January 19: Charles Henry Tompkins (1915)

“The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pleasure in presenting the Medal of Honor to First Lieutenant (Cavalry) Charles Henry Tompkins, United States Army, for extraordinary heroism on 1 June 1861…” With this citation, Tompkins became the first Union army officer to receive the Medal of Honor for action during the Civil War.  Tompkins was the son of a career Army officer and the grand nephew of Vice President Daniel D. Tompkins. He received an appointment to West Point, but did not graduate. Just before the outbreak of the Civil War, Tompkins enlisted and served with honor in various locations around the country, receiving brevets up to brigadier general.

During the war, Tompkins married Augusta Hobbie of New York. The wedding took place at the bride’s home church, but appears in Epiphany’s register indicating Epiphany’s rector was part of the ceremony. The couple’s first three children (all sons) were baptized at Epiphany with two of them following in their father’s footsteps and pursuing a military career. Tompkins himself was confirmed at Epiphany just two days before the baptism of his first child. Tompkins’ second son, and namesake, died in July 1867, 11 months old.  His funeral was at Epiphany before his interment in the family plot at Oak Hill Cemetery.

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