Charles Irving Wilson

Charles Irving Wilson was born on May 3, 1837, in Georgetown, District of Columbia, to William Wilson and Hulda Armstrong. His father was a carpenter with an estate valued at $30,000. His mother died on April 11, 1847, in Washington, D.C.

Wilson enrolled at the University of Virginia in 1855 to study mathematics, natural philosophy, chemistry, and surgery. In March 2, 1856, he and several dozen classmates received a leave of absence to attend the inauguration of President James Buchanan. Wilson left UVA in 1857, and by 1860 he had become a practicing physician in Washington, D.C.

Wilson remained loyal to the Union during the Civil War, and he entered the army as an assistant surgeon in May 1861. He was stationed at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, until December 1862, when the army assigned him to the cavalry in the Army of the Potomac. He served as a surgeon for the 2nd Cavalry Regiment, surgeon-in-chief for the Cavalry Reserve Brigade, and surgeon-in-chief of the First Cavalry Division. He became a brevet captain and then a major for his service in the battles of Todd Tavern and Yellow Tavern in Virginia.

Wilson stayed in the army after the war and received an honorable discharge when the army reorganized in 1870. He married Gertrude Laura Houston on January 18, 1866, in Washington, D.C., and they had two children together: Charles Stevenson Houston, born 1866; and Gertrude Truxton, born 1880. In 1875, Wilson reenlisted in the United States Army and became a major in the Pay Department. He served in the Department of Texas from 1875 until 1881, when the army transferred him to New York. He spent the 1880s and 1890s stationed in Omaha, Nebraska, and St. Louis, Missouri. He received a promotion to lieutenant colonel in 1898 and to assistant paymaster general in 1899. Wilson retired from the army on May 3, 1901, and he spent several months in 1902 traveling out of the country. In 1904, while living in retirement, Wilson received the rank of brigadier general.

Wilson lived in New York until his death on September 22, 1913. His wife Gertrude followed in 1923, and they were both buried at Arlington National Cemetery.


Charles Irving Wilson to Lorenzo Thomas, August 20, 1864

UVA Alumni News Obituary for Charles Irving Wilson, September 17, 1913

Staunton Daily News “Neglected Alumni” October 14, 1913, and UVA’s Response in UVA Alumni News, October 29, 1913

Name:Wilson, Charles Irving
Alternative names:
  • Soldier
  • UVA (Union)
U.S. Army Medical DepartmentF&S
2nd Regiment U.S. CavalryF&S
Branch of service:Army
Muster In1861-05-28
Muster Out1870
Muster Out1901-05-03Retired
Residence at UVA:Washington, DC
UVA Begin Year:1855
UVA End Year:1857
Residence at enlistment:
Rank In:Assistant Surgeon
Rank Out:
Highest rank achieved:Brigadier General
Birth date:1837-05-03
Birth date certainty:Certain
Birth place:Georgetown, DC
Death date:1913-09-22
Death place:New York, NY
Causes of death:
Person 1Relation TypePerson 2
Wilson, Charles Irvingparent ofWilson, Charles Stevenson Houston
Wilson, Charles Irvingparent ofWilson, Gertrude Truxton
Wilson, Gertrude Laurawife ofWilson, Charles Irving

Compiled Service Records for Charles I. Wilson, RG 94, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C.; United States Census, 1850, 1860, and 1880, and 1910; New York State Census, 1905; Charles I. Wilson, Passport Application; U.S. National Cemetery Interment Control Forms, 1928-1962; New York, Spanish-American War Military and Naval Service Records, 1898-1902, accessed through; "UVA Student Catalogue," Jefferson's University: Early Life (;  Letters to the Adjutant General’s Office, 1861-1870, accessed through; Obituary for Charles Irving Wilson, University of Virginia Alumni News, September 17, 1913; William H. Powell and Edward Shippen, Officers of the Army and Navy (regular) who served in the Civil War (1892); Franics Heitman, Historical Register and Dictionary of the United States Army (1903).