Charles Henry Littleton

Charles Henry Littleton

Civil War (Union) · US Army

Served in the Pennsylvania 50th Regiment, Company F. Also the 55th Kentucky, Company F.

Civil War (Union) (1861 - 1865)


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50th Infantry

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Conflict Period

Civil War (Union)

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Served For

United States of America

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Stories about Charles Henry Littleton

Charles Henry Littleton

    Charles Henry Littleton was born February 25, 1848, in Petersburg, Perry, Pennsylvania. He was the oldest child of John S. Littleton and Barbara Scherer. His father was from England and his mother was from Scotland. In the 1860 Census, at age 14, Charles was no longer living with his parents but in nearby Spring Township. On September 28, 1861, 15-year-old Charles enlisted in the Pennsylvania 50th Regiment, Company F. He is listed as a musician and served as a drummer boy. His description said he had fair skin, blue eyes, and light hair. Charles was 5'6" tall.

    The Pennsylvania 50th traveled to Beaufort, South Carolina aboard the Steamer Winfield Scott. During the journey, the Winfield Scott ran into a terrible storm off the coast of North Carolina. A newspaper clipping from the Bangor Daily Whig and Courier described the situation:

    "The gale on the 1st and 2d (November 1-2, 1861) was very severe, and the fleet completely scattered. Steamer Illinois lost a smoke stack. The rendezvous reached at 11 o'clock Sunday morning. Steamer Winfield Scott reached the rendezvous evening of 3d (November 3, 1861), with loss of masts and bow stove in. They had extremely rough time; threw over her three rifle cannon, all her freight, the muskets and equipment of her 500 men - everything but rations - to keep her from sinking, and but for the labor of the soldiers in bailing, her fires would have been put out, and nothing could have saved her. Steamer Bienville went to her relief, when her Chief Engineer, his assistants, and 13 of the crew jumped overboard, the Bienville leaving the Scott to her fate. Their action nearly created a panic among the soldiers, who gave up all for lost, but the Captain of the Scott put the Chief Engineer in irons, and bro't him and the recreant crew back, when things went on better. Col. Clark, of the 50th pa, regiment, 500 of whom were aboard the Scott describes the night as one of horror and the gale terrible. The vessel was a mere shell, and the men were terrified by the cracking of timers as masts went overboard, and despair seized them. When discovered she leaked badly, to which succeeded a panic when the crew attempted to escape. The Scott was taken in tow by the Vanderbilt, which had cut clear from the Great Republic in the gale."

    Another report published in the Reading Times shed more light on the storm the 50th encountered:

    "THE FIFTIETH PENNSYLVANIA REGIMENT IN THE LATE GALE. The accounts of the naval expedition, report the almost miraculous escape of the steamer Winfield Scott, having on board about 500 men of the Fiftieth Pennsylvania regiment. The gale on Friday night was very severe, and Scott was exposed to the full force of the storm; she had her masts all carried away, and her bows stove in, and suffered in others ways. She is an iron steamer, new, this being her first trip. During the gale her iron and wood separated abaft the starboard paddle - box, opening a huge seam, which let the water enter in torrents.' All the soldiers (500 of the Fiftieth Pennsylvania regiment) were set to work at the pumps. They behaved admirably, both officers and men, and are highly commended by the captain and officers of the ship for their efficient service. Some of her own officers, however, did not behave so well, but disgraced themselves and their ship, as will appear in the sequel. The Scott ran up the signal of distress, which brought to her assistance the Bienville. The officers of the Scott manned 'their boat, placed in it three wounded men and a woman, who, with the boat's crew, got safely on board the Bienville, but the boat swamped alongside. The Bienville then sent her own boat, which no sooner came near the Scott, than the engineer, his assistant, the carpenter, and a number of the crew, basely deserted their posts, leaped into the boats, and went on board the Bienville, when this, boat also swamped. The Bienville then resolved to lie by the Scott, to render her all assistance in case of further and more urgent need. The Scott, however, by dint of throwing overboard all her subsistence stores, and by the vigorous help of the soldiers, succeeded in weathering the storm. In the hurry of the moment, owing to some misunderstanding of orders, about three hundred of the Pennsylvania Fiftieth, threw overboard their guns, knapsacks and overcoats."

    After arriving in Beaufort, Charles H. Littleton was injured. The details of how he received his injuries are not known, but he was recovering at a Union hospital in Beaufort when he signed his name on the hospital's wall. A later injury report when Charles was living in a Soldier's Home, showed his injuries consisted of hemiplegia on the left side (paralysis on left side of body) and cystitis.

    Charles was not present at the muster-out roll for the Pennsylvania 50th, probably because he was still recovering. Charles did recover sufficiently that on December 14, 1864, at age 18, he reenlisted in the Kentucky 55th Regiment, Company F, also as a musician in the Drum Corps. At some point after joining the 55th Regiment, officials considered filing military charges against Charles and another soldier for taking a tent and horse and leaving the regiment. A letter in his military file said, "George W. McCall, Pvt. 55 Kentucky and C. H. Littleton, 55 Ky Regiment are suffering from syphilis and will not be fit for duty for 8 weeks. And then be of little use. If the military charges are not of a serious character they should be discharged..." Charles is still present at the Company Muster Rolls in March and April of 1865. His May and June Muster Roll shows he is absent with these remarks, "In hosptl? Covington to pay for two shelter tents $7.56 four saddle blankets one haltin? one bridle $24.40 awaiting court martial."

    The July and August Company Muster Rolls show Charles is present with remarks that appear to say that he owes $35.00.

    After the war, Charles married Caroline E. Able and she gave birth to a daughter, Minnie Gertrude Barbara Littleton in 1868. Charles apparently had lifelong effects as a result of his injuries. He resided in Soldier's Homes for disabled soldiers in Danville, Illinois, and Marion, Indiana. Charles Henry Littleton died on December 12, 1912, in Marion, Indiana, and is buried in the Marion National Cemetery.

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