Charles McLean Finch was born July 27, 1839, in Niagara County, New York, the son of Huron C. (b. 1813) and Marcia (b. 1811).
New York born Huron married Connecticut native Marcia. Around 1839 his family left New York State and moved westward, eventually settling in Doylestown, Wayne County, Ohio where they resided for about a year before moving on to Jackson County, Michigan. They resided in Jackson County for about a year and then settled in Ionia County. By 1850 Huron had settled his family in Boston, Ionia County where Charles attended school with his siblings. By 1860 Charles was a laborer or working for a painter by the name of Abraham Wager and living with his family in Lyons, Ionia County.
Charles stood 6’2” with gray eyes, light hair and a light complexion, and was 21 years old and still living in Ionia County when he enlisted as Fifth Sergeant in Company E on May 13, 1861. (Company E was composed in large part by men from Clinton and Ingham counties, as well as parts of Ionia County.) In fact, according to Charles’ own statement he was not promoted to Sergeant until late July of 1861. Charles testified in the pension application for the former Sergeant Alfred Burns, that after Burns was discharged for disability on July 18, 1861, he was immediately promoted to Sergeant.
He was probably wounded in the arm at Second Bull Run on August 29, 1862. In any case, he was reported absent sick in the hospital in August and September of 1862 but eventually returned to the Regiment.
In April of 1863 he was listed as AWOL, but soon returned to the Regiment and, according to Andrew Kilpatrick, also of Company E, Charles was a Private on duty with the company in late May of 1863. In September and November was a provost guard at First Division headquarters. On December 23, 1863, Charles reenlisted at Brandy Station, Virginia, crediting Cascade, Kent County, was presumably absent on veteran’s furlough, probably in Michigan, in January of 1864, and probably returned to the Regiment on or about the first of February.
Charles was transferred to Company E, Fifth Michigan infantry upon consolidation of the Third and Fifth Michigan Regiments on June 10, 1864.
On August 5, 1864, he was tried by a field officer court martial for straggling. Specifically, “on the night of July 26,” he did “leave the ranks without permission and did also induce others to leave the ranks and did remain absent until about ten o’clock the next day [July 27], all while on the march from Petersburg, Va. to the James River, Va.” Finch pled guilty to both charge and specification, with the exception of the words “induced others to follow.” The trial was held at the Headquarters of the Fifth Michigan and Major Daniel Root (formerly of the Third Michigan) was named president of the court. The first witness for the prosecution was Corporal Andrew J. Kilpatrick who testified that he “heard some conversation between two members of the company about falling -- one of which was the accused.” He ‘could not say that he, the accused, induced anyone to fall out.” Private George Decker was then called. He swore that he “heard Finch ask another member of the company if he would take a dare. He, the addressee, said he would not. The accused then said ‘I dare you to fall out with me’, and about this time they both stopped.”
Private Sam McMurray stated under oath he “heard the accused talking about falling out and he would fall out if anyone else would, thus the accused and another member of the company fell out together.” In his defense Finch claimed that “his feet were blistered and that he fell out and did not ask nor induce anyone to stop with him.” Finch was found guilty and sentenced to forfeiture of $8.00 per month for six months.
Charles was reported missing in action on October 27, 1864, at Boydton Plank road, near Petersburg, Virginia, and in March was listed as absent sick in the hospital. He was mustered out as a Sergeant on July 5, 1865, at Jeffersonville, Indiana.
After the war Charles probably returned to Ionia County where worked, possibly as a contractor, until May 21, 1872 when he settled in Atchison, Kansas and probably lived in Kansas the rest of his life.
He married Mary F. Scott (d. 1879) on December 25, 1876, probably in Atchison County; they had no children.
By 1880 he was reported as single, working as a laborer and living with the George Sutliff family in Lancaster, Atchison County, Kansas.
He was a member of I.O.O.F.
Following his wife’s death in 1879, Charles married Michigan native Hettie H. Hammond (b. 1851), a native of Washtenaw County, Michigan, on April 19, 1882.
In 1889 he applied for and received a pension (no. 941298).
Charles died on April 5, 1919, in Atchison, Kansas.
In 1919 his widow was residing as head of the household in Atchison, Atchison County, Kansas, when she applied for and received a pension (no. 874982).