Thursday, December 27, 2012

Colonel Charles Harvey Denby of the 80th Indiana Infantry Regiment: my 2nd cousin 5x removed

Charles Harvey Denby

Charles Harvey Denby was born at Mount Joy, Botetourt, Virginia on June 16, 1830.  He is my 2nd cousin 5x removed.  He was the eldest son of Nathaniel and Jane Denby.  His father Nathanial Denby, my 1st cousin 7x removed, was a Virginia ship-owner, interested in the European trade.  Nathanial was appointed to a post at Marseilles, France, that was similar to that of a Consul-General, but then known as Naval Agent of the United States.  After his appointment, Nathaniel Denby took Charles with him to France. There Charles learned to become fluent in the French Language, an act that would later help his diplomatic career.

Charles was educated at Tom Fox Academy in Hanover County, Virginia.  He later attended Georgetown College in Washington D. C, and finally the Virginia Military Institute, where he graduated with high honors in 1850.  In 1853, Charles and his family relocated to Evansville, Indiana.  Prior to the Civil War, Charles was a Lawyer.  After the Union defeat at Fort Sumter, he raised a volunteer company that guarded the powder magazine near Evansville, Indiana.  Denby's volunteer company would become Company A of the Indiana 42nd Infantry Regiment.  

Charles officially enlisted as a Lieutenant Colonel in Company S, Indiana 42nd Infantry Regiment on September 12, 1861.
 

National Flag of the Indiana 42nd Infantry Regiment

Regimental Flag of the Indiana 42nd Infantry Regiment

The Indiana 42nd Infantry Regiment completed its organization in Evansville, Indiana on October 9, 1861.  Denby's first engagement with the Indiana 42nd actually took place in September of 1861 before the Unit completed its organization.   Denby led four companies up the Green River to protect the first lock at Calhoun, Kentucky.  The Indiana 42nd was attached to Colonel William H Lytle’s Seventeenth Brigade, Third Division, First Corps, of the Army of the Ohio.  The Seventeenth Brigade also included the Indiana 88th, the Kentucky 15th, the Ohio 3rd and 10th, and Captain Cyrus Loomis' 1st Battery of Michigan Light Artillery. 

On October 8, 1862, Lieutenant Colonel Denby was wounded twice during the Battle of Perryville, Kentucky.  He was shot once in he lip and once in the leg.  Two bullet holes were shot through his coat.  His horse was also shot from under him and killed.  The Indiana 42nd Infantry Regiment was involved in some of the heaviest fighting during the Battle.  The Regiment lost about 145 killed and wounded, about one third of its entire force.  Lieutenant Colonel Denby was reported as serving with great valor and distinction and was well liked by all the men of the Indiana 42nd.

Following the Battle of Perryville, for gallantry in action, Charles Harvey Denby was appointed as Colonel of the 80th Indiana Infantry Regiment on October 21,1862.


Flag of the Indiana 80th Infantry Regiment


Charles remained in Command of the Indiana 80th Infantry Regiment until January 17, 1863 when he was compelled to resign on a Surgeon's certificate due to the wounds he sustained during the Battle of Perryville.

Following his resignation, Charles resumed his Law Practice in Evansville, Indiana.  He identified with the Democratic party, and was an active participant in its campaigns.   Although he was never a candidate for political office, he was repeatedly a "delegate at large" from Indiana to the Democratic National Conventions.

Following the election of President Grover Cleveland, Charles, was appointed as Minister to China on May 29, 1885.


Charles H. Denby while Minister to China

Denby's stay in China, covered three Presidential administrations and part of a fourth.  His career as Minister to China was marked by the unbroken confidence of the Chinese authorities.  To him, more than to any other foreign representative, they turned in their problems and difficulties, and by his advice they were largely guided in their relations with other powers.  He was one of the few foreigners to have conferred on him the “Order of the Golden Dragon” an order of great antiquity and distinguished honor which fell only to the greatest men of the Chinese empire.  The most important event to transpire during his tenure as Minister was the Chinese-Japanese war.  Denby took a prominent part in the peace negotiation, acting as a representative of Japan while our minister in Japan represented China.  Their preliminary talks led to a formal negotiation for peace.

During his stay in China, Denby wrote the following response to an inquisition about his time as Lieutenant Colonel of the Indiana 42nd Infantry Regiment:

The following is a letter from Col. Denby to Capt. S. F. Horrall:

U. S. Delegation at Peking China
Charles Denby, Minister
 
June 12, 1892


Capt. S. F. Horrall, Washington, Ind.

SIR AND COMRADE:  I can not write of the 42d Regiment Ind. Vols. without praising it.  It was a splendid body of men, - were disciplined, gentlemanly, properly drilled and steady and brave in action.  It was the easiest regiment in the world to get along with.  I loved it and all its members, and as far as I know, it repaid me with absolute devotion.  I write this to you from Peking, China.


Respectfully,


Charles Denby, Minister
 
After thirteen years of service, he tendered his resignation to President McKinley in August of 1898.  

In September of 1898, Denby was appointed as a member of the commission to inquire into the conduct of the war with Spain.  Charles was especially well thought of by President William McKinley.  The two were in close consultation in 1899 and 1900 over the Philippines and Boxer trouble during which time he was appointed as a member of the Philippine Commission.  


Denby was able to draw a pension for his service to the Union during the Civil War.


Pension paper for Colonel Charles H. Denby


Charles returned home to Evansville early in the year 1900, where he resumed his law practice and devoted himself to literary studies.  An acquaintance of Denby's, John Fendrich of the Fendrich Cigar Company, chose to name a cigar after him.  Charles never accepted any royalties for use of his name because he thought the brand wouldn’t last, much less sell.  This cigar is still in production today and is manufactured by the National Cigar Corporation in Frankfort, Indiana under the name “Charles Denby Invincibles.”


Inside label from an old Charles Denby cigar box



Advertisement for Charles Denby Invincibles


Current band for Charles Denby Invincibles

Charles lived an additional 39 years following the end of the Civil War.  On January 13, 1904, Charles was in Jamestown, New York for a speaking engagement, when he was suddenly stricken with heart failure.  He battled the illness all night but finally succumbed to death around 8:00 a.m.  His body was returned to his home of Evansville, Indiana where he was buried in Oak Hill Cemetery.



Grave of Charles H. Denby


Here's my relation to Charles:

Charles Harvey Denby (1830 - 1904)
is your 2nd cousin 6x removed
Nathaniel Denby (1798 - 1855)
Father of Charles Harvey
Jonathan Denby (1761 - 1805)
Father of Nathaniel
Nathaniel Denby (1730 - 1780)
Father of Jonathan
Nathan Denby (1750 - )
Son of Nathaniel
Thomas Denby ( - 1826)
Son of Nathan
Susan Ann Denby (1810 - 1834)
Daughter of Thomas
John Thomas Stokes (1825 - 1867)
Son of Susan Ann
John Stokes (1850 - 1882)
Son of John Thomas
Edward Stokes (1875 - 1961)
Son of John
Selby Edward Stokes (1910 - 1997)
Son of Edward
Selby Edward "Stokey" Stokes Jr. (1946 - )
Son of Selby Edward
Chip Stokes
You are the son of Selby


An interesting side note:   Charles Denby's son, also named Charles Denby was also a United States Representative to China.  Another son, Edwin Denby, served as the 42nd United States Secretary of the Navy.

Edwin Denby

Edwin was born in Evansville, Indiana on February 18, 1870.  He attended public school until the late 1880's when he accompanied his father to China.  He worked in the maritime customs service from 1887 to 1894.   He then returned to the United States and enrolled in college at the University of Michigan, where he studied law and played football.


Edwin Denby on the 1896 University of Michigan Football team

At the outbreak of the Spanish-American War, Edwin volunteered to serve in the United State Navy. He was a gunner’s mate third class aboard the U.S.S “Yosemite”.   Following the conflict, he was honorably discharged August 23, 1898.   Edwin was elected to the Michigan State House of Representatives in 1903.  In 1904, he was elected as a Republican from Michigan's 1st congressional district to the 59th, 60th and 61st Congresses, serving from March 4, 1905, to March 3, 1911. Denby served as chairman of the United States House Committee on Naval Affairs.

In the 1910 General Election, Edwin was defeated by Democrat Frank E. Doremus and resumed his law practice in Detroit.  Edwin Denby enlisted as a Private in the United States Marine Corps in 1917 when the United States entered into World War I.  He achieved the rank of Major and was discharged in 1919.



Edwin Denby in uniform

When Warren G. Harding became President in March 1921, he appointed Denby as Secretary of the Navy. During the crisis of mail robberies in 1921, Denby issued orders that Marines should be put in mail trucks and rail cars as protectors of the U.S. Mails.  In his stirring order "To the Men of the Mail Guard", Denby impressed upon his former service the importance of the high duty entrusted to them: "If two Marines are covered by a robber, neither must put up his hands, but both must immediately go for their guns. One may die, but the other will get the robber, and the mail will get through. When our Corps goes in as guards over the mail, that mail must be delivered, or there must be a Marine dead at the post of duty. There can be no compromise..." Within days, the robberies stopped, and there was not a single delivery of the mails disrupted while Marines stood the watch.


Edwin Denby shaking hands with his predecessor, Josephus Daniels

Edwin Denby while serving as Secretary of the Navy


Denby was forced to resign in 1924 following the Teapot Dome Scandal, a scandal that involved the misappropriation of naval oil reserves.   Denby was persuaded by Interior Secretary Albert Fall to transfer oil leases controlled by the Navy to the Department of the Interior.  Fall later sold the leases to his friends, hastening public awareness of the Teapot Dome scandal.  History has shown his innocence.  His actions in signing control of the oil leases over to the Secretary of the Interior were a result of concerns that the Navy would misuse the oil reserves.  He seems to have genuinely thought that he was protecting the oil reserves and the people's ownership of them.  Following his resignation, Edwin returned home to Detroit where he resumed his law practice.   He died just days before his 59th birthday on February 8, 1929.

Below is Edwin Denby's Obituary from the Ellensburg Daily Record, February 8, 1929:

EDWIN DENBY, FORMER NAVY AIDE, IS DEAD
Heart Attack Is Fatal to Man Who Resigned in Oil Scandal.
{By The Associated Press.}
   Detroit, Feb. 8. - Edwin Denby, former secretary of the navy and one of the figures whose political careers were abruptly terminated by the Teapot Dome scandal, died at his home in the Whittier apartments here this morning. Death resulted from a heart attack.
   Following his resignation from the cabinet, the "sea going secretary of the navy" as he was termed, returned to Detroit and resumed his banking, industrial and legal activities.
   Denby arose as usual shortly before 8 o'clock this morning but complained of feeling ill. A physician was summoned but before he could arrive the former navy secretary was dead.
   After riding the crest of a wave of accomplishments that carried him to the cabinet of President Harding, Edwin Denby was drowned politically in the flood of oil scandal that boiled from the naval oil leases at Teapot Dome.
   One of the most popular men ever to sit as a member of an American president's cabinet, Denby virtually was compelled to resign the secretaryship of the navy in 1924 as part of the cabinet clean-up demanded when the country became aroused over the leases which led to the indictment for the conspiracy of Albert B. Fall, former secretary of the interior, and the oil men, Edward Doheny and Harry F. Sinclair.
Innocence is Claimed
   Unfortunate acquiesance rather than deliberate participation was the most for which Denby was blamed. He always insisted that his part in the leasing of the naval oil reserves was proper and for the best interests of the country.
   "Had I not taken the action I did," he said in a public address after he had resigned from the cabinet, "I would have been false to my trust and culpably negligent in the performance of my duties."
   Detroit, Denby's home town, long will remember Denby's return from Washington after he had quitted the cabinet with the gossip and condemnation of a nation sounding in his ears. He was feted as a hero, a day of celebration being climaxed by a great public banquet at which representative citizens sat and by their presence and by their words bespoke complete confidence in him.

Marines Express Confidence
   Tears glistened in the Denby eyes as he heard eulogistic words spoken that night. He all but broke down when three members of the Marine Corps - the branch of the service in which he enlisted as a private and rose to be a majority - walked up to him unannounced, saluted, spoke a few words of regard and confidence, turned on their heels, and marched out of the banquet hall.
   Whatever the nation may have thought, Denby never lost the esteem and faith of his townspeople. He had been out of the cabinet only a few months when he was chosen chairman of a $5,000,000 building program campaign of the Y.M.C.A.  He resumed his banking, industrial and legal connections and was strongly urged as a candidate for the United States senate.
   Denby's service to his country was full and varied. It ran the gamut from "gob" in the navy and "Devil Dog" in the Marine Corps to head of the navy department. His career, begun in his home state of Indiana, carried him to China, through the University of Michigan Law School, to fame as a Wolverine football star, to the decks of the U.S.S. Yosemite during the Spanish-American war, the Michigan legislature, to the national house of representatives, to important positions in Detroit's motor industry and to the cabinet.
   Denby was born in Evansville, Ind., Feb. 18, 1870, the son of Charles and Martha Fitch Denby. His father for many years was United States minister to China.



Edwin Denby is buried in Elmwood Cemetery in Detroit, Michigan.


Grave of Edwin Denby

Back of Edwin Denby's Grave Marker

Here's my relation to Edwin:

Edwin Denby (1870 - 1929)
is your 3rd cousin 5x removed
Charles Harvey Denby (1830 - 1904)
Father of Edwin
Nathaniel Denby (1798 - 1855)
Father of Charles Harvey
Jonathan Denby (1761 - 1805)
Father of Nathaniel
Nathaniel Denby (1730 - 1780)
Father of Jonathan
Nathan Denby (1750 - )
Son of Nathaniel
Thomas Denby ( - 1826)
Son of Nathan
Susan Ann Denby (1810 - 1834)
Daughter of Thomas
John Thomas Stokes (1825 - 1867)
Son of Susan Ann
John Stokes (1850 - 1882)
Son of John Thomas
Edward Stokes (1875 - 1961)
Son of John
Selby Edward Stokes (1910 - 1997)
Son of Edward
Selby Edward "Stokey" Stokes Jr. (1946 - )
Son of Selby Edward
Chip Stokes
You are the son of Selby

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