CHARLES HEYWOOD, USMC (DECEASED)
Major General Charles Heywood, ninth Commandant of the Marine Corps, was born in Waterville, Maine, on 3 October 1839. He was appointed a second lieutenant in the Marine Corps from New York, on 5 April 1858. During that year he was stationed at the Marine Barracks, Washington, D.C., and at Brooklyn, New York.
While on duty in Brooklyn he served in the Quarantine riots at Staten Island, New York. He performed special duty on the Niagara and later on board the St. Louis, of the Home Squadron, the ship seeking filibusters in Central America. He was invalided from Aspinwall (Colon), in January 1860, and later was ordered to the sloop of war Cumberland, flagship of the Squadron of Observation at Vera Cruz, Mexico. In March 1861, he returned to duty on board the Cumberland and with that vessel took part in the destruction of the Norfolk Navy Yard during the Civil War.
In May 1861, 2dLt Heywood was promoted to first lieutenant, and as such landed with the Marines at Hatteras Inlet, where he was present at the capture of Forts Clark and Hatteras. He was advanced to captain in November of that year, and during the winter of 1861-62 participated actively in a number of boat expeditions in the James River.
In the fight between the Cumberland and the Merrimac, in March 1862, his conduct was particularly noteworthy while commanding the after gun deck division, firing the last gun in the fight and saving himself by jumping overboard as the Cumberland went down with her flag flying. He was most favorably mentioned for his gallant conduct and received the brevet rank of major for his services during the engagement.
For some time afterwards he was actively employed, both on shore and at sea in search for the notorious raider Alabama, until he applied for duty on board the flagship Hartford. He was ordered to that vessel as Fleet Marine Officer of the West Gulf Squadron.
Major Heywood served on shore at Pensacola and was on board the Hartford in the battle of Mobile Bay, where he received the brevet rank of lieutenant colonel for gallant and meritorious services. During that engagement he had charge of two nine-inch guns. His services during the Civil War thus secured for him two brevet ranks for distinguished gallantry in the presence of the enemy.
From 1865 to 1867 he performed duty on board various ships, serving as Admiral Farragut's Fleet Marine Officer on the European Station and later in the same capacity in the North Atlantic Squadron. During this period he also served for a time at Washington, Norfolk and Brooklyn. In November 1876, he attained regular rank of major to which he had been brevetted more than ten years before, and was ordered to command the Marine Barracks, Washington, D.C.
During the serious labor riots of the summer of 1877, Maj Heywood commanded a battalion of Marines at Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Reading, Pennsylvania. He was honorably mentioned by General Hancock, U.S. Army, who was in general command, and received thanks from the Navy Department for his services. His next years of duty carried him to widely separated posts--Mare Island, California, and Brooklyn, New York.
In April 1885, he organized, within twenty-four hours from the time of the order, a battalion of 250 Marines for duty on the Isthmus of Panama to open the transit. Subsequently under his command on the Isthmus were 800 Marines in addition to a strong detachment of U.S. Navy and the artillery. For his arduous services the admiral commanding asked Maj Heywood to "receive his grateful acknowledgements."
Major Heywood was promoted to lietuenant colonel on 9 March 1888, and on 30 January 1891 was appointed Colonel Commandant of the Marine Corps. By special acts of Congress he was promoted to brigadier general in March 1899 and to major general in July 1902. He was the first Marine to hold the rank of major general.
The energy, experience and training which he had shown and obtained in his early days in the Marine Corps were fully brought into play from the moment he assumed command of the Corps. At that time the Marine Corps consisted of 75 officers and 2,100 enlisted men, which gradually rose during his tenure of office until at the time of his retirement in 1903, it had reached the total of 278 officers and 7,532 enlisted personnel, the highest strength up to that point.
He kept in mind the problem of more closely associating the Corps with the Navy so that the work of the two could be in the closet harmony. He was the first to establish a regular system of examinations for officers for promotion and set up the system of officers' schools, which has continued with slight interruption since then.
By increasing the efficiency of the Corps he tried to demonstrate to the Navy how absolutely essential it was as an auxiliary to the naval service. Under his administration the number of Marine Corps posts were increased from twelve to twenty-one. There was scarcely a regular post at which MajGen Heywood was not able to provide new barracks or officers' quarters.
He caused the regular system of target practice to be established and adopted good conduct medals for the betterment of the discipline in the Marine Corps. The declaration of war with Spain found the Marine Corps prepared.
Major General Heywood closed a most distinguished career of over forty-five years as a commissioned officer in the Marine Corps, when on 3 October 1903, in accordance with law, having attained the age of 64 years, he was placed on the retired list.
His death occurred in Washington, D.C., on 26 February 1915, and his remains were interred in Arlington National Cemetery.
Commandants of the Marine Corps