About Charles Edward Phelps, Brig. General
Charles Edward Phelps (May 1, 1833 – December 27, 1908) rose to the rank of Brigadier General in the U.S. Army in the Civil War, served as a city councilman, a U.S. Congressman from the third district of Maryland, and received the Medal of Honor.
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. He joined the Maryland bar in 1855. He was admitted to practice in the Supreme Court of the United States in 1859. In 1860, he was elected to the Baltimore city council.
In 1861, he was commissioned a major of the Maryland Guard, and, in 1862, he was raised to lieutenant colonel of the Seventh Maryland Volunteers, fighting for the Union. He became colonel in 1863. He was honorably discharged on account of wounds in 1864, and was shortly thereafter elected as congressman from the 3rd district of Maryland to the Thirty-Ninth Congress, and was reelected to the Fortieth Congress. He was subsequently given commission as brevet Brigadier General, and received the Medal of Honor for valor at the Battle of Spotsylvania. In 1868, he married Martha Woodward of Baltimore. He was professor of equity at Maryland University Law School, and served for many years as Judge of the Supreme Bench of Baltimore. 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.
Medal of Honor citation
Rank and Organization:
Colonel, 7th Maryland Infantry. Place and date: At Laurel Hill, Va., May 8, 1864. Entered service at: Baltimore, Md. Born: May 1, 1833, Guilford, Vt. Date of issue: March 30, 1898.
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.