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Charles Thayer

Researchers: Alberto D’Agostino and Jeff Gould

            Charles H. Thayer was born to Nathanial Thayer, and Caroline Taft on December 24, 1840. He lived in Franklin, Massachusetts until just before the war when he moved to Providence, Rhode Island. When he was in Rhode Island, he enlisted with the 1st Rhode Island Regiment in A.E. Burnside’s regiment. A.E. Burnside was one of the major commanders of the Union armies. He also was the leader who kept the battle of Antietam from being a total loss for the Union. He was sent along with the other soldiers in his regiment to fight in Manassas, VA to fight in Bull Run, the first major battle of the Civil War. Though Bull Run was a defeat for the Union, it proved that the war was not going to be over as quickly as everyone hoped it would. Shortly after Bull Run he was reenlisted into the 1st Rhode Island Calvary. After the change in Regiment he was promoted to 2nd Lieutenant and then sent to be put in charge of the recruiting station in Cranston, Rhode Island. He was moved back into combat at the end of 1862 where he was promoted to 1st Lieutenant. He was transferred to the Army of the Potomac in 1863 where he was elevated to the rank of Captain. His regiment fought in Kelly’s Ford. The Battle of Kelly’s Ford was a large-scale Calvary battle in Virginia. Charles had a significant part in the battle, as he was one of the 3 cavalrymen of his regiment to capture a key foothold in the battle. This battle had shown the Confederates the strength of the Union cavalry and also allowed the union to get cavalry to Gettysburg to fight there. The Union lost the battle and Charles was shot, wounded, captured and sent to Richmond, Virginia where he was held in Libby Prison under horrible conditions. Libby Prison was a 3-story Tobacco factory that Union officers were held in. The fact that he survived his stay in the prison is nothing short of miraculous. Charles was one of the third of the inmates in Libby prison who survived. With the end of the year approaching he was released form the prison in December of 1864. After being released he was honorably discharged on December 31, 1864 after three and a half years of service. Though he was only one of the hundreds of thousands of soldiers to fight he did have a big role in the war. He protected the capital from the Confederates at Bull Run and he also fought over Kelly’s Ford a battle that led up to Gettysburg, the turning point of the war. His role may have been a small one but he and soldiers like him were what one the war for the Union.

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