Charles H. Dillenbeck

Charles H. Dillenbeck was born March 8, 1838, in Madison County, New York, the son of Peter (b. 1811) and stepson of Lucy (b. 1830).

New York native Peter married his second wife, another New Yorker named Lucy, possibly in New York. In any case, Peter and his family eventually moved to Michigan sometime after 1849, and by 1860 Charles was living with his family in Woodland, Barry County where his father was a farmer.

Charles stood 5’11” with gray eyes, dark hair and a light complexion and was 23 years old and living in Woodland, probably with his family, when he enlisted in the Hastings Rifle Company In April of 1861. The company was disbanded shortly after it arrived in Grand Rapids and its members distributed to other companies of the Third Michigan infantry then forming at Cantonment Anderson just south of the city. Charles eventually enlisted in Company D on May 13, 1861.

Charles was reportedly absent sick, probably at home in Woodland, in July and August of 1862. While at home, on July 14, 1862, Charles wrote to Colonel Smith in Detroit expressing concern over his status and asking for instructions on what he was supposed to do next. (Colonel Smith was in charge of all soldiers passing in and out of the state of Michigan.) “I saw in the [Detroit] Free Press on Saturday,” he wrote,

an order issued from the Adjutant General's office and also yours that you wanted all of the Michigan soldiers to report to your office by person as soon as able. If not able by letter and a dis[charge] certificate etc. I have been unable to perform military duty since the 25th of March last, and inclosed you will find a certificate to the effect that I am still unable. I was sent home from New York City on the 15th of last month. I have reported to my captain since but have received no answer. When sent home from New York they gave me no instructions whatever and until Saturday I knew not what to do. I did not like to be so far away from my Regiment without some kind of papers to show that I was honorably permitted to be away. I never have applied for any discharge or a furlough (although I had my descriptive roll with me) and did not know that I was coming home until they gave me a pass to come through on. If you want me to report by person I would like to have you answer this and send me a pass to Detroit for I have no money for I have not been paid only up to the first of March last.

Colonel Smith’s response is not known, but apparently he approved a discharge for Dillenbeck. In any case, Charles never returned to the eastern theater of operations, and although he allegedly deserted on September 21, 1862, at Upton’s Hill, Virginia, in fact he was discharged for chronic pneumonia on July 29 1862, at Detroit Barracks.

Charles left Michigan sometime after his discharge from the army and by 1865 had settled in Iowa where he lived the rest of his life. (His stepmother was still living, as a widow, in Woodland in 1870 and 1880, and several children were living with her as well.)

Charles married New York native Mary A. Buck (1844-1897), presumably in Iowa, and they had at least three children: Owen (b. 1865), Ina (b. 1868) and Kate (b. 1878). They were living in Iowa in 1865, 1868 and 1878.

By 1880 Charles was working as a grocer and living in Bassett, Chickasaw County, Iowa. He divorced Mary in October of 1880, and was living in Chickasaw County, Iowa when he married his second wife, Ida Delight Warner, on September 24, 1882, in Nashua, Chickasaw County. He and Ida had at least two children: Charles Warner (b. 1884) and S. Bell (b. 1887).

Charles was living in Chickasaw County in 1886 and in Bassett, Iowa in 1902, when he sought an increase in his pension rate (In 1870 he applied for and received pension no. 116,661, drawing $12.00 per month by 1902.)

Upon examination by a physician, Dillenbeck’s wife informed the doctor that “he is so totally disabled that he has to be assisted in dressing and undressing and to attend to the calls of nature, he seems to be afraid to move or attempt to do anything, he falls down has to be assisted in getting up, is easily exhausted, has frequent sweating spells, also hard coughing spells, cannot remember things, cannot put words together.” The physician noted that his right arm and shoulder were nearly useless, “he walks with great difficulty and cannot stand alone on either foot, walked with apparent great pain in left knee.” The examination also found very rapid, irregular and intermittent heart action” as well as “probable extensive effusion of pericardium which places the heart upwards and inwards farther limited by extensive pleuritic adhesions on both sides.” The conclusion was that the “applicant is a mental and physical wreck.”

Charles was living in Floyd County, Iowa in 1903.

Charles died, probably in Charles City, Floyd County, Iowa, on September 4, 1903, and was buried in Riverside cemetery, Charles City, Iowa.

His widow applied for and received pension no. 592654.