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Charles Denby Edit Profile

also known as Charles Harvey Denby

diplomat , lawyer

Colonel Charles Denby was a U.S. Union officer in the Civil War and diplomat.


Denby, Charles was born in 1830 in Mount Joy, Virginia, United States.


ith the attack on Fort Sumter marking the outbreak of the American Civil War, Denby raised a company of volunteer soldiers and guarded the powder magazine near Evansville, Indiana. On September 12, 1861, Denby was commissioned as the Lieutenant Colonel (second-in-command) of the 42nd Indiana Volunteer Infantry Regiment and mustered in at that rank on October 10, 1861. On October 1, 1862, Indiana Governor Oliver P. Morton commissioned Denby as Colonel of the newly formed 80th Indiana Volunteer Infantry Regiment. Denby was not mustered in at his new rank until October 21, 1862, so he was still serving with the 42nd Indiana when it took part in the Battle of Perryville Kentucky on October 8, 1862. It was there that Denby was twice wounded and had his horse killed under him. Colonel Denby officially took command of the 80th Indiana on or before November 22, 1862. In a letter to the army dated January 12, 1863.His resignation was accepted effective January 17, 1863, and he left the army based on a surgeon's certificate of disability.

After resignation, he resumed the practice of law in Evansville. Denby was active in the Democratic Party, and upon the election of Grover Cleveland as President, he was put forward for a post in the diplomatic service and on May 29, 1885, he was appointed Minister to China. Denby remained at the post through 1898—the United States' longest serving envoy to China to date—through the administrations of Cleveland's first term, Republican Benjamin Harrison, Cleveland's second term. He resigned a little more than a year into the administration of Republican William McKinley, and would be succeeded by Edwin H. Conger.

Upon his return to the U.S. in September 1898, Denby was appointed a member of the commission to inquire into the conduct of the Spanish–American War. Even before the adjournment of that commission, he was made a member of the first commission to the Philippines (the Schurman Commission), together with Admiral George Dewey, General Elwell Stephen Otis, Jacob Gould Schurman, the President of Cornell University, and Professor Dean Conant Worcester, of the University of Michigan.


  • Other Interests

    After retirement from official life, Denby settled down at his old home at Evansville, Indiana, and devoted himself to literary labors, study, and the pleasures of home life.


Nathaniel Denby

Sarah Jane Harvey

Mathew Harvey

Martha Fitch