regiment N.C. State Troops (to rank from May 8.)
At the Battle of Sharpsburg, September 17, 1862, Tew led the 2nd North Carolina in the early fighting at Bloody Lane, but succeeded General George B. Anderson as brigade commander after Anderson was mortally wounded. Shortly thereafter, Tew walked to his left to converse with Colonel (later major general) John B. Gordon of the 6th Alabama. As the two colonels stood together, a hail of bullets struck them down: Gordon was hit in the leg, and Tew was shot through the brain. Tew was carried into Bloody Lane and placed with his back against the bank closest to the enemy. Later, when the 8th Ohio overran the position, a Federal soldier found Tew “apparently unconscious, the blood streaming from a wound in the head, with his sword held by both hands across the knees.” The soldier attempted to take the sword but Tew “drew it toward his body with the last of his remaining strength , and then his grasp relaxed and he fell forward, dead.” Major General D. H. Hill, in his Sharpsburg battle report, praised the “gallant and accomplished” Tew as “one of the most finished scholars on the continent, and [a man who] had no superior as a soldier in the field.”
Although some of Tew’s personal items were taken by Federal soldiers, three members of the 2nd North Carolina buried him with his sword at an unknown location on the Sharpsburg battlefield.
Image: Quarter-plate ambrotype, N.C. Office of Archives and History.
Mast, State Troops and Volunteers, 1:359; DNCB, 6:18.