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General Charles Young

History Makers

(1864 - 1922)

Charles Young

(1864 – 1922)

General Charles Young

Charles Young was born in 1864 into slavery to Gabriel Young and Arminta Bruen in Mays Lick, near Maysville, Kentucky. However, his father escaped from slavery early in 1865, crossing the Ohio River to Ripley, Ohio, and enlisting in the Fifth Regiment of Colored Heavy Artillery near the end of the American Civil War. His service earned Gabriel and his wife their freedom, which was guaranteed by the 13th Amendment after the war.

Charles Young graduated from high school in Ripley, Ohio at the top of his class at the young age of 16. After graduation, Charles became a teacher and went and taught at an all-black high school also located in Ripley. He was the third African-American graduate of the West Point Military Academy, the first African American U.S. national park superintendent, first African American military attaché, first African American to achieve the rank of colonel in the United States Army, and highest-ranking African American officer in the regular army until his death.

Later in his life, he returned to his educator roots and taught Latin, Greek, French, Spanish and German as well as Military Science at Wilberforce University in Ohio. Charles Young was promoted posthumously to Brigadier General on February 11, 2020, by Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear. General Charles Young was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

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