Thursday, December 18, 2014

Brigadier General Charles Gratiot, US Corps of Engineers


Charles Gratiot, 1786-1855.

Born the son of a French fur trader at St. Louis, Charles Gratiot Sr. (d.1817), the younger Charles was appointed by President Jefferson to the United States Military Academy in 1804, the same year his home became a United States Territory. He graduated in 1806 and was appointed a 2nd Lieutenant of Engineers. By 1808 he was a Captain in the Corps of Engineers.

During the Autumn of 1812 Captain Gratiot was ordered to the Northwest to become the chief engineer on the staff of the Northwest Army. One of his first duties was to escort the massive ordnance train of siege cannon sent overland from Pittsburgh to Upper Sandusky. Later he assisted Captain Eleazar Wood with the construction of Fort Meigs but suffered from illness. 

He spent the latter part of the war at Detroit and various points in the Michigan Territory, building Fort Gratiot at the inlet of the St. Clair River and participating in the failed attack on Fort Mackinac. Territorial Governor General Lewis Cass appointed him a Colonel in the Michigan Militia in order to have command over militia troops in the Michigan garrisons. 

Shortly following the war he was promoted to Major in the Engineers (February 1815),  Lt. Colonel in 1819, and finally Colonel in 1828, when he was made chief of the Corps of Engineers (and brevetted a Brigadier General). Robert E. Lee was one of his subordinates. He was dismissed in 1838 however as a result of a disagreement over funds. In his later years he worked as a clerk in the St. Louis government land office, and pursued suits against the Federal government before dying in 1855.