Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Christopher Berringer

Christopher Berringer was born August 13, 1834, in W├╝rttemberg, Germany.

Christopher immigrated to the United States, eventually settling in Michigan and by 1860 was possibly residing in Detroit’s Seventh Ward. In any case, he apparently soon afterwards moved to the western side of the state and by the time the war broke out was living in Eaton County.

Christopher stood 5’4” with blue eyes, light hair and a light complexion, and was 25 years old and working as a carpenter probably living in Charlotte, Eaton County when he enlisted as a Corporal in Company D on May 13, 1861. (Company D was composed in large part of men who came from western Ionia County and Eaton County.) He was shot in the right leg (or right breast) on August 29, 1862, at the battle of Second Bull Run, and on September 5 it was reported in Charlotte that he had been killed “while fighting again on the old Bull Run battlefield. Eaton County has sent no braver spirit to the war. His courage amounted almost to recklessness; he was several times wounded; and the wonder has been that he should so long escape the fate he so boldly met. Though he occupied no prominent position here, his example and quaint but always cheerful letters have exerted a most salutary influence. The remaining young men of Charlotte would do well to imitate his active patriotism and erect a monument to his memory.”

A week later, however, the Eaton County Republican wrote that Christopher, although “reported as among the killed, writes that he still lives. He was struck senseless while fighting, and taken prisoner, but has been paroled, is now in Washington, and will be fit for service in a few days. Our eulogium is just as true as if he was dead, and it gives us great pleasure to learn that ‘Chris’ still lives to serve his country and win additional laurels.”

He quickly recovered from his wound and soon returned to duty. According to Dr. James Grove, however, who was then surgeon for the Third Michigan, he was called to treat Christopher

in the fall of 1862 in camp near Falmouth Va for some chronic disease of the lung the particular nature of which and the treatment I do not now remember. He was reported unfit for duty nearly all the time while I was with the regiment until about the middle of June 1863. After the battle of Gettysburg and until the battle of the Wilderness (at which time I was assigned to duty with division hospital) he was much of the time under treatment and excused from duty for the same disease.

He was listed as a Sergeant in October of 1863, and he reenlisted on December 23 1863, at Brandy Station, Virginia, crediting Hamburg, Livingston County.

Christopher returned to his home in Eaton County on a veteran’s furlough for 30 days, when he married New York native Josephine Parker (1840-1920), on January 17, 1864, at Vermontville, and they had at least two children: a daughter Anna (b. 1870) and a son Edwin (1879-1929).

He probably returned to the Regiment on or about the first of February, 1864. In any case, he was on duty with the regiment when he was wounded on May 6, 1864, at the Wilderness, Virginia. According to Christopher he was struck by a spent ball just below his knee. “The skin was not broken” although “it left a bruised spot and it caused me to be some lame for a few days but I remained with my company & did duty.”

He was wounded a third time in the head and neck by pieces of lead on May 12 at Spotsylvania, Virginia. It was also reported that he served as acting Second Lieutenant of Company I from May through June.

Christopher who recovered from both wounds was transferred to Company A, Fifth Michigan infantry as First Sergeant upon consolidation of the Third and Fifth Michigan Regiments on June 10, 1864, and was apparently wounded a fourth time by a gunshot to the right leg on June 16 near Petersburg. According to Christopher, at about six o’clock in the evening he was shot in the

right leg about half way between knee & ankle just to right of shin bone & was sent to division hospital near Petersburg. Stayed there about two days but not treated there 7 was then sent to Cit Point Hospital Va & had my wound dressed there and was sent next morning to Willard’s Point Hospital, New York harbor. Stayed there about three weeks [and] then came home on furlough 30 days & at the expiration of furlough returned to the hospital at Willard’s Point, N.Y. and was sent to the regiment at my request. I arrived at camp of my regiment near Petersburg Va in August 1864 and was mustered as 2nd Lieut of Co “A” 5th Regt Mich Vet Vol Infantry and was on duty one week when the said gunshot wound broke out again. I was treated by regimental surgeon for two or three days and was then sent to the division hospital near Petersburg. Stayed there a day or so and was sent to General Hospital City Point, Va. Stayed there about six weeks & got a leave of absence & come home about 10th october & got leave of absence extended twice on surgeon’s certificate. I returned to my regiment 1st January 1865 and then served till the close of the war.

In July of 1864 he was acting as Second Lieutenant, and then commissioned as such on September 16, replacing Lieutenant Augur.

On October 3, 1864, he applied for a furlough of 20 days, and on the same day Dr. Burmeister, surgeon for the Sixty-ninth Pennsylvania in charge of the Second Corps hospital at City Point, certified that after examining Barrenger found that “he is suffering from [a] gunshot wound of the right leg, involving the Tibia, received in action June 16, 1864, in front of Petersburg, Va. The wound has resulted in a very unhealthy ulcer, which unfits him for performing military duty.” The doctor recommended a leave of 20 days, and it was approved and Barrenger went home to Michigan on furlough.

It is not known when or if Chris rejoined the Regiment, although it seems likely that he recovered (again) from his wounds and returned to Virginia. In January of 1865 he was promoted to First Lieutenant, commissioned October 25, and transferred to Company E, where he replaced Lieutenant McGinley. He was mustered out on July 5, 1865, at Jeffersonville, Indiana.

Following his discharge he returned to (or remained in) Michigan and by 1869 he was living in Eaton County. By 1870 Christopher was working as a farmer (he owned some $1800 worth of real estate) and living with his wife and one child in Carmel, Eaton County. By 1880 Christopher was working as a farmer and living with his wife and children in Carmel, Eaton County. He was living in Scranton (?), near Charlotte in 1883 when he was reported to be suffering from a gunshot wound to the right leg, for which he received $9.50 per month from the government (pension no. 101,337). He was living in Charlotte in 1884 when he attended the Sixth Annual Reunion of the Soldiers and Sailors, at Battle Creek, Calhoun County. Interestingly he is listed with the Fifth Michigan infantry rather than those in the Third.

He was living in Charlotte’s Second Ward in 1890 and 1894, and for many years he worked as a farmer.

He was a member of the Old Third Michigan Infantry Association, as well as Grand Army of the Republic Williams Post No. 40 in Charlotte.

Christopher was working as a farmer when he died of “paralysis” on December 24, 1909, in Charlotte, and was buried in Maple Hill cemetery, Charlotte, section H, lot 215.

In 1910 his widow applied for and received a pension (no. 695684). By 1920 she was living at 2532 Regent Street in Berkeley, California (probably with her son Edwin who died in California in 1929).

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