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  • Writer's pictureJen Brilowski

Charles Chapman: Lincoln's Bodyguard

Charles Lucius Chapman was born in Tioga County, Pennsylvania on March 30, 1842. His father died soon after his death, his mother remarried, and the family moved to Wisconsin in about 1852, settling in the Plainfield area.

Charles Chapman later in life, undated, photo from

Like many able-bodied young men of the time, Chapman worked as a lumberman until the outbreak of the Civil War, when he enlisted and served for three years as a member of Company B, 32nd regiment. He lost an eye during his service and spent considerable time in convalescence camps and hospitals, but was committed to his duty. Two days after General Lee's surrender at Appomattox, he transferred to Company G, 14th Veterans' Reserve Corps. As part of this unit, he became one of President Abraham Lincoln's twelve bodyguards. On April 14, 1865, as one of the three remaining guards from the unit, he witnessed Lincoln's assassination from the rear of Ford's Theater. When President Lincoln died, Chapman was one of twelve Veteran Reserve Corps members selected to guard his casket.

After his discharge from the service, Chapman and his family lived in South Dakota and Minnesota, where he worked in a lumber mill, then as a barber. There are conflicting records about his marital status, but he was married at least once, likely twice, before coming to Stevens Point in 1911. He opened a barbershop on the south side and married Alma Reinhart from Linwood; they lived in a house on Algoma Street. He was also a proud member of the Odd Fellows.

In his later years, Charles suffered many of the normal maladies of old age, and after coping with bronchitis for nearly three years, he succumbed to the illness on August 19, 1919. He was survived by Alma and five sons.

Charles Chapman's grave marker at Forest Cemetery in Stevens Point, photo taken by Jen Brilowski

Private Charles Chapman's funeral was held in his home. He was then honored with a graveside

service by the Odd Fellows and laid to rest in Forest Cemetery.


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