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CAPTAIN CHARLES E. CLARK

(1843-1922)


In terms of naval history, Capt. Charles E. Clark is most known for as the Commanding Officer of the USS Oregon during its dash from the Pacific to the Caribbean to strengthen Admiral Sampson's fleet and during the Battle of Santiago.

Charles Edgar Clark was born on August 10, 1843 in Bradford, Vermont. As the young Clark grew up, he became interested in military history reading about famous military figures such as Hannibal, Washington, Napoleon, and others. Originally, Clark had the desire to become a professional soldier and was seeking an appointment to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Unfortunately for the young Clark, West Point did not have any vacancies, but the Naval Academy at Annapolis did, so Clark took the opportunity and enrolled. Clark reported to the Naval Academy on September 29, 1860, and commenced school on the USS Constitution which at the time was a serving as a school ship for the Academy. A year later, the American Civil War broke out and Clark found himself is the midst of a war.

Midshipman Clark was assigned to and served aboard the USS Ossipee, a wooden, bark rigged, screw sloop throughout the Civil War. Clark soon received his baptism under fire during the Mississippi River campaign under Admiral Farragut. In this capacity, Clark served with distinction.

After the war, Clark rose through the ranks rapidly and attained the rank of Captain in 1896 and was given command of the USS Monterey. While still commanding the Monterey, Captain Clark received orders to proceed to San Francisco and assume command of the battleship USS Oregon, whose commanding officer had been ordered to the hospital.

It was while commanding Oregon that Clark received his fame. Responsible for commanding one of the United States's most powerful warships, Clark did not disappoint the top navy brass. He led the Oregon through some of the most treacherous conditions that challenged his ship, his crew, and himself. In the end, he accomplished his mission, joined Admiral Sampson's Fleet and reported ready for action.

The action with the Spanish fleet came soon, and when the battle was joined Oregon led the way, chasing down and engaging each of the Spanish ships until they had all been ran aground. Clark had indeed taken command of an fine ship manned by an outstanding crew.

After the battle, Captain Clark had fallen seriously ill with tropical fever. The events and stress of the voyage and the recent battle with the Spanish fleet had taken their toll on the 54 year old commander. He was rowed out to a departing ship by his officers and cheered by his crew as a final gesture.

Clark was promoted to Rear Admiral during his tour as the Governor of the Naval home in Philadelphia from 1901 to 1904. His final duty was as president of the Examining and Retiring Board, until he himself retired on August 04, 1905.

Charles Clark was married to the former Louisa Davis on April 08, 1869 and had two daughters. After retirement Clark continued his interest in history, visiting many countries abroad. Rear Admiral Charles Clark passed away at his daughter's Long Beach home on October 01, 1922 at the age of 79. His body was transported to Arlington National Cemetery, and there, he was buried with full military honors.

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