The son of the famed explorer, Meriwether Clark was born on January 10, 1809, in St. Louis, Missouri. In 1826 he received an appointment to the U. S. Military Academy and graduated four years later, ranking 23rd in his class of 42. Clark was assigned to Jefferson Barracks in St. Louis, where he remained until he resigned in 1833.
In St. Louis, Clark became a designer-architect and contributed to the early architecture of the city, including the design of the St. Vincent de Paul Roman Catholic Church. In 1836, Clark was elected to the Missouri General Assembly. With the outbreak of the Mexican-American War in 1846, he resumed his military career, serving as a major in the Missouri Volunteers commanding an artillery battalion. After the war, he returned to St. Louis and continued his career as an architect and engineer.
Early in 1861, being strongly pro-secessionist in his political views, Clark was appointed by Missouri Governor Claiborne Jackson to organize recruits for the newly organized Missouri State Guard. He received an appointment of brigadier general of the Guard’s 9th Division, but the division was never formally organized during his tenure because of strong pro-Union sentiment in St. Louis. Resigning from the Guard in November 1861, Clark accepted a commission as a major of artillery in the Confederate army. He was promoted to colonel and assigned to various staff positions before a disagreement with General Braxton Bragg led to his dismissal. He commanded the Ordnance Department in Richmond, Virginia until November 1864, when he assumed command of an infantry brigade under General Robert E. Lee. During the Appomattox Campaign, Clark was taken prisoner at the Battle of Saylor’s Creek on April 6, 1865.
After the war, Clark moved to Louisville, Kentucky, where he resumed his engineering career. Meriwether Lewis Clark died in Frankfort, Kentucky in 1881. He is buried in Bellefontaine Cemetery, St. Louis, Missouri.
Image Courtesy Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield; WICR 32076