Charles Shelley

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Charles Miller Shelley (born December 28, 1833 in Sullivan County, Tennessee; died January 20, 1907 in Birmingham) was a Confederate officer during the Civil War and U.S. Representative for the 4th Congressional District of Alabama during Reconstruction.

Shelley was the son of William Park Shelley and Margaret Finley Etter Shelley. He moved with his family to Talladega when he was 3 years old. He received limited schooling, but assisted in his father's contracting business and worked as an architect and builder in the 1850s.

Shelley was an officer of the Talladega Artillery, which enrolled in the Confederate Army at Fort Morgan at the mouth of Mobile Bay in February 1861. He was commissioned as a first lieutenant He was elected captain of his company, which was attached to Robert Emmett Rodes' 5th Alabama Infantry. His unit marched to Virginia and fought in the Peninsula Campaign between the James and York Rivers in 1862. By that time, Shelley had been promoted to Colonel and had raised another company of volunteers, the 30th Alabama Infantry Regiment, from the Talladega area. He led that unit to Mississippi and narrowly escaped several bullets during the Battle of Champion Hill. He was captured at the Siege of Vicksburg in 1863, but won parole in July. His regiment enlisted another round of recruits and came under the command of General Edmund Pettus during the Chattanooga Campaign in 1863. During the Battles of Franklin and Nashville Shelley was given the rank of brigadier general and given command of 1,100 soldiers. His troops suffered massive casualties in the Union victory, but his efforts were credited with forestalling the capture of Alexander Stewart's corps. Shelley's brother, a lieutenant colonel of the 10th Alabama Infantry, had been killed in the Siege of Petersburg in June of that year.

After the war, Shelley moved to Selma, Dallas County and resumed working as an architect. He married Kathleen McConnell, daughter of Congressman Felix McConnell of Talladega. In 1874 he won a two year term as Sheriff of Dallas County. He ran as the Democratic candidate in the Republican-controlled 4th District in the 1876 general election. Because the Republican vote was split between former 2nd District representative James Rapier and incumbent Jeremiah Haralson who appeared on the ballot as an independent candidate, he won outright with 38% of the vote. Kathleen died in 1877 and Shelley was soon married to her sister, Ann Olivia.

Increased suppression of Black voters eased his re-election over Haralson's challenge in 1878. Haralson filed a federal suit alleging election fraud, but was not successful. After Shelley apparently won a third term in 1880, challenger James Q. Smith filed another contest and succeeded in having the seat declared vacant in July 1882. However, Shelley was victorious in the election held that year and continued to serve in the 47th congress. His opponent George Craig filed another challenge to Shelley's claimed victory in the 1884 election and was successful, taking over the seat in 1885.

After leaving Congress, Shelley moved to Birmingham and became involved in promoting the region's industrial development. He campaigned for Governor of Alabama in 1900, but lost the race to William Samford. Shelley died in 1907 and is buried at Oak Hill Cemetery in Talladega.

Preceded by:
Charles Hays
Representative, 4th Congressional District of Alabama
Succeeded by:
George Craig


  • Eicher, John H., and David J. Eicher (2001) Civil War High Commands. Stanford: Stanford University Press ISBN 9780804736411
  • Sifakis, Stewart (1988) Who Was Who in the Civil War. New York: Facts On File ISBN 9780816010554
  • Warner, Ezra J. (1959) Generals in Gray: Lives of the Confederate Commanders. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press ISBN 9780807108239
  • "Charles M. Shelley" Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.
  • Kline, Ryan (May 8, 2020) "Charles Miller Shelley". Encyclopedia of Alabama - accessed December 19, 2022

External links