Robert H. Chilton

Robert Hall Chilton (February 25, 1815 – February 18, 1879) was an officer in the U.S. Army and then a brigadier general in the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War. He served as Chief of Staff for the Army of Northern Virginia under Robert E. Lee for much of the war.

Robert Hall Chilton
Robert Hall Chilton.jpg
Robert H. Chilton
Born(1815-02-25)February 25, 1815
Loudoun County, Virginia
DiedFebruary 18, 1879(1879-02-18) (aged 63)
Columbus, Georgia
Allegiance United States of America
 Confederate States of America
Years of service United States Army 1837–1861
 Confederate States Army 1861–1865
RankUnion army maj rank insignia.jpg Major (USA)
Brigadier General (CSA)
Unit1st Regiment of Dragoons
Battles/warsMexican–American War
American Civil War
Spouse(s)Laura Ann Thomson Mason (1829–1911)
Other workPresident of the Columbus Manufacturing Company (1869‑79)


Chilton was born in Loudoun County, Virginia, to a prominent family. He was the son of William and Sarah (Powell) Chilton. He secured an appointment to the United States Military Academy and graduated 48th out of 57 cadets in the Class of 1837. Brevetted as a second lieutenant, he was assigned to the 1st Regiment of Dragoons for western frontier duty. On September 25, 1845, he married Laura Ann Thomson Mason (1829–1911) in New York City. The couple would have three children—Laura Mason, Emily Virginia, and Robert Lee Chilton. He served in Kansas, Texas and the Indian Territory. While fighting in a series of skirmishes with Osage Indians he also served as acting Quartermaster.

Promoted to captain in 1846 Chilton fought in the Mexican–American War, winning the brevet rank of major for gallantry in action at the Battle of Buena Vista. Under severe Mexican fire, he picked up the wounded Colonel Jefferson Davis and carried him to safety. He was assigned to administrative duty as a Paymaster with the rank of major in 1854; serving in various posts in Washington, D.C., New York City, Detroit, Michigan, and San Antonio, Texas.

Chilton was in Texas when he received word of the bombardment of Fort Sumter. He resigned his commission in the U.S. Army on April 29, 1861, and traveled home to Virginia. He enrolled in the Confederate service as an adjutant general with the rank of lieutenant colonel. He served on the staff of fellow Virginian Robert E. Lee, rising to chief of staff. He did not pen the famous Lost Order during the Maryland Campaign. The identity of the writer of the lost order that McClellan received from the field is yet to be identified. (See "Special Order 191-Ruse of War") Although nominated for brigadier general in October 1862 and despite firm support from General Lee, Chilton's appointment was not officially confirmed by the Confederate Congress until February 16, 1864, most likely due to repeated clashes with the Confederate Senate and with fellow officers, most notably John B. Magruder.

Following the Gettysburg Campaign, he served as inspector general for the Army of Northern Virginia for the rest of the war, with his headquarters in Richmond, Virginia. He rarely led troops in the field, with the exception of a successful attack in May 1864 when he led a small force of Virginia troops in routing Federal troops from the Army of the James that were raiding the important Richmond & Petersburg Railroad.

Following the cessation of hostilities in early 1865, Chilton returned to civilian life. He moved to Columbus, Georgia, where he became president of a local manufacturing company. He died of apoplexy in Columbus in 1879. He is buried in Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, Virginia.


The Major Robert H. Chilton monument in Chilton Park in Dodge City, Kansas, was unveiled May 28, 1931.

See alsoEdit


  • Eicher, John H., and David J. Eicher, Civil War High Commands. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2001. ISBN 978-0-8047-3641-1.
  • Evans, Clement A., Confederate Military History, Volume III, Atlanta, 1899.
  • Sifakis, Stewart. Who Was Who in the Civil War. New York: Facts On File, 1988. ISBN 978-0-8160-1055-4.
  • Heitman, Francis, Historical Register and Dictionary of the United States Army 1789-1903. Washington, U.S. Government Printing Office, 1903.
  • Warner, Ezra J. Generals in Gray: Lives of the Confederate Commanders. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1959. ISBN 978-0-8071-0823-9.
  • Burial Register, Hollywood Cemetery, Richmond, Virginia.

Further readingEdit

  • Robert H. Chilton Collection, Library of the Museum of the Confederacy, Richmond, Virginia.

External linksEdit