Charles Henry Tucker Collis was born in Ireland on Feb. 4, 1838. He arrived in Philadelphia with his father in 1853. He studied law and was admitted to the bar on February 4, 1859.
At the start of the Civil War he joined the 18th Pennsylvania Infantry Regiment as sergeant major. At the end of his three months enlistment he was authorized by the Secretary of War to raise a company of picked men for special duty in the Shenandoah Valley. Collis returned to Philadelphia to form and become the captain of the Zouaves D’ Afrique, modeled after the elite Algerian troops of the French Army. Many of the men were veterans of European service, and the material for the uniforms came from the French army.
The company was praised by General Banks for its action at Middletown, “the quiet, steady coolness displayed by the men was admirable. I only regret that you had not a regiment of such brave fellows, when the foe would have had little to congratulate himself upon.” This resulted in Collis being instructed to raise an entire regiment, and within five weeks the additional nine companies were recruited. The regiment became the 114th Pennsylvania Infantry, known as Collis’ Zouaves.
Collis fought at Fredericksburg, and later received the Medal of Honor for his conduct there. He was wounded at Chancellorsville and missed Gettysburg due to his wound and a bout of typhoid fever. When Collis rejoined the regiment in August he was given command of the brigade in General Birney’s Division, which included the 57th, 68th, 105th, 114th and 141st Pennsylvania Infantry Regiments.
In 1864 he was breveted brigadier general and given command of an independent brigade of five regiments of infantry and cavalry reporting direct to army headquarters. The brigade served through the campaign from the Rappahannock to Petersburg, rendering special service in driving off an attack by Fitz Lee’s cavalry on army headquarters.
During the fighting around Petersburg on April 2nd, 1865, Collis’ brigade went to the relief of the Ninth Corps after they had been driven back from the line of works they had captured. Collis personally led the charge of the 68th and 114th Pennsylvania and 61st Massachusetts regiments, retaking the lost ground. For this he was breveted Major General, at the special request of General Grant.
n June 1865 Collis was mustered out of service and returned to his law practice in Philadelphia. In 1866 he became Assistant City Solicitor, and in 1868 he was recommended by the bench and the bar of Philadelphia as United Stales District Attorney. He declined the position of Deputy Attorney-General of Pennsylvania, but in 1871 he was nominated for the office of City Solicitor by the Republican Convention.
After the war Collis built a summer house in Gettysburg which still stands on Seminary Ridge just off the Fairfield Road at the beginning of West Confederate Avenue. The cottage, named “Red Patch” after the 3rd Corps symbol, has bedrooms named after Union generals.
Collis died on May 11, 1902. He is buried in the National Cemetery at Gettysburg, where he is honored by a monument.