Monday, February 09, 2009

Charles E. Henry

Charles E. Henry was born in 1838 in New York, the son of Thomas (b. 1802) and Hilly (b. 1811).

His father immigrated to America from Ireland and probably married Hilly in New York. In any case they resided in New York for some years. Sometime between 1845 and 1848 Thomas moved to Michigan, and by 1850 Thomas had settled his family on a farm in Grattan, Kent County where he also worked as a mason and where Charles was attending school with four of his siblings. By 1860 Charles was a farm laborer who was attending school and living with his family in Grattan, Kent County where his father operated a sizable farm.

Charles stood 5’10” with black eyes, dark hair and a dark complexion and was 23 years old and possibly still living in Kent County when he enlisted in Company K on May 13, 1861. On February 13, 1862, he wrote to a friend from Camp Michigan, near Falmouth, Virginia, that

At present my health is good & as a general thing we are having good times, at least as good as this kind of life affords. “Our camp is now situated about ten miles southwest of Washington. We have been here since the first of last Dec. For the most part the Reg. have built log cabins to live in. As for my part I am living in a tent which has prove[n] to be comfortable.

Owing to unfavorable weather we have not done but very little in [the] military line. This winter until of late I have experienced the most disagreeable weather of my life. One day it will snow the next perhaps it will rain, consequently the whole country about here is one bed of morter [sic]. For too [sic] or three days past the sun has shone like spring & the mud is drying up amazingly, enough so, as we have battalion drill in the forenoon & bayonet exercise in the afternoon. A few days since we received new guns, they are the Ostrian [sic] Riffle [sic] & they prove to be a superior gun. They will at least do good execution [at] one hundred rods. I think if we ever get a chance to try them on secesh we will be apt to make the fur fly.

Since the success of our arms in your part of the country I fell considerably encouraged & last night news reached here to the effect that Burnside has taken Roanoke Island, with two thousand rebels, besides killing about five hundred. I begin to think the war in future will be carried on with more vigor. I think it is high time that we do something besides play soldier. It has been almost one year since I entered the service, which time is about as long as I anticipated I should have to serve, but when I look back I find I did not know as much about such affairs as I do now. With me soldier's life is not preferable to that of any other, unless on such an occasion as this. Never the less this will prepare us to appreciate the blessings of life after the war is over.

Charles was a nurse in the hospital in July of 1862, but soon returned to the Regiment, and was shot in the left leg on August 29, 1862, at Second Bull Run. He was subsequently hospitalized at Fort McHenry, Maryland, and discharged on October 31, 1862, at Armory Square hospital, Washington, DC for wounds received in action.

After he was discharged from the army Charles eventually returned to Michigan, probably to his family’s home in Kent County. In 1870 Charles was working as a farmer in Grattan, next door to his younger brother Thomas and his family; his mother (?) Mahala (b. 1816 in New York) was living with him as well as two younger siblings.

He was married to New York native Florence N. (b. 1849) and they had at least two children: Alice A. (1884-1951) and Mabel (b. 1887).

Charles was residing in Greenville’s First Ward, Montcalm County in 1890 and 1894, and in December of 1892 when he became a member of the Old Third Michigan Infantry Association; he was also a member of Grand Army of the Republic Kent Post No. 83 in Greenville. In fact, he quite likely lived the remainder of his life in the Greenville area, and was residing there in 1894 and in 1911. By 1920 Charles, his wife Florence and their daughter Alice were living with Mabel and her husband Joseph Gibson in Greenville.

In 1863 he applied for and received a pension (no. 15228).

Charles died on October 3, 1921 in Greenville and was buried in Forest Home cemetery: section 16, in Greenville (Florence and Alice are also buried alongside Charles).

In 1921 his wife applied for and received a pension (no. 919028).

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The information presented is accurate, but there is a lot more to this man's interesting life than was picked from the census records. He was an ambitious pioneer in agriculture who accumulated large land holdings for his time. His story is a good one to feature on this site.