Colonel Charles Augustus Wikoff

Commanding Officer 22nd Infantry

January 28, 1897 - July 1, 1898

 

 

 

Charles A. Wikoff was born in Easton, Pennsylvania on March 3, 1837.

On April 20, 1861 he enlisted as a Private in Company H of the 1st Pennsylvania Infantry.
On May 14, 1861 he was offered a commission as a 1st Lieutenant in the US 15th Infantry.
On June 25 of that year he was discharged from the 1st Pennsylvania Infantry and accepted the commission
in the Regular Army. On April 7, 1862 he was awarded the temporary brevet rank of Captain for
gallant and meritorious service at the battle of Shiloh, Tennessee. In this battle he was wounded
and lost his left eye. On November 25, 1863 Wikoff was awarded another brevet, this time to Major,
for gallant and meritorious service in the battles of Chickamauga, Georgia and Missionary Ridge, Tennessee.

 

     

Charles A. Wikoff

As an officer in the 15th Infantry.

Photo taken prior to the Battle of Shiloh,
where Wikoff lost his left eye.

Photo from:

That Body of Brave Men: The U.S. Regular Infantry
and the Civil War in the West

by Mark Wells Johnson

Publisher Da Capo Press, 2003

 

 

The following passage describes the action in which Wikoff, as a 1st Lieutenant
in the 15th Infantry, lost his eye at the Battle of Shiloh:

 

 

 

 

A photo of Charles A. Wikoff during the Civil War.
The website editor believes this photo was taken after Shiloh
as his left eye appears to be damaged.

Photo by Eckert1732 from Ancestry.com

 

 

On August 15, 1864 Wikoff received a promotion to the permanent rank of Captain in the Regular Army.
He was transferred to the 24th Infantry on September 21, 1866. On April 25, 1869 he was transferred
to the 11th Infantry, where he commanded Company E from 1869-1886. From 1869 to 1876 he served
with the 11th Infantry in the Department of Texas and from 1877 to 1886 he served with the Regiment
in the Department of the Dakotas.

 

An illustration of Charles Wikoff as a Captain in the 11th Infantry, ca. 1869-1886.
He is wearing the officer's undress or field coat model 1872, with black braid
extending from each button and terminating in herringbone loops.
The artist has not tried to hide his injured left eye.

 

 

He was promoted to Major in the 14th Infantry on December 8, 1886.

On November 1, 1891 Wikoff was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel of the 19th Infantry.

On January 28, 1897 he was promoted to Colonel of the 22nd Infantry and joined the Regiment
at Fort Crook, Nebraska on February 8, 1897.

Colonel Charles A. Wikoff took the 22nd Infantry Regiment from its frontier post at Fort Crook,
Nebraska, to the entrance to Santiago Bay, Cuba, on June 20, 1898.

At that time he was transferred to command of 3rd Brigade, and Lieutenant Colonel John H. Patterson
took the 22nd Infantry ashore at Daiquiri, the 22nd thus being the first US Regiment to land on Cuban soil.

On July 1, 1898, COL Wikoff led his Brigade across the San Juan River, and pushed to within five hundred yards
of the Spanish fortifications at San Juan Hill. He was hit by enemy fire and died on the battlefield.
He was the most senior ranking officer of the United States Army to die in action during the Spanish-American War.
Though in command of a Brigade, he had not yet been promoted, thus, at his death, Wikoff's rank was still that of
Colonel of the 22nd Infantry.

 

The following passages from the after action report of 1st Lieutenant Wendell Simpson,
of the 9th Infantry, describe the action in which Colonel Wikoff was mortally wounded.

 

 

 

The following is another account of Wikoff's death:

Wikoff’s 3rd Bgd crossed the Bloody Ford and was directed to pass behind the 1st Bgd to deploy on the left. Col.
Wikoff double-timed his men to the sound of the guns when he fell to a Mauser bullet.
His men carried the colonel back across the Bloody Ford where he was hit again.
Dying in the Cuban river his last orders were 'Get on up boys, they need you.'

From the Spanish War 1898, Inc. website

 

 

 

At the end of February 1902 the 22nd Infantry returned to the United States from their first deployment
to the Philippines. On March 11, 1902 Regimental Headquarters and 2nd and 3rd Battalions returned to
duty station at Fort Crook, Nebraska. Two days prior to that return the weekly Illustrated Bee in Omaha,
Nebraska published the following article about Wikoff which included most of the body of a letter written
to Wikoff's widow by his Adjutant during the War with Spain explaining the circumstances of Wikoff's death:





The Illustrated Bee March 9, 1902
From the Library of Congress Chronicling America

 

 

 

Charles Wikoff was an Original Companion of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States.

 

This portrait of Colonel Wikoff hung on the wall at 1st Battalion 22nd Infantry Headquarters
at Fort Hood, Texas, 1999-2009. Photo courtesy of Major Anne LeGare, wife of LTC Marc LeGare,
Commanding Officer 1-22 IN 1999-2001.

 

 

The signature of Charles A. Wikoff as Commanding Officer 22nd Infantry
on the monthly Return of the 22nd Infantry for May 1897.

 

 

 

Charles Wikoff's decorations

 

 

 

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Charles Augustus Wikoff (March 3, 1837-July 1, 1898)

Wikoff was born in Easton, Pennsylvania, and graduated from Lafayette College with bachelor's and master's degrees.
He worked as a civil engineer under George B. McClellan on the Illinois Central Railroad from 1855 to 1857.

In April 1861, at the outbreak of the American Civil War, Wikoff enlisted as a private in the 1st Pennsylvania Infantry.
The next month he was commissioned a first lieutenant in the 15th U. S. Infantry. He was shot in the left eye
at the Battle of Shiloh and wore an eye patch throughout the rest of his life. He also participated in the
Battle of Chickamauga and the Battle of Missionary Ridge, for which he was a brevetted major.
He was promoted to captain in August 1864

After the war, Wikoff was transferred to the 24th U. S. Infantry, and later to the 11th Infantry, serving in Texas
and the Dakotas. He was promoted to major of the 14th Infantry stationed at Vancouver Barracks in
December 1886. In November 1891 he was made lieutenant colonel of the 19th Infantry, and served at
Forts Wayne and Brady in Michigan. And, in January 1897, he became colonel
of the 22nd Infantry at Fort Crook, Nebraska

In 1898 he led the 22nd Infantry from Fort Crook to Cuba where he was transferred to lead the 3rd Brigade,
2nd Division of Major General William Rufus Shafter's V Army Corps. He was shot during a charge across
an open field in the Battle of San Juan Hill. Within 10 minutes his two successors William S. Worth and
Emerson Liscom were also shot before Ezra P. Ewers, the fourth in command, assumed control.

He is buried in the Easton Cemetery

 

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Easton's Charles Wikoff Gave Up Law For The Military

TWO RIVERS HERITAGE



May 28, 1998|by S.M. PARKHILL (A free-lance story for The Morning Call).


Events that happened during the Spanish-American War in 1889 often are remembered better than the war itself.

We all "Remember the Maine." Old salts rehash the Battle of Manila Bay. For the Marines, it is Guantanamo.

The picture of Teddy Roosevelt and his Rough Riders charging up Kettle Hill at San Juan came out of the Spanish-American War.
During this engagement, there was an enormous loss of life on both sides.

It was at Santiago that Easton lost a hero, Col. Charles A. Wikoff. He was a hero of both the Spanish-American War and the Civil War.

Wikoff was born in Easton on March 8, 1837. After graduating from Lafayette College in 1855,
he was employed as a civil engineer by the Illinois Central Railroad Co.

He then studied law with William Davis of Stroudsburg. His life, like that of so many others, was disrupted on April 12, 1861.
The Confederates fired on Fort Sumter, S.C. The fort was captured on April 14, and the following day,
President Lincoln called for 75,000 volunteers.

Wikoff was two months shy of being admitted to the bar. He put his legal career on hold and, on April 15, 1861, enlisted for
a three-month tour of duty. He entered service as a private in Company H, First Pennsylvania Volunteers. A month later,
he was appointed first lieutenant in the 15th Regiment, U.S. Regular Infantry, and was assigned duty in Tennessee.

On the first day of fighting at Shiloh, April 7, 1862, Lt. Wikoff was wounded and lost his left eye. In the heat of battle,
Wikoff was presumed dead and left on the field.

His injury qualified him for immediate retirement, but he refused. He wanted to serve until he was 64.

For meritorious service in the battle of Shiloh, he was brevetted a captain April 7, 1862, although he did not receive
his captain's commission until more than two years later on Aug. 15, 1864. In the interim, he was made a brevet major
on Nov. 25, 1863, for bravery at Chickamauga and, later, Missionary Ridge.

These were just a few of his many promotions. What had started as a three-month enlistment became a 37-year career.

After the Civil War, Wikoff was transferred to the 11th Infantry and stationed at Vicksburg and Jackson, Miss.
He played critical roles during the Reconstruction.

Wikoff's career then took him to Texas. Based at forts Concho and Richardson, he was engaged in scouting.
He also guarded surveying teams that preceded construction of the Southern Pacific Railroad.

From Texas, Wikoff went to the Dakota Territory, with the Cheyenne Agency, and was stationed at Fort Sully for several years.
Wikoff was transferred to Fort Vancouver in Washington, and then to the Presidio in San Francisco.

Wikoff was considered an excellent officer and "an amiable and social man" -- in short, the picture of an officer and a gentleman.
When he returned East, Wikoff became a member of the District of Columbia Commandery of the Loyal Legion,
and of the Army & Navy Club of Washington.

Wikoff was commissioned a major in the 14th Infantry on Dec. 8, 1886; lieutenant colonel, 19th Infantry on Nov. 1, 1891,
and colonel of the 22nd Infantry on Jan. 28, 1897.

On Dec. 3, 1872, Wikoff married Susan Pomp Mixsell, the eldest living daughter of Charles Wagner Mixsell. Like Wikoff,
Susan was born in Easton on July 11, 1837. He was her second husband. Susan was married on Dec. 7, 1859,
to a New York City man, Samuel Lawson. He died in October 1867.

The Mixsell house, behind the grapevine fence at S. 4th and Ferry streets, Easton, is the home of the Northampton County
Historical & Genealogical Society. The Wikoffs apparently considered this "home," but Army life kept them on the move.

They were living at Fort Robinson, Neb., when the war with Spain was declared on April 21, 1898. Col. Wikoff was assigned
to active duty and on June 21, sailed aboard a transport for Santiago. He was in command of the 22nd Infantry Regiment.
En route, he was promoted to the rank of brigadier general and detached from his regiment to command a brigade
consisting of three regiments: the 9th, 13th and 25th.

The strategy was to join in the capture of Cuba's second largest city, Santiago. It was to be Wikoff's last military engagement.

On Tuesday, a fallen hero returns to Easton.


from The Morning Call

(Ed., the promotion to Brigadier General mentioned in the article above apparently never was official.
Wikoff is listed in the Army Register of 1899 as being Killed In Action as a Colonel of the 22nd Infantry.
He was nominated by President William McKinley, on February 2, 1899, for appointment by brevet
to Brigadier General, but no mention of the brevet being awarded is in the Army Registers.)

 

 

A formal portrait of Colonel Wikoff in the collection of the
Northampton County Historical and Genealogical Society

Northampton County Historical and Genealogical Society

 

 

Model 1881-1902 dress helmet for Infantry officers belonging to
Colonel Charles Wikoff. Note the German silver "22" on the eagle's shield,
denoting the 22nd Infantry.

Northampton County Historical and Genealogical Society

 

Above: Officer's collar insignia of the 22nd Infantry
belonging to Colonel Charles Wikoff.
Sometimes called "false embroidery"
because its texture resembles bullion embroidery.

Right: Model 1860 Staff and Field Officers Sword
belonging to Colonel Charles Wikoff

Northampton County Historical and Genealogical Society

     

 

 

     

Left: A sketch of Colonel Wikoff which appeared in the article
"The Cost of a Year of War",
Munsey's Magazine June 1899.
Note that the artist has shown the left side of Wikoff,
obviously not knowing that Wikoff lost his left eye
at the Battle of Shiloh. The artist apparently made the sketch
from the photograph (above) published in
Harper's New Monthly Magazine
Vol XCVIII No DLXXXVIII May, 1899 p. 849,
showing Wikoff as a Colonel in the 22nd Infantry.

Nearly all portraits of Wikoff done after Shiloh show him facing
to his left, never to the right or to the front, so as to hide
his injured left eye.

 

 

 

COL Wikoff's obituary, as it appeared in the New York Times, July 4, 1898

 

 

The body of Charles A. Wikoff was returned to the United States aboard the transport Michigan
which left Cuba on October 12 and arrived in New York harbor on October 19, 1898. He was then
transported to Easton, Pennsylvania where he was interred in Easton Cemetery.

Burial:
Easton Cemetery
Easton
Northampton County
Pennsylvania

 

The grave of Colonel Charles A. Wikoff in Easton Cemetery.

Find A Grave website

 

 

The inscription on Wikoff's grave

Find A Grave website

 

 

The marker for Charles A. Wikoff.
Note behind it the Spanish War Veterans marker.


Find A Grave website

 

 

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Camp Wikoff

 

At the end of the War, because of fear they were contaminated with yellow fever, typhus or other diseases
thousands of American troops were sent home under quarantine to a camp at Montauk Point, New York
where most remained for a minimum of thirty days before being allowed to return home or to duty stations.

The camp was named Camp Wikoff, in honor of the popular commander of the 22nd Infantry,
who gave his life a few months before, in the meadow below San Juan Hill.

 

Camp Wikoff, Montauk Point, N.Y.

This view shows the 13th Infantry's encampment, with the Atlantic Ocean in the background.
In the right of the photo is the 8th Infantry encampment. Out of the picture, another several hundred
yards to the right was the encampment of the 22nd Infantry.

Theodore Roosevelt Collection, Harvard College Library

 

(Ed., More Americans were killed in Cuba and Puerto Rico in 1898 by tropical diseases than by combat action.
All returning Soldiers were quarantined for at least a month, at Montauk Point, New York, in the hopes of
preventing the spread of such diseases to the US civilian population.)

Camp Wikoff: 1898, Suffolk County, Montauk Point. Established August-September 1898 in vicinity of Fort Pond Bay
as a Federal demobilization and quarantine camp for troops returning from Cuba at the close of the Spanish-American War.
Named for Col. Charles Wikoff, 22nd Infantry, killed before Santiago at El Caney. Selected for its proximity to rail and
deep water anchorage, and because it was believed prevailing offshore winds would hinder spread of tropical diseases
to the civilian population, from August to October 1898. Area later used for National Guard annual training in the 1920s.

from New York State Military Museum website

(Ed., Wikoff was killed at San Juan Hill, not El Caney, as the above article incorrectly states.)

 

This photo of a map of Camp Wikoff was prepared by Theodore Roosevelt County Park.
Lake Wyandanne was later renamed Lake Montauk. The camp was constructed on what is now the occupied center
of Montauk, New York at the south edge of Fort Pond. The green portion at the bottom is Shadmoor State Park.
The map shows all of the positions of the various encampments of the Regular and Volunteer units returned from the war.

from New York State Military Museum website

 

 

Enlargement of section of the above map. The encampment of the 22nd Infantry
can be seen at the bottom left of center, right on the ocean.

from New York State Military Museum website

 

 

 

Souvenir badge
for Camp Wikoff
1898

                                   

Souvenir ribbon
for Camp Wikoff
1898

 

**********************

 

 

Top photo of COL Charles Wikoff taken at Tampa, Florida 1898 as the 22nd Infantry prepared to depart for Cuba.
From a stereoview of 22nd Infantry officers taken at Tampa copyright 1898 by Strohmeyer & Wyman
From the webmaster's collection

 

That Body of Brave Men: The U.S. Regular Infantry and the Civil War in the West
by Mark Wells Johnson, De Capo Press 2003

 

 

The 1st Battalion website is grateful to the Northampton County Historical and Genealogical Society,
and especially
Andria Zaia, M.A., Curator of Collections curator@northamptonctymuseum.org
for the use of the photographs of Colonel Charles A. Wikoff's memorabilia.

Visit the website of the Society by clicking on the image below:

 

 

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