Biographical Profile of Brigadier General Charles Young
Brigadier General Charles Young was a distinguished army officer, cartographer, teacher, and soldier-diplomat who pioneered the entrance of African-Americans into fields that were previously closed to them. He was born in Mayslick, Kentucky on March 12, 1864, one year before the end of the Civil War. He moved with his parents to Ohio at the age of six months and graduated from the integrated Ripley High School in 1881. When he entered the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1884, Young was the ninth African-American to be admitted, and the third and last to graduate until nearly half a century later.
After his graduation from West Point in 1889, Lieutenant Young served with the Ninth U.S. Cavalry on the Western frontier. In 1894 he was assigned by the War Department to teach military science and tactics at Wilberforce University in Ohio. Young commanded the 9th Ohio Volunteer Infantry on the home front during the Spanish-American War in 1898 and served in the Philippine Islands during the Philippine War as a captain and troop commander. While serving at the Presidio of San Francisco, Captain Young was appointed the first Black national park superintendent at Sequoia National Park in 1903. He was subsequently appointed as military attaché to Haiti and the Dominican Republic in 1904, the first African American to serve as such. In addition to gathering intelligence and drafting maps, Young reported to the War Department on Haitian society and government and wrote a book titled Military Morale of Nations and Races (1912).
After a second tour in the Philippine Islands during its occupation, he returned to the United States and served at Fort D.A. Russell in Wyoming. From 1912 to 1915 newly promoted Major Young served as military attaché to Liberia, where he helped to reorganize the Liberian Frontier Force to insure the continued sovereignty of that country. In 1916 he was awarded the Spingarn Medal by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) for his exceptional work in Liberia. Young served as a squadron commander in the 10th Cavalry Regiment during the punitive expedition against Pancho Villa in Mexico from 1916 to 1917, where he was promoted to lieutenant colonel. After redeploying to the U.S. Young established an officer training school African-American soldiers at Fort Huachuca, Arizona.
In 1917, Young was medically retired and promoted to colonel. He was recalled to active duty in 1919 and accepted a second appointment as military attaché to Liberia. Colonel Young died and was buried in Lagos, Nigeria on January 8, 1922, and was reinterred at Arlington National Cemetery in 1923.
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