My Union Ancestor
CHARLES D. FOSTER
Co. F, 10th Michigan Cavalry
Half great-great-granduncle of Tad D. Campbell, PCinC
Charles D. Foster, the third of four sons of Moses and Joanna (Slarrow) Foster, was born 31 Mar 1845 at Plymouth, Wayne County, Michigan. The family moved to Shiawassee County, Michigan about 1850-57 and settled at Corunna in Caledonia Township. Here his father continued his work as a shoemaker, a trade he had learned from his father. They had four sons and a daughter.
During the first half of 1857, Charles' mother became quite ill. While she on her death bed, she made the family's housekeeper, Sarah A. Miller, promise to marry Charles' father after she died. Joanna Foster passed away on June 19, 1857 and shortly thereafter Moses and Sarah were wed.
As his new step-mother, Sarah was a mere five years older than Charles, and twenty-one years younger than his father. This marriage produced another four sons and a daughter.
At the age of eighteen, Charles D. Foster, enlisted in the U. S. Army on October 7, 1863 at Caledonia, Michigan. He was mustered into Company F, 10th Michigan Cavalry as a Private on October 23, 1863.
The Regiment left its rendezvous December 1, 1863, with orders to proceed to the field in Kentucky via Cincinnati to Lexington, where they remained until January 25, 1864, when they moved to Burnside Point, Kentucky, having engaged the confederates at House Mountain. While at Burnside Point, Private Foster became sick, being listed as such on the Company Morning Reports for February 28 and 29. He was evidently well enough to travel as he moved out with his regiment on the latter date.
The Tenth remained at Burnside Point from February 2-29, when they traveled over the Cumberland Mountains to Knoxville, East Tennessee, thence marched on the March 15th to Strawberry Plains, having met the rebels on the February 26 at Bean's Gap.
On April 24, 1864, the Regiment moved from that point with orders from General Jacob D. Cox, commanding 3rd Division, 23rd Corp, to destroy a railroad bridge over the Wautauga River at Carter's Station. They skirmished with the confederates at Rheatown on the 24th, and at Jonesboro and Johnsonville on the 25th.
They reached Carter's Station on April 25, 1864, together with the 3rd Indiana Cavalry, supported if necessary by Manson's Brigade of Cox's Division, which marched up as far as Jonesboro, twelve miles from Carter's Station. It was discovered that the bridge was defended by General Alfred E. "Mudwall" Jackson with a strong force, occupying a redoubt and extensive and well constructed rifle pits on the south side of the river.
It was soon ascertained that there was no possible way of reaching the bridge without first dislodging the rebels from their strong position, and this had to be accomplished at much risk by passing over perfectly open ground for a distance of 200 yards, swept by a very sharp and hot cross fire from the opposite side of the river. About one third of the cavalry was dismounted and ordered to advance upon the opposite position at the double quick. The rebels gave way in great disorder, leaving their works, and taking shelter in a large mill nearby. As soon as the redoubt was gained, an attempt was made to drive the Confederates from the mill, but the charging force was met with such a terrible and destructive volley, that it was abandoned.
The fight was a brilliant success, though obtained at a loss of seventeen killed and wounded, and must be recognized as an uncommon victory, considering it was gained by dismounted cavalry, new and undisciplined, over a much superior force of well trained infantry, holding strong defensive works, and having, in addition, to meet a most galling cross fire, thus rendering the success uncommon at that stage of the rebellion, and should be classed among the most gallant minor victories of the war.
During the charge at Carter's Station one of Charles Foster's comrades, Private Ira E. Angus, was wounded. Years after the war, Angus' daughter Tryphena would marry Charles Foster's half brother, Frank Foster.
The Regiment was engaged at Powder Springs Gap on April 28, 1864, then at Dandridge on May 19th. On the 28th, a reconnaissance was made from Strawberry Plains by one hundred and sixty men of the Regiment. The next day they reached Bull's Gap, and the following day were at Greenville, where at 2:30 P.M., the confederates were encountered, over one hundred strong. A brisk fight ensued, the rebels loosing 24 killed, 14 wounded.
In June they met the southerners in skirmishes at Morristown on the 2nd, at Bean's Station on the 16th, Rodgersville on the 17th, Kingsport on the 18th, Cany Branch on the 20th, New Market on the 21st, Moseburg on the 23rd, William's Ford on the 25th, and then at Dutch Bottom on the 28th.
During the month of July and the early part of August, detachments of the Regiment were constantly engaged in scouting and pursuing small bands of rebels in East Tennessee, meeting them at Sevierville July 5th, at Newport July 8th, Morristown August 5th, then at Greenville on the 4th.
On August 17, 1864, the Tenth was ordered to report for temporary duty to Brigadier General Gilliam, commanding the East Tennessee Expedition. Three companies, including Foster's Company F, were left at Knoxville.
On August 25th, Private Foster was taken prisoner, probably near Flat Creek Bridge, Tennessee. He was held for nearly two months before being paroled on October 19, 1864. By the time he returned to his regiment he was suffering from chronic diarrhea and was immediately sent to Holston General Hospital at Knoxville, Tennessee.
Charles received a furlough on October 26th. Upon his return he was still suffering from diarrhea and was admitted to Asylum General Hospital at Knoxville on November 22, 1864, but returned to duty the same day.
From December 1864 to March 1865, the regiment remained at Knoxville. It thence took park in Gen. George Stoneman's raid into North Carolina and Virginia, being occupied in destroying bridges and railroads, and engaging in several skirmishes with the enemy.
The Tenth returned to Knoxville on May 31, 1865, having traveled 1,800 miles since leaving the state. They remained at Knoxville until August, when they were ordered to western Tennessee. Private Foster was mustered out with the rest of his company at Memphis, Tennessee on November 11, 1865.
After the war, Charles D. Foster returned to his life of farming in Caledonia Township, Michigan. On October 7, 1866 he married Martha Ann Kelly. This marriage produced three children: Jay D. Foster, Almon J. Foster, and Orpha P. Foster.
Charles continued to suffer from the chronic diarrhea which he had contracted while in the service. He subsequently received a government pension for "disease of bowels and resulting disease of heart."
He continued to live in Caledonia Township until his death from cerebral apoplexy, which occurred on May 10, 1914. He was laid to rest in Pine Tree Cemetery, Corunna, Michigan.
After her husband's death, Martha (Kelly) Foster was granted a widow's pension by the government for her husband's service. She soon moved to Chehalis, Washington to live with her son, Jay D. Foster, where she passed away on April 12, 1924.
Charles D. Foster had two brothers that also served in the Union Army, namely: William J. Foster of Co. B, 1st Michigan Infantry who died from wounds received at Chancellorsville; and John N. Foster of Co. B, 3rd Michigan Infantry who died from typhoid fever and wounds received at Fair Oaks.
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