Charles Heath was born on December 3, 1844 in Eagleville, Ohio. His parents were Nathan B. Heath and Mehatable (Sloat) Heath. Both Charles, and his brother Chauncy, enlisted as Privates in Company F of the Fourth Michigan Infantry on June 20, 1861, at Adrian, Michigan, and were mustered into Federal service for three years on the same day. Charles was reported as wounded in action on July 1, 1862 at Malvern Hill, Virginia. Charles was wounded in action once again on December 12, 1862 and died of small pox in Oak Grove Hospital at Portsmouth, Rhode Island on February 23, 1863. He is buried in the National Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York and has a cenotaph in Assosciation Cemetery, Sylvania, Ohio.
Charles wrote the following three letters home to his father, Nathan, as his mother Mehatable had passed away on April 18, 1851. The letters were found in Nathan’s pension application as a dependent parent as proof of the financial support that he had received from Charles during the war.
Harrisburg, June 28th, 1861
Dear Father, and Friends,
I take my pencil in hand to inform you that we are well at present and I hope that these few lines will find you the same. We all arrived here at Harrisburg last night but we shall not stay here but a few days and then we shall leave for Washington. We had a good time a coming. The folks were very kind to us. The ladies of Elmira, N. Y. got us up a nice supper and there we found five regiments and they were glad to see us. And before we come away there was two of the N. Y. regt. were stabbed. They were found on the sidewalk dead. There was some excitement there. They arrested the man that owned the saloon. Well, as I have told you all that I know, I shall have to bid you goodbye.
From your son Charles Heath
You must excuse this bad writing, for I have nothing but my knapsack to write on. Give my love to all the folks that loves their country and the stars and stripes.
Virginia, Jan. 5th, 1862
It is with much pleasure that I once more sit down in my tent to send you a few lines to inform you that we are all well at present. And I hope that these few lines will find you all the same. I received your letters all in a heap. The two that you wrote, and the one that Orra wrote, and a paper. We was glad to hear from you. We had a dull Christmas and New Years here. We had an oyster supper for Christmas and we were out on picket New Years. It would make your hair stand to have heard the bullets whistle around our heads. It is a snowing some here today and it is some cold and Father, tell Libba to write every week and I will answer them. Father, Chauncey wants to know how you heard, who told you that Chancy felt bad because you did not write to him? We could not contrive who told you such stuff. He said that he never thought of such a thing. For one letter does for both just as well as two. We have just been having some sport . We made a bombshell. We took a bottle and put some powder in it and sprinkled powder on the ground and then touched it off. And when it went off it spoke like thunder and the whole regiment fell out with their arms . And the Colonel got his spy glass to see if the rebels was a coming. But they were all fooled for it was nothing [but a] bottle. So no more for this time. Goodbye. write soon.
From your ever true son,
We shall get our pay by the government. We shall send you a paper with this.
Old Camp Minor, Va. Sept. 6, 1862
It is with much pleasure that I take my pencil in hand to inform you that we are all well at present. And I hope that these few lines will find you the same. I suppose you think it very strange that I have not written before. The reason is that we have been on the march ever since I came back from Richmond. We have marched 200 miles in two weeks and we camped in the same place that we last winter. So you see that we have gained nothing but lost a great deal. All of our hard fighting is lost. I have been looking for a letter from you but then none comes. In this letter I shall send you twenty dollars in [an] allotment in your name. you can get the money on it. You will have to sign your name on the back. You take it to the bank or to any merchant and they will cash it, and you may put the money with the rest of mine. Well, I think I told you and tell Orra to write soon, and I wish you would write as often as you can. So goodbye. Give my love to all.
From your son,