Charles R. Burgess

Charles R. Burgess was born 1837 in Michigan, the son of John M. (1815-1891) and Catherine (1815-1860).

His parents were both born in New York and were married March 23, 1835, possibly in New York. In any case, Charles' family moved from New York to Michigan sometime before 1836. (In 1840 there was one John Burgess living in Avon, Oakland County and one in Burns, Shiawassee County; both had one male under the age of 5 living with them.) By 1850 the family had settled in West Michigan and Charles was attending school with his siblings and living with his parents on the family farm in Cannon, Kent County. In 1860 he was working as a farm laborer working and possibly residing in Ada, Kent County. (He was probably related to Maynard Burgess who in 1860 was living with his family in Cannon and who would join the Third Michigan in 1862.)

Charles was 24 years old and probably still living in Kent County when he enlisted in Company A on May 13, 1861. He was on duty with the signal service in October of 1862, but in February of 1863 he was a cook in the Regimental hospital, and from March through April he was a nurse in the Regimental hospital. He eventually returned to duty with the regiment and was shot in the head while the regiment was engaged in the Peach Orchard, on July 2, 1863 at Gettysburg.

According to one Charles Borst, Burgess “received a severe wound in the head soon after entering the field; that medical aid was rendered; and that, thus maimed he again entered the ranks and fought with heroic valor until an arm was severed from his body, which wound occasioned death.” On August 15, 1863 the editor of the Grand Rapids Eagle wrote that “Charlie, for 2 long years followed his Regiment through all its bloody conflicts, repeatedly signalizing himself for valiant and heroic deeds; and now, in the hour of dawning victory, he lies a sacrifice upon the altar of his country. He was a youth of promise, beloved and respected by all who known [sic] him. He leaves a bereaved family and desolate hearth-stone. May his silent sleep be the sweet repose of a soul conscious of heaven's approving smile, removed from the distracting scenes of chaotic strife, this dark heritage of sorrow and ‘vale of tears’, crowned the recipient of a paradise of life, an eternity of love.”

On October 13, the Eagle reported that “Funeral services in honorable memory of” Charlie Burgess, “will be held at Cannonsburg on the first day (Sabbath) of November next. And thus one after another of the brave men who left the Valley City with the glorious ‘Third, have passed away, filling patriot graves, until its ranks number but comparatively few of the original gallant band. Nearly every battle field in which the Army of the Potomac has been engaged, has been moistened by the blood of the brave boys of the Third Mich. -- Honored by the memory of the fallen brave, and green be the turf that covers their patriot graves.”

Charles was buried in Gettysburg National Cemetery: section A, grave 6, Michigan plot.

His father apparently remarried New York native Betsy F. Fallass (1814-1888) and by 1870 they were living in Cannon, Kent County and in 1880 in Fallasburg, Kent County. In 1890 his father was living in Lowell, Kent County when he applied for a dependent’s pension (no. 461378), but the certificate was never granted. John had apparently died in or about 1891.