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Col. Charles Courtenay Tew

Charles Courtenay Tew, 1827-1862

Charles Courtenay Tew, Scholar, Educator, Leader

1860 daguerreotype.


Early Years

Charles Courtenay Tew was born on October 17, 1827, in Charleston, South Carolina, to Henry Shade Tew and Caroline Courtenay. Tew was one of The Citadel's first 20 cadets who reported in 1843 to the newly established academy. In 1846, Tew graduated as the first honor graduate in the first graduating class. Following graduation, Tew was a professor at The Citadel Academy and The Arsenal Academy in Columbia from 1846 to 1858. In 1852, Tew took a year-long sabbatical traveling in Europe. His original diary from his travels is in the collection of The Citadel Archives and Museum. He rose to the position of Superintendent at The Arsenal and left in 1858 to found The Hillsborough Military Academy in Hillsborough, North Carolina. In appreciation, his Arsenal cadets gave him a sword when he left Columbia. 


In 1854 Charles Courtenay Tew married Elizabeth Faust Tradewell of Columbia, S.C. They had five children: Elizabeth Caroline, Emma Louise, James Tradewell, Charles Matthew, and Ella Glass. She did not survive her husband long and died in 1870. The locket is in the collection of The Citadel Archives and Museum. 


The War Years

When the Civil War began, Tew was commissioned as a colonel in 1861 and led the 2nd North Carolina Regiment. He carried his sword from his Arsenal cadets and a silver cup from his Hillsborough cadets to battle.  Tew had submitted his resignation to return to teaching, but before Confederate officials replied, his unit arrived in Maryland and fought at Antietam, along the deadly Sunken Road, also known as "Bloody Lane." Tew was shot through the head and was buried in a mass grave. His final resting place is unknown. Tew's sword, watch, and silver cup vanished. 


War Aftermath

Rumors persisted for years that Tew was alive and held as a prisoner of war. Mr. Henry Tew, Col. Tew's father investigated whether he was being held as a prisoner in Dry Tortugas, off the coast of Florida. The Colonel's silver cup was returned to Mr. Tew by a former Union soldier in 1874. In 1885, one of Col. Tew's daughters received a letter from another former Union soldier who described the manner of Colonel Tew's death and stated his company took from his grip his sword, with watch, scabbard, and belt. 

The Arsenal was burned by Union troops near the end of the Civil War, never reopened, and its sole surviving building now serves as the Governor's Mansion in Columbia, South Carolina.

The Hillsborough Academy was closed in 1865 after the surrender of Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston. The academy was briefly reopened, but closed again in 1868. Elizabeth F. Tew may have lived in the upper floor of the barracks until her death in 1870. The building was sold again in 1874 to the Horner and Graves School, but it failed by 1877. Some buildings were then rented as manufacturing facilities, but by 1937, "The Barracks" condition was described as "neglected" in the Historic Buildings Survey. In 1938 the building was dismantled as part of a Works Progress Administration (WPA) project and the property sold. 

The Citadel Academy continued to function as a school during the Civil War, but in 1865 ceased operations and served as a federal troop garrison when the Union forces captured Charleston, South Carolina. In 1882, The Citadel Academy was reopened and 189 cadets reported to class. In 1910, the academy's name was changed to The Citadel, The Military College of South Carolina and it continues to offer undergraduate and graduate degree programs. 


The Barracks, Barracks Road, Hillsborough, Orange County, NC

Historic American Buildings Survey, Archie A. Biggs, Photographer June 29, 1937 FRONT ELEVATION. - The Barracks, Barracks Road, Hillsborough, Orange County, NC Photos from Survey HABS NC-269



Thomas, J.P. (1991). The History of the South Carolina Military Academy. Charleston, S.C.: Walker, Evans, & Cogswell Co., originally published 1893.