The Story of Private Charles Whilden, The
Confederacy’s Most Unlikely Hero
For forty years, Charles Whilden (1824 – 1866) lived a life most noteworthy for a series of near misses. Repeatedly turned down for service in the Confederate Army, he did not enlist until the days when anyone capable of locomotion was brought to fill the ranks. He was then plunged into a regiment destined to see the worst of Grant’s brutal spring 1864 campaign. The aging, epileptic desk clerk from Charleston found himself plunged into some of the war’s most brutal killing fields at the Wilderness and Spotsylvania Court House. Chance placed him near a bend in the Confederate line – dubbed the Bloody Angle – that became the focal point of Grant’s massive offensive. There Charles Whilden performed an astounding feat of bravery foreign to anything he had accomplished in the past.
Gordon C. Rhea has produced a fascinating true tale that is both informative and easily read.