Charles William Field began his military career after graduating from the United States Military Academy in 1849. He first served in the United States military where he was assigned to cavalry units in the Western frontier. At the outbreak of the Civil War, however, Field resigned his commission with the United States Army, and joined the Confederate military. He was first placed in command of the 6th Virginia Cavalry, and was eventually appointed colonel of the unit. On March 9, 1862, He was commissioned a brigadier general, and transferred to the infantry.
Once he became a commander of infantry soldiers, he was given the command of a brigade within A.P Hill’s “Light Division” and fought in the Seven Days Battles of the Peninsula Campaign. He went on to participate at the Battle of Cedar Mountain, and at the Battle of Second Manassas, where he was severely wounded. Unable to command while recovering from his wound, Field served as Chief of the Bureau of Conscription in the War Department until he was finally allowed to return to the field in February of 1864. Once again in the charge, Field commanded the former division of General John Bell Hood through the Overland Campaign, as well as during the battle of Cold Harbor and during the siege of Petersburg. During the Battle of Deep Bottom, Charles William Field was able to successfully halt the Union advance and turn the tide of the battle. He continued to command the division until April of 1865, when he surrendered along with General Robert E. Lee at Appomattox Court House.