Charles Seaforth Stewart was born at sea, April 11, 1823, on board the American ship Thames, in N. Lat. 8 degrees, 30 minutes, W. Long. 134 degrees of the Pacific Ocean.
He was the only son of the Reverend Charles Samuel Stewart, missionary to the Hawaiian Islands, and of Harriet Bradford Tiffany (Stewart). He was the great-grandson of Colonel Charles Stewart of New Jersey, Commissary General of Issues of the Army of the Revolution and member of the Continental Congress.
His ancestors were Scotch-Irish; Stewarts of Garlies and Gortlee. The father of Colonel Charles Stewart having resided upon the family demesne of Gortlee, Donegal County, Ireland. Harriet Bradford Tiffany came also of Revolutionary stock, her forefathers having landed on the Massachusetts’ coast in 1663.
Stewart’s boyhood was passed mostly at Cooperstown, Otsego County, New York, and at Princeton, New Jersey, where he received his classical education at Edgehill School.
When some seventeen years of age, with his father he made the three years’ European cruise as captain’s clerk aboard the U. S. S. Brandywine.
Soon after his return to the United States he was appointed a cadet at the U. S. Military Academy, from New Jersey, entering September 1, 1842, and being graduated July 7, 1846, at the head of his class, numbering fifty-nine members, the largest class that had up to that time been graduated from the Academy. (US Military Academy, Annual Reunion, 1904)
“No single group of men at West Point – or possibly any academy – has been so indelibly written into history as the class of 1846. The names are legendary …”
“Thomas ‘Stonewall’ Jackson, George B. McClellan, Ambrose Powell Hill, Darius Nash Couch, George Edward Pickett, Cadmus Marcellus Wilcox, and George Stoneman.”
Graduating just as the Mexican War began, fifty-three of the fifty-nine member of this class (the largest in the Academy’s history to that time) fought in Mexico. Four of them lost their lives there. Two more were killed fighting Indians in the 1850s. (Waugh)
Ten members of that class became Confederate generals; twelve became Union generals; three of the Confederates and one of the Unionists were killed or mortally wounded in action during the Civil War. (CivilWarTalk)
“The class fought in three wars, produced twenty generals, and left the nation a lasting legacy of bravery, brilliance, and bloodshed.” (Waugh)
Stewart “was graduated from US Military Academy and promoted in the Army as Second Lieutenant, Corps of Engineers, July 1, 1846, and passed through all the intermediate grades to that of Colonel …”
“… receiving the brevet of Lieutenant Colonel, February 25, 1865, ‘for long, faithful and efficient services’; and declining the brevet of Colonel, March 13, 1865, ‘for gallant and meritorious services during the Rebellion.’”
On April 15, 1857, (he) married at Buffalo, NY, Cecilia Sophia DeLouville Tardy, granddaughter of Alexis Evstaphieve, Russian Consul General at New York. Mrs. Stewart, born October 22, 1836, died at San Francisco, Cal., November 24, 1886.”
“Three children were born of this marriage—Charles Seymour Stewart, April 12, 1858; died, February 8, 1893. Cecil Stewart, born April 12, 1864, and now a Captain in the Fourth Regiment of Cavalry. Cora Stewart, born March 15, 1873; died, February 1, 1876.”
“Stewart was retired from active service, at his own request, September 16, 1886, having served forty years as a Commissioned Officer. He was appointed a Brigadier General U. S. Army, retired, in accordance with the act of Congress, approved April 23, 1904.”
After retiring from active service, Stewart went to Cooperstown, New York, where still lived kinsmen and friends of his boyhood.
Here he led a quiet life, interested in town and church and local charities, devoting time and labor to genealogical research in which he took a lively interest. He was a member of the Society of the Cincinnati, the Loyal Legion and the American Geographical Society.
“Living quietly (there) he has been a more than liberal giver to all worthy causes and many are those who have had their suffering relieved through the charity of this kindly man.”
“He was a devoted member of the Presbyterian Church, holding at his death as he had for many years the office of clerk of the session.”
“A week prior to his death General Stewart went to Siasconset where he had gone every summer for many years to spend a month. He had been in failing health for some time and his friends disliked to have him go away but he insisted and went.”
“He was accompanied on his journey and upon his arrival the hotel proprietor had a watchful eye to his welfare and occupied a room adjoining his. Friday night he was heard to raise from his bed and a moment or two after to fall.”
“Investigation showed that he had fallen through the low window near his bed to a small piazza, from that to the ground. It is probable that he received the fall on account of his feeble condition.”
“This occurred about two o’clock in the morning. He was conscious when found but died (July 21, 1904) a few hours afterward, probably from an internal hemorrhage.” (Cooperstown Republican; US Military Academy, Annual Reunion, 1904)
“It was peculiarly characteristic of Captain Stewart that he would never delegate to another what he could possibly perform himself, and he was indefatigable in all his official work.”
“It was this attention to detail, and unnecessary attention at times, and this unsparing although unassuming energy, that consumed his power and limited his ultimate service.” (US Military Academy, Annual Reunion, 1904)