Christopher Columbus Augur, United States soldier, son of Ammon and Annis (Wellman) Augur, was born at Kendall, New York, on July 10, 1821. After moving with his widowed mother to Michigan, he was appointed to the United States Military Academy in 1839 and graduated four years later, sixteenth in a class of thirty-nine. He married Jane E. Arnold of Ogdensburg, New York, in 1844. Augur served in the Mexican War at the battles of Palo Alto and Resaca de la Palma. From 1852 to 1856 he participated in fighting against the Yakima and Rogue River Indians in the Oregon and Washington territories. By 1861 Major Augur was serving as commandant of cadets at West Point.
He established a solid but unspectacular Civil War record in the Union Army. He was promoted to major general of volunteers for his conduct in action in August 1862 at Cedar Mountain, Virginia, where he received serious wounds. He served in the New Orleans campaign and the siege of Port Hudson before receiving command of the Twenty-second Army Corps and the Department of Washington in October 1863, a command that he maintained until the end of the war. In 1865 Congress brevetted Augur major general for his services. The next year he was transferred from command of the volunteer service and made colonel of the Twelfth Infantry. He was made brigadier general, regular army, in 1869.
After the Civil War he commanded the departments of the Platte (1867–71), Texas (1872–75, 1881–83), the Gulf (1875–78), the South (1878–80), and the Missouri (1883–85). He gained a reputation for quiet competence in command rarely equaled during the period. While in Texas he believed that Indians guilty of depredations should be punished severely, and he cooperated fully with Ranald S. Mackenzie's raid into Mexico, during which Mackenzie burned several Indian villages, as well as with the Red River campaigns of 1874–75 (see RED RIVER WAR). Augur also tried to cooperate with Mexican officials in hope that their combined efforts would crush Indian resistance along the Rio Grande. Yet Indian reformers joined Gen. William T. Sherman in classifying Augur as a fair man. General Augur was a strong advocate of western railroads, for he recognized that they changed "very materially the conditions of the problem of protection and defense" along the frontier. Augur retired from military service on July 10, 1885, and died at Georgetown, D.C., on January 16, 1898.