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Charles M. Betts, U.S.V.
Lieutenant-Colonel Charles M. Betts, U.S.V.
Lieutenant-Colonel Charles M. Betts (Fifteenth Pennsylvania Cavalry),
son of John and Sarah C. Betts, was born in Bucks County, Pennsylvania,
August 9, 1838. His boyhood life was passed on the farm of his father and
in attending school at Loller Academy, Hatboro, Pa. Having a taste for
commercial life, after a term at Gummere's School, Burlington, New Jersey,
he entered the employ of a wholesale lumber firm in Philadelphia in the
year 1856. Soon after the breaking out of the Civil War he joined one of
the military companies forming for home defense, and was commissioned
first lieutenant by Governor Curtin. In November, 1861, resigning the
clerkship previously held, he went to Alexandria, Virginia, and secured a
position as chief clerk in the Quartermaster's Department of General
Franklin's division, and participated in the campaigns of the Army of the
Potomac until the close of the Seven Days' battles in front of Richmond,
Virginia. At the call of the President for three hundred thousand more
troops, feeling that duty required him to take a more active part in the
suppression of the Rebellion, he resigned his position and returned to
Philadelphia, when, August 12, 1862, he enlisted as a private in the
(Anderson) Fifteenth Pennsylvania Cavalry, then forming. He was with a
portion of that command at the battle of Antietam, after which the
regiment was transferred to Louisville, Kentucky, when he was made first
sergeant of Company E. Soon after the regiment was sent to Nashville,
Tennessee, and with some three hundred of its members he participated in
the battle of Stone River under General Rosecrans.
At the reorganization of the regiment March 1, 1863, he was commissioned
captain of Company F, and given the command of a battalion, as no major
was commissioned after the reorganization until May, 1864. In a fight with
the Cherokee Indians near Gatlinburg, East Tennessee, he was wounded in
the left arm December 10, 1863, In May, 1864, a commission of major was
given him, and at the opening of the campaign of 1865 he was made
lieutenant-colonel, and given the active command of the regiment, Colonel
W. J. Palmer having been promoted to brevet brigadier-general. He took an
active part in all the movements of the regiment, except when on leave of
absence from his wound, and with the column of Stoneman participated in
the exciting campaigns through the western part of the Carolinas, and with
his regiment, when looking for the trail of Jefferson Davis, made an
important capture, which is spoken of in General Palmer's report as
follows " On the morning of the 8th instant, while searching for Davis
near the forks of the Appalachee and Oconee Rivers, Colonel Betts,
Fifteenth Pennsylvania Cavalry, captured seven wagons hidden in the woods,
which contained one hundred and eighty-eight thousand dollars in coin, and
one million five hundred and eighty-eight thousand dollars in bank-notes,
bonds, etc., of various Southern States, and about four million dollars of
|| Confederate money, besides
considerable specie, plate, and other valuables belonging to private
citizens in Macon. . . . The wagons also contained the private
baggage, maps, and official papers of Generals Beauregard and
Pillow." In closing his report of the exciting chase, General Palmer
says: " I desire to recommend for honorable mention and promotion
Lieutenant-Colonel Charles M. Betts, commanding Fifteenth
Pennsylvania Cavalry, for gallant conduct in charging and capturing
a South Carolina battalion of cavalry, with its commanding officer,
Lieutenant-Colonel Johnson, in front of Greensboro, N. C., on the
morning of April 11, 1865; also for thoroughly preserving the
discipline of his regiment on an active campaign, during which the
troops were compelled to live exclusively on the country." For the
action at Greensboro, N. C., he has lately received a medal of
honor, in accordance with the Act of Congress approved March 3,
Colonel Betts was mustered out of service with his regiment June 21,
1865, and has since achieved success in the wholesale lumber business,
having been for nearly twenty-five years a member of the firm of Taylor &
Betts, and since 1890 the senior of the firm of Charles M. Betts & Co., at
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Buffalo, New York. He is a member of the
Pennsylvania Commandery, Military Order of the Loyal Legion, and served
three years in the council of that body. He takes an active interest in G.
A. R. matters, and is past commander of Post 2, Philadelphia. He was one
of the incorporators of the Lumbermen's Exchange, Philadelphia, serving as
a director in that organization, and its president in the year 1890.
On May 3, 1866, he was married to Louisa G. Hance. Four sons and one
daughter are the result of this union.
Source: Officers of the Volunteer Army and Navy who
served in the Civil War, published by L.R. Hamersly & Co., 1893, 419
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