Charles M. Stedman served North Carolina in many capacities throughout his life but is best remembered for his distinction as the last Confederate veteran to serve in the United States Congress. Born in 1841 in Pittsboro to Nathan Stedman, a politically active merchant, young Charles attended school at Pittsboro Academy and Donaldson Academy before attending the University of North Carolina where he excelled at his studies and graduated just after the first shots of the Civil War.
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Stedman soon thereafter enlisted in the Confederate Army, beginning service as a private with the Fayetteville Independent Light Infantry and participating with that organization as part of the First North Carolina Regiment at the Battle of Big Bethel on June 10, 1861. He then became a lieutenant in the 44th North Carolina and was later promoted to regimental major. In that capacity, Stedman took part in every major campaign of the Army of Northern Virginia and was wounded three times. Stedman was one of twelve North Carolinians who fought at the first engagement in Bethel and who also were present for the surrender at Appomattox.
After the war, Stedman returned to civilian life and began to teach in Chatham County while also practicing law. He married Catherine de Rosset Wright of Wilmington and later moved to that town where he established a successful legal practice. Stedman was a staunch Democrat and became involved in politics. In 1880 he was a delegate to the Democratic National Convention. In 1884 he was elected lieutenant governor and ran unsuccessfully for Governor in 1888 and 1903. Stedman moved from Wilmington to Asheville in 1891 and then to Greensboro in 1898. In addition to his political career, Stedman served as president of the North Carolina Bar Association, director of the North Carolina Railroad, and trustee of the University of North Carolina.
Stedman was elected to the United States House of Representatives in 1910 and was re-elected nine times, serving until his death in 1930 at age ninety, by which time he was the last lawmaker who had served in the Confederate army. Stedman died in office and was returned to North Carolina to be buried at Cross Creek Cemetery in Fayetteville.
William S. Powell, ed., Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, V, 431—sketch by Max R. Williams
Biographical Directory of the United States Congress online:
Samuel A. Ashe, ed., Biographical History of North Carolina, III (1906)
Charles Manly Stedman Papers, University of North Carolina, online finding aid: http://www.lib.unc.edu/mss/inv/s/Stedman,Charles_Manly.html