Charles Wheaton Abbot, Jr.

Charles Wheaton Abbot, Jr.

Early Life

Charles Wheaton Abbot, Jr. was born in Warren, Rhode Island on July 8th, 1860. He was the grandson of Commodore Joel Abbot and the son of Charles Wheaton Abbot who served as pay director of the U.S. Navy from 1856 to 1891. His mother was Ann Frances (Smith) Abbot.

Abbot's early education was at the public schools and at Mowry and Goff's English and Classical School in Providence. He was also educated at the English High School in Boston, Massachusetts.

Military Career

Abbot's military career began in 1877 when, at age 17, he enlisted in Company A of the 2nd Infantry Battalion of the Rhode Island Militia. He was promoted to sergeant the next year and was commissioned 1st lieutenant and commissary in 1879.

As the result of a competitive examination, Abbot was commissioned as a 2nd lieutenant in the 12th Infantry Regiment of the Regular Army on February 16th, 1881. In June of the same year he went west to the Arizona territory to serve with his regiment in the campaign against the Apaches.

Abbot was promoted to 1st lieutenant on September 1st, 1887 and served as regimental adjutant from May 13th, 1889 to May 13th, 1893. He later served as instuctor of international, constitutional and military law and engineering at the officer's school at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

In 1896 Abbot was detailed as an advisor and evaluator for the Rhode Island Militia. In this capacity he personally inspected each unit and training encampment of the Rhode Island Militia and made recommendations for improvements in its preparadness. He was promoted to captain on April 26th, 1898.

Spanish American War

In 1898 Rhode Island raised an infantry regiment for service in the Spanish American War. It was called the 1st Rhode Island Volunteer Infantry. Abbot was chosen to lead the regiment due to his prior active duty experience. He as commissioned colonel of volunteers when the regiment was mustered into federal service on May 10th, 1898.

The 1st Rhode Island never left the United States during its existance but was stationed in Virginia and South Carolina. The soldiers of the regiment nicknamed themselves the "Rough Walkers" and even made a medal with this title on it for veterans of the regiment.

Abbot, along with the regiment, was mustered out of volunteer service on March 30th, 1899 at Camp Alger, Virginia. At the time of his mustering out Abbot was in command of the 2nd Brigade of the 3rd Division. Abbot then reverted to his permanent Regular Army rank of captain.

In 1900 Abbot was re-assigned to the 12th Infantry and served in the Philippines. He was promoted to major in 1903 and retired the next year for disability incurred in the line of duty. He then reverted to his previous position as evaluator and advisor to the Rhode Island Militia.

Adjutant General of Rhode Island

In 1911 Abbot was elected by the Rhode Island General Assembly to a five year term as Adjutant General of Rhode Island with the rank of brigadier general. He was reelected twice in 1916 and 1921.

Abbot's tenure was significant in that it was during a time when state milita forces were being better trained and equipped so they could integrate sucessfully with the Regular Army in time of war. During the First World War 18 batteries of Coast Artillery and the 103rd Field Artillery Regiment were activated from Rhode Island. As the National Guard had been fully mobilized, Abbot had effectively no duties as Adjutant General. As a result, Abbot served as professor of military science for the officer training program at Brown University from 1917 - 1918. He was commissioned a colonel of infantry on the retired list in July 1918. After the war Abbot continued to serve as adjutant general until his death in 1923.

Abbot died in Warren, Rhode Island on November 29th, 1923 at the age of 63. He is buried in the Abbot family crypt in the same town.

General Information

Abbot's military medals included the Indian Campaign Medal, the Spanish War Service Medal, the Philippine Campaign Medal as well as the Rhode Island Militia Service Medal and the Rhode Island Spanish War Service Medal. It is undetermined if he was entitled to the Victory Medal for his service during the First World War.

Abbot was active in numerous hereditary and veterans organizations. These included the Regular Army and Navy Union, the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States (MOLLUS), the Sons of Veterans, the Sons of the American Revolution, the Society of the War of 1812, the United Spanish War Veterans and the American Legion. Photos of Abbot in uniform show him displaying the membership medals of these organizations alongside his miltary medals.

Abbot served as Rhode Island Department Commander for the Sons of Veterans in 1897. In 1909 he was also instrumental in forming Commodore Joel Abbot Camp 21 in Warren, Rhode Island as well as having it named for his grandfather.


Source - The primary source for this article is Abbot's entry in the National Cyclopedia of American Biography, Vol. XX, pg. 211.

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