Charles Key

silhouette of man in hat in frame, with golden crossed sabers, 10, and H at the bottom.

NPS/ E. Glover & K. Pontius

Quick Facts

Charles Key had a long military career, but it seemed to have gotten off to a rocky start. Key was a private in the 111th US Colored Troops during the Civil War, and deserted his troop on December 28, 1864, in Nashville, TN. A few days later, on January 2, 1865, he was apprehended and confined in military prison for three or four months. His pay was stopped for 90 days, and he rejoined his troop in May, 1865. Without any personal records, we do not know the story behind Key’s desertion, and have to rely on military documents.

Just a year after he mustered out of the 111th USCT, Key joined the newly formed 10th Cavalry, Troop E. He spent the rest of his military career in Troop E, including time in Arizona, during the military's Geronimo Campaign. While in southern Arizona, Key carved his name into a stone monument honoring President James Garfield. By the end of his time in the Army, Key was an Orderly Sergeant, and his character was regularly listed as “excellent.”

Based on his enlistment records, we know Key was stationed throughout the United States: 

  • Athens, AL 1864
  • Nashville, TN 1865 (military prison for deserting)
  • Nashville, TN 1866 (muster out of 111th USCT)
  • Memphis, TN 1867 (10th Cavalry, Troop E)
  • Ft. Sill, OK 1872 (10th Cavalry, Troop E)
  • San Felipe, TX 1877 (10th Cavalry, Troop E)
  • Ft. Concho, TX 1882 (10th Cavalry, Troop E)
  • Ft. Grant, AZ 1887 (10th Cavalry, Troop E)
  • Ft. Trumbull, CT 1892 (10th Cavalry, Troop E)
  • New London, CT 1892 (10th Cavalry, Troop E)
Nothing else is known about Key, despite his military career of 25 years. If you have any information about Charles Key, please share it with us. Until then, this summary, and others like it, will be incomplete and imbalanced.

Chiricahua National Monument

Last updated: January 31, 2019