In the War Between the States, he was a General for the "other" side. Yet there is a park in Dodge City named for him.
The information contained here is attributed to Dr. Leo Oliva of the Santa Fe Trail Association.
Robert Hall Chilton was born on Feb. 25, 1815 in Loudoun County Virginia. In 1837, he graduated from West Point just two from the bottom in his class of 50 cadets. But competition was tough. Among his classmates were Union generals Joseph Hooker and John Sedgwick, and Confederate generals Braxton Bragg, Jubal Early and John C. Pemberton.
Soon after graduation, 2nd Lieutenant Chilton served in the First Dragoons. It took him five years to reach the rank of 1st Lieutenant.
In 1845, he married the daughter of Attorney General, John Y. Mason, Laura Mason. This union produced three children.
From the beginning of his career until the Mexican War in 1846, when he made Captain, Chilton served on the western frontier out of Forts Leavenworth and Gibson, the Choctaw Nation and other stations.
On Feb. 23, 1847 during the Battle of Buena Vista while serving under General Zachery Taylor, Chilton carried a wounded Colonel Jefferson Davis to safety under heavy enemy fire. For this he received a field promotion to Major. During the Civil War, Davis was President of the Confederacy.
At the completion of the Mexican War, Chilton led troops on the Oregon and Santa Fe Trails. During the summers of 1851 through 1853, he commanded Fort Atkinson west of current Dodge City. In negotiations with the Plains Indians at Fort Laramie in 1851 and Fort Atkinson in 1853, Chilton represented the U.S. Army signing the treaties.
In 1854, Chilton was permanently promoted to Major and worked in the Paymaster Department in Washington, DC, New York, Detroit and San Antonio, TX. On April 29, 1861, with outbreak of the Civil War, he resigned his commission and joined the Army of Northern Virginia as Adjutant General at the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.
Serving as Chief of Staff for his friend General Robert E. Lee during much of the War, Chilton attained the rank of Brigadier General in 1861 and Major General in 1864.
After the War, Chilton worked as President of Columbus Manufacturing Co. in Columbus Georgia. Robert Chilton died in Feb. 18, 1879 and is buried in Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, VA.
It is his negotiations with the Plains Indians in the 1850's, his endeavors on the Santa Fe and Oregon Trails, and his service on the western frontier that earned him the honor of having Chilton Park in Dodge City named for him in 1931. In the Park stands a signboard telling his story. The other side of the sign pays tribute to Thomas Fitzpatrick (1799-1854).