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Clark, Meriwether L.

Born: 1809-01-10 Saint Louis, Missouri

Died: 1881-10-28 Frankfort, Kentucky

Meriwether L. Clark was a U.S. Army officer, state legislator, civil engineer, federal surveyor general, and Confederate brigadier general. The oldest child of William Clark of Lewis and Clark fame, Meriwether entered the U.S. Military Academy in July 1825, graduating in July 1830 twenty-third in a class of forty-two cadets. The War Department commissioned him as brevet second lieutenant of the U.S. Sixth Infantry, and assigned him to garrison duty at Jefferson Barracks, Missouri. Clark saw action during the Black Hawk War, as assistant adjutant general with the Illinois Volunteers from May to October 1832. On May 31, 1833, he resigned from the U.S. Army and returned to civil life. In January 1834, he married Abigail Churchill, with whom he would have seven children before her death in 1852. Meriwether and Abigail Clark settled in St. Louis, where Meriwether worked as an architect and civil engineer. The Italianate Church of St. Vincent de Paul was among his architectural designs. In 1836, Clark won election to the Missouri House of Representatives, and in 1840, he received appointment as St. Louis city engineer. He later served as recorder of the City Court. At the onset of the Mexican War, Clark accepted a commission as major in the Missouri volunteers. He assumed command of a volunteer artillery battalion, which joined General Stephen W. Kearny's army in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Clark led his unit into Mexico, where it saw action at the Battle of Sacramento. After his unit disbanded, Clark returned to St. Louis. In 1849, he received appointment as surveyor general of the Districts of Illinois and Missouri, holding that position until 1853. In 1854, Clark commanded a volunteer police force that assisted in quelling rioting between Know Nothings and immigrants in St. Louis. When the Civil War commenced, Governor Claiborne F. Jackson commissioned Clark as brigadier general of the Missouri State Guard in charge of recruiting in St. Louis. In November 1861, he left state service to accept a commission as a major of artillery in the Confederate States Army. In April 1862, Clark received promotion to colonel. Assigned to the artillery in the Army of the West, Clark held several staff positions until November 1862, when General Braxton Bragg removed him from command. Clark subsequently received assignment to the Easter Theater, where he served as an assistant inspector general of the Confederate Army Ordnance Department in Richmond and commanded an infantry brigade in the Army of North Virginia. Clark continued to lead his unit until captured in April 1865. After the war, Clark moved to Kentucky, where he worked as an architect and later as an assistant professor of mathematics and commandant of cadets at the Kentucky Military Institute.

George W. Cullum, Biographical Register of the Officers and Graduates of the U.S. Military Academy, 3rd ed. (Boston and New York: Houghton, Mifflin, 1891), 1:459, 469; John H. Eicher and David J. Eicher, Civil War High Commands (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2001), 174-75; William C. Winter, "Clark, Meriwether Lewis," Dictionary of Missouri Biography (Columbia and London: University of Missouri Press, 1999), 188-89; Illinois Daily Journal (Springfield), 30 April 1849, 2:1; Register of all Officers and Agents, Civil, Military, and Naval, in the Service of the United States, on the Thirtieth September, 1849 (Washington, DC: Gideon, 1849), 141; Register of all Officers and Agents, Civil, Military, and Naval, in the Service of the United States, on the Thirtieth September, 1851 (Washington, DC: Gideon, 1851), 137; Register of Officers and Agents, Civil, Military, and Naval, in the Service of the United States, on the Thirtieth September, 1853 (Washington, DC: Robert Armstrong, 1853) , 135; Gravestone, Bellefontaine Cemetery, St. Louis, MO.