War period signature with rank
Wounded 3 times during the Civil War
United States Attorney General
(1820-91) Born in Charlestown, Mass., he graduated from Harvard in 1838, and Harvard Law School in 1840. He was admitted to the bar in Franklin Country where he practiced law from 1841-49. Devens had a very notable antebellum career as a lawyer, Massachusetts State Senator, U.S. Marshal, orator, and U.S. Attorney General. Forced to participate in the return of an escaped slave to his owner while serving as marshal, he attempted to purchase, unsuccessfully, the bondsman's liberty with his own funds. Immediately upon President Lincoln's call for volunteers, Devens, a militia brigadier, offered his services, and on on April 16, 1861, Devens gave an impassioned speech at Mechanics Hall in Worcester to a large crowd where he called upon the young men of Worcester to rise and go with him to rescue Washington. Shortly afterwards he was mustered in as Major of the 3rd Battalion of Massachusetts Rifles, a 90 days unit. Devens was later commissioned Colonel of the 15th Massachusetts Infantry and fought at Ball's Bluff, where a uniform button saved his life when he was struck by a rifle ball and wounded. Promoted to Brigadier General of volunteers on April 15, 1862, he commanded a brigade at the battle of Seven Pines during the 1862 Virginia Peninsular campaign, and was again wounded. At the battle of Fredericksburg, Devens commanded a brigade of the 6th Army Corps, and at Chancellorsville, where he was wounded a third time, he directed a division in General O.O. Howard's 11th Army Corps. According to a report by General Steward L. Woodford, who served with him, General Devens remounted his horse, stayed with his men, and did not go to the hospital until his men had bivouacked. Upon his return to duty, he commanded a division of the Army of the James 1864-65, distinguishing himself at the battle of Cold Harbor, Va., while commanding the 3rd Division, 18th Army Corps in General Ulysses S. Grant's Overland Campaign. During the final stages of the Siege of Petersburg, he commanded the 3rd Division of the 24th Army Corps. His troops were the first to occupy Richmond, Va., after its capture in April 1865. Devens remained in the army for a year as commander of the Military District of Charleston, South Carolina, before mustering out of the army and returning home. He later served as the fifth Commander-in-Chief of the Grand Army of the Republic from 1873–75, and was also a veteran companion of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States. He served as a Judge of the Massachusetts Superior Court, 1867-73, and was an Associate Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Court, 1873-77. He served as the United States Attorney General, 1877-81, in the cabinet of President Rutherford B. Hayes.
War Period Signature with Rank: 6 7/8 x 2, in ink, Yours Respty., Chas. Devens, Brig. Gen. U.S. Vols., Comdg. 3d Div., 24 Army Corps. Age toning.