Col. Charles Lewis

While Andrew Lewis is known as the "Hero of the Battle of Point Pleasant," his brother, Col. Charles Lewis, a brave soldier, too, was called "The idol of the army." While Andrew had devoted his life to the cause of his adopted country, he having been born in Ireland where his parents were then residing, it was reserved for Col. Charles to embody the completeness of American association, he having been born in America, being the youngest child of John Lewis and Margaret Lynn Lewis. Thus he had the distinction not only of dying on American soil, but also of having been born there; in 1733, in the county of Augusta, State of Virginia, and was thus all his life known of Virginia, loved of Virginia and he sacrificed his life, satisfied that he had given to Virginia her full measure of devotion. He was mortally wounded while leading a division of the army at the outset of the Battle of Point Pleasant and later was led to his tent where in a few hours he expired. Col. Andrew Lewis, his nephew who was engaged in the battle, says "He received his wound early in the action but did not let it be known until he had gotten the line of battle extended from the Ohio to Crooked Creek, after which he asked Captain Murray, his brother in law, to let him lean on his shoulder and walk with him to his tent, where he expired about 12 o'clock." Captain Arbuckle states that he received a wound which in a few hours caused his death. Roosevelt's winning of the West says "The attack fell first and with especial fury, on the division of Charles Lewis who himself was mortally wounded at the very outset, he had not taken a tree (the frontier expression for covering oneself behind a tree trunk) but was in an open piece of ground, cheering on his men when he was shot. He stayed with them until the line was formed, and then walked back to camp unassisted, giving his gun to a man who was near him. Howe says of him, "Charles Lewis was esteemed the most skillful to all the leaders of the border warfare and was as much beloved for his noble and amiable qualities as he was admired for his military talents." On page 182 of Howe's Virginia Its History & Antiquities, we find a sketch from his life;

"Charles Lewis, the youngest son of John, is said never to have spent one month at a time out of active and arduous service. Charles was the hero of many a gallant exploit, which is still treasured in the memories of the descendants of the border riflemen, and there are few families among the Alleghenies where the name and deeds of Charles Lewis are not familiar as household words. On one occasion, Charles was captured by the Indians while on a hunting excursion, and after having traveled some two hundred miles, barefoot, his arms pinioned behind him, goaded on by the knives of his remorseless captors, he effected his escape. While traveling along the bank of a precipice some twenty feet in height, he suddenly, by a strong muscular exertion, burst the cords which bound him, and plunged down the steep into the bed of a mountain torrent. His persecutors hesitated not to follow. In a race of several hundred yards, Lewis had gained some few yards upon his pursuers, when, upon leaping a prostrate tree which lay across his course, his strength suddenly failed, and he fell prostrate among the weeds which had grown up in great luxuriance around the body of the tree, Three of the Indians sprang over the tree within a few feet of where their prey lay concealed; but with a feeling of the most devout thankfulness to a kind and superintending Providence, he saw them one by one disappear in the dark recesses of the forest. He now bethought himself of rising from his uneasy bed, when lo a new enemy appeared, in the shape of an enormous rattlesnake, who had thrown himself into the deadly coil so near his face that his fangs were within a few inches of his nose; and his enormous rattle, as it waved to and fro, once rested upon his ear. A single contraction of the eyelid a convulsive shudder the relaxation of a single muscle, and the deadly beast would have sprung upon him. In this situation he lay for several minutes, when the reptile, probably supposing him to be dead, crawled over his body and moved slowly away. "I had eaten nothing," said Lewis to his companions, after his return, "for many days; I had no fire-arms, and I ran the risk of dying with hunger, ere I could reach the settlement; but rather would I have died, than made a meal of the generous beast."

Kercheval's History of the Valley, describes the attire of Col. Charles Lewis on that day, at page 114, as follows: "Col Chas. Lewis, who had arrayed himself in a gorgeous scarlet waistcoat, against the advice of his friends, thus rendering himself a conspicuous mark for the Indians, was mortally wounded early in action; yet was able to walk back after receiving the wound, into his own tent, where he expired. He was met on his way by the commander-in-chief, his brother, Col. Andrew Lewis, who remarked to him," I expected something fatal would befall you," to which the wounded officer calmly replied, "It is the fate of war." The same author says at page 115, "Col. Lewis, a distinguished and meritorious officer, was mortally wounded by the first fire of the Indians, but walked into the camp and expired in his own tent."

Peyton's History of Augusta County says "He abandoned himself too much to his passion for glory and forgot the wide difference between an officer and a private, he was not inferior to his brother, the General, in courage, intrepidity and military genius; he surpassed him in some respects, he knew how to oblige with a better grace, how to win the hearts of those about him, with a more engaging behavior. He consequently acquired the esteem and affection of his men, in a most remarkable manner. To perpetuate the memory of his public and private virtues, his eminent services in the field and his heroic fate, the General Assembly of Virginia, in 1816, named Lewis County in his honor."

Col. Charles Lewis

By his kinsmen be was considered the "flower of the flock." Like his brother, he was a man of splendid physique and without disparaging his kindred, he was best loved because of his high degree of morality, spotless integrity and acknowledged bravery. His long and active military career had made him a hero in the eyes of his comrades from the Braddock campaign to the hour of his death, and while had he lived, he doubtless would have added new lustre to his name in the continued struggle of the Revolution; after all, he had but one life to offer up to his country and at this crucial moment no doubt it was needed most. His conduct inspired the army. The sacrifice of his life armed anew his companies and stimulated them to greater feats of daring. Thwaite's Dunmore War says "Charles Lewis was popular and beloved by all the western army. His loss was a general affliction." Dr. Bale's "Trans-Allegheny says: "Colonel Charles Lewis was said to be the idol of the army. He had a large, active and honorable military experience from Braddock's War down to death. And it is believed that he would have achieved greater honors and distinction in the Revolutionary struggle, if his life had been spared, but his brilliant career was ended in glory on this field."

The charge he made at Point Pleasant was in the face of a fearless band of adversaries. When Gen. Andrew Lewis selected his brother to take command of the left wing of the army in the first attempt to repulse Cornstalk and his fearful braves, he selected his brother to bear that peril, not that he loved him less, but that he knew the army needed his courageous example. Col. William Preston, in writing of his death to Patrick Henry, said: "Poor Charles Lewis was shot in clear ground, encouraging his men to advance. If the loss of a good man, a sincere friend, a brave officer deserves a tear he certainly is entitled to it."

At the close of the conflict, his mortal remains were laid to rest upon the reservation of forty feet square upon the present sight of Tu Endie Wei Park, where the Kanawha and Ohio meet. Here, be is buried beside the other dead of that battle. No stone as yet has ever marked his resting place, save the four granite corner stones erected in 1005 by the Col. Charles Lewis Chapter Daughters of the American Revolution at Point Pleasant. While no monument has as yet been reared to mark the last resting place of this great man, a tribute due him from his own loved ones, as well as from a grateful nation; it is equally a matter of congratulation that though tardy the government has donated a small amount $10,000 which with the $6,000 in the bands of the State Commission has been pledged in the contract let for a monument. But greater than this monument is the recognition of the Goverment of the status of the battle as regards the Revolution, standing, as it does, on the heels of Indian depredations on the western frontier and on the threshold of the American Revolution for American Independence. This honor so long delayed, will at last have written this page of American history correctly when a stately monument shall bear the inscription:

Battle of Point Pleasant

October 10, 1774.

First Battle of the American


SOURCE:  The Battle of Point Pleasant A Battle of the Revolution, October 10th, 1774, Mrs. Livia Nye Simpson-Poffenbarger, The State Gazette, Point Pleasant, W.V., 1909