Friday, February 08, 2008

Charles E. Califf

Charles E. Califf was born 1845 in Smithfield, Fayette County, Pennsylvania, the son of David E. (b. 1825) and Harriet (Knickerbocker, 1825-1890).

Pennsylvania-born David and New Yorker Harriet were married sometime before 1845. (Harriet was the sister of Ira Knickerbocker who would also serve in the Old Third.) By 1850 the family was living on a farm in Franklin, Bradford County, Pennsylvania (where David was born and raised), but in the late 1850s David and Harriet moved their family westward, eventually settling in Michigan by 1858 and in Fruitland, Muskegon County, Michigan, a year later David bought 160 acres of government land and after selling most of the timber on the land for lumber, cleared it for farming. By 1860 Charles was working as a farm hand and living with his family in Dalton, Muskegon County. (In 1860 there was one Hubbard "Caliph," born in Pennsylvania, 30 years old and working as a ferryman in Muskegon, Muskegon County.)

Charles stood 5’5” with black eyes, light hair and a sandy complexion and was a 19-year-old farmer living in Dalton, Muskegon County (or in Mears, Oceana County) when he enlisted in Company E on January 26, 1864, at Grand Rapids for 3 years, crediting Dalton, and was mustered the same day. He joined the Regiment on February 10, and was wounded on May 8, 1864, at the Wilderness, Virginia.

On May 14 he was admitted to the Second Division (Baptist church) hospital in Alexandria, Virginia, suffering from chronic diarrhea. Sometime afterwards, he wrote his mother from the hospital,

I take this opportunity to write you a few lines to let you know how I am getting along & I am getting along better than I was. I was pretty sick for about three weeks and I am not very well now. Now I will tell you about the fight so much as I know of it. We broke camp the third of May at 11 o’clock at night and marched all that night and till 2 o’clock the next day when we camped on the Chancellorsville battleground. There was graves where they were half out of the ground some with their arms in sight & others with their legs in sight with no end of skull bones lying around. The next day we marched till noon when we heard cannon off tot he right and about 3 we got where they were fighting. We were put on the skirmish line for about an hour then we were ordered to charge on them and we did too. The underbrush was so thick that we could hardly get through but we did get through. We charged up a hill when we got on top of the hill when the colonel ordered us to lay down and fire and how the bullets did [fly] cutting the bushes down on every side of us. The boys said they never saw men fall as fast as they did there. We had to get out of there on the double quick when we got up to leave I never expected to get out alive but I did not get hurt but I felt a ball touch my knee. The next morning I was taken with the diarrhea and sent to the regimental hospital and kept there four or five days and then sent here. There was five days I never ate a mouthful. I got so weak that I could hardly walk. I can’t eat anything now but bread and milk and rice. I wish you would send me some postage stamps for this is the last one that I have got. I like to have forgot to tell you that Uncle Ira is wounded. . . . Mr. Sheffield was wounded but I don’t know how bad. I don’t know where either of them are. I am all alone. Don’t forget to send some stamps for I have not got a cent of money. So good bye from Charlie.

Charles was transferred on June 7 to Summit House general hospital in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He was still absent sick when he was transferred to Company E, Fifth Michigan infantry upon consolidation of the Third and Fifth Michigan Regiments on June 10, 1864, and returned to duty from Summit House hospital on July 10, 1864. He was mustered out on July 5, 1865 at Jeffersonville, Indiana.

After the war Charles returned to his home in Fruitland where he farmed for many years.

He was living in Fruitland near his parents farm when he married Ohio native Emma R. Evans (1852-1928), on June 19, 1867, and they had at least six children: Ada (b. 1869), Ella (b. 1874), Hattie (b. 1876), Harry (b. 1878), Charles De L. (b. 1881), Leslie A. (b. 1884), Mabel J., (b. 1886), Edna M. (b. 1890) and Ernest F. (b. 1892).

Charles and Emma were living on a farm next to his parents’ farm in 1870, and he was still farming in Fruitland in 1880 and living with his wife and children. (David was living in Fruitland in 1887-1890.) By 1890 Charles was residing in Whitehall, Muskegon County, but by 1894 he was back in Fruitland.

In 1878 Charles applied for and received a pension (no. 421,563), and drawing $8.00 per month by 1889. In February of 1889 he became a member of the Grand Army of the Republic Noah Ferry Post No. 3 in Whitehall, Fruitland Township, Muskegon County.

Charles had been ill for some months in early 1896, possibly the consequence of having suffered a stroke.

In any case he died as a result of partial paralysis at his home in Fruitland on June 12, 1896, and was buried in Fruitland cemetery: block 1, grave no. 64.

In 1896 his widow applied for and received a pension (no. 437,149).

1 comment:

Dave Knickerbocker said...

Great story, however I have Harriett H. Knickerbocker (12/2/1825) married to David E. Califf and she did have a brother Ira.