Charles W. McAlley was born in 1820 in Ontario, Canada.
Charles came to the United States and eventually settled in Kent County where he was living when he married Ohio native Rhoda J. Hamilton (b. 1822) on January 30, 1859(?), in Plainfield, Kent County, and they had at least three children: Annie (b. 1856), Alfonzo (b. 1857) and Sarah (b. 1859).
By 1860 Charles was working as a farmer and living in Algoma, Kent County.
He stood 5’4” with gray eyes, black hair and a dark complexion and was probably a 42-year-old farmer who could neither read nor write and was living in Algoma, Kent County when he enlisted in Company A February 24, 1862, at Grand Rapids for 3 years, and was mustered the same day. By late July he was a patient at the U.S. General Hospital in Annapolis, Maryland, and although he allegedly deserted on September 21, 1862, at Upton’s Hill, Virginia, he may in fact have still been hospitalized.
In any case, he was returned to the Regiment on January 28, 1864, near Culpeper, Virginia, and reported as a guard at Division headquarters from February through May. He was still serving as a guard and was left near Brandy Station, Virginia, when he was transferred to Company A, Fifth Michigan infantry upon consolidation of the Third and Fifth Michigan Regiments on June 10, 1864. Charles was absent sick in September and probably taken prisoner on October 27, 1864, at Boydton Plank road, near Petersburg, Virginia. He returned to the Regiment on December 20, 1864, and was mustered out on May 5, 1865, at Washington, DC.
After the war Charles returned to his home in in Plainfield, Kent County where he worked for some years as a carpenter. By 1888 he was living at Fife Lake.
He was admitted to the Michigan Soldiers’ Home (no. 1051) on July 8, 1889, and was discharged on September 3, 1892, readmitted on December 24, 1894, discharged on April 16, 1895, readmitted on an unknown date and discharged on March 19, 1896.
In 1890 he applied for and received a pension (no. 690302).
Although the date of his finaly readmission is not known, Charles must have returned to the Michigan Home sometime before he died of senile debility and lung disease at the Home hospital on March 13, 1897. He was buried in the Home cemetery: section 1 row 2 grave 27.