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This biography is from HEROES OF ALBANY, by Rufus W. Clark, D. D.

Lieut. Charles L. Yearsley

Charles L. Yearsley was the son of Henry and Sarah A. Yearsley, and was born in West Troy May 19, 1843.

He received a Christian education, and his amiable qualities and affectionate disposition made him a great favorite in the home circle, and among all his friends. Early in life he became a member of the Sabbath school, and was very conscientious in observing the Sabbath, and attending upon the public worship of God.

From the commencement of the war he was very desirous of entering the army and fighting for his country. He often urged his parents to let him go, but they were for some time unwilling to part wath the object of their affections. His love for his mother was very strong, but he said to her one day, "the love of country and the love for one's mother are alike, and we ought to be willing to die for either."

He enlisted August 13th, 1862, in Company H, One Hundred and Thirteenth Regiment, afterwards the Seventh Heavy Artillery, and left Albany for the defence of Washington on the 19th of August. There he remained until May 15, 1864.

Towards the latter part of the year 1863 he was promoted to the position of Orderly Sergeant, and on the 15th of April, 1864, was made Lieutenant, in consequence of his faithful services and superior soldierly qualities.

In June he was ordered to charge the enemy's works in front of Petersburg, and having had the command of Company G from the third of that month, he led them forward. As the engagement opened he was badly wounded, and his friends urged him to go to the rear. But he pushed on, and was again wounded. Still he nobly and fearlessly pressed forward, and was struck by a bullet for the third time, and fell mortally wounded. He died in about ten minutes, with his face still towards the enemy.

In the death of this noble patriot the country lost one of its truest friends; the company one of its noblest officers, and his parents one of the best of sons.

He sleeps with a large number of Christian heroes in the Albany Rural Cemetery. His precious life was given to the noblest of causes, and the priceless treasure that he helped to secure, he leaves as his legacy to coming generations.

The following letters were written to his father after Charles fell:

Opposite Petersburg, Va., June 17, 1864.
Henry Yearsley, Esq:
Dear Sir—It is with feelings of the deepest regret I write to inform you of the death of your son, Charles L., Lieutenant in Battery G, Seventh New York Heavy Artillery. He was killed while charging the enemy's works. In your sad bereavement I would ofler you my heartfelt sympathies. It could be well said of him, that none knew him but to love him. Pleasing in personal appearance and manners, he won friends by his gentleness and kiudness. He was as brave as a lion, and faithful in the discharge of his duty, whether in the camp or in the face of the foe. In him our country loses one of its noblest defenders; our regiment one of its most efficient officers; and myself one of my warmest personal friends. He died a soldier's death, with his face to the foe. Our regiment was ordered to charge the works of the enemy, and while nobly pressing his men forward, and within a few yards of the works, he fell, shot through the stomach, dying in about ten minutes. His body we have been unable to recover, as it is between our lines. I will see that he is decently buried and his grave marked.

His watch is in my possession; I will, as he wished, send it to you by the first opportunity I have, and will try to send you his sword, although I am afraid it will be impossible.

Please sir allow me to sympathize with you in this your great affliction, at the same time trusting that "He who doeth all things well" will comfort you.

I am sir, truly yours,
Capt. Seventh N. Y. H. Artillery, Com. Battery G.

Quartermaster's Office, 7th N. Y. A.,
4th Brigade, 1st Division, 2d Corps,
In the Field near Petersburg, June 25, 1864.
Mr. Henry Yearsley, West Troy, N. Y:
Dear Sir—Your letter, dated 22d inst. I have just received, and will hasten to reply. I wrote a letter to Mr. Charles Lack some days ago, in which I referred to your son Charles, and I presume that by this time you have learned either by this letter or some other, of the fate of your noble boy. It therefore only remains for me to comply with your request, contained in the last part of your letter, and detail some of the circumstances connected with his last moments. Perhaps I may be permitted however, to first say a few words in relation to my previous intercourse with him. Our intimacy commenced soon after our regiment left Albany, in August 1862. There were three of us who occupied the same tent; the third was Lieut. McClure. We enjoyed each other's society very much during the almost twelve months we were together. But I felt from the first, a particular feeling of congeniality towards Charlie, which I never lost; I discovered at once in him a spirit so noble and generous, and such a determination to do right, that I at once respected and loved him. Our duties afterwards separated us, but our friendship continued to grow stronger up to the time of his death.

During the first two weeks service of our regiment in this campaign, I was in all the engagements in which it participated, and my position on the staff of Col. Morris as aid, during that time, afforded me a good opportunity to judge of the merits and fighting qualities of our officers. And I can say, that in the very high opinion I had formed of Lieutenant Yearsley's soldierly qualities, I was not mistaken. He was as brave and true a soldier as ever lived. And since the second of this month I have been acting Regimental Quartermaster, and my duties, as such, required me to be with the supply train a good share of the time. I was not in the engagement of the sixteenth, and must therefore state the particulars concerning your son as I heard them from those who were last with him. He had been the only officer in his company for duty since the regiment was at Coal Harbor, and he went into the charge before Petersburg in command of the company. I am told he was wounded three times before he gave up. While cheering on his men he was struck by a bullet, and fell to the ground. But immediately rising he assured his men that he was not hurt much, and urged them to press forward. He was hit the second time, and the third shot struck him in the stomach, and proved to be a mortal wound. The brigade advanced to the enemy's rear works, and found they were in a place where they could not get out, and a surrender was unavailable.

A few, however, made their escape, among them Captain Maguire, and a few of his men, and it is from them that I learned the following facts: The enemy had apparently discovered that the escape of our regiment was impossible; and they put their heads over their breastworks and called on the "Yankees" to throw down their arms and come in, assuring them that they would not be hurt. Captain Maguire replied, that they would not get him while he was able to run, and he immediately started to make his escape followed by four of his men, and a shower of rebel bullets. In escaping over the field, across which the charge had been made, a few minutes before, two men passed Lieutenant Yearsley as he lay on the field; he called after them saying, "don't leave me." They took him up and carried him until they saw that his spirit had fled, when they laid him down and hastened to our lines.

The following day. First Sergeant Shaw, with a detail of men from our regiment, went out under a flag of truce and buried the body of Lieutenant Yearsley. The Sergeant assured me yesterday, that he could find the grave at any time. It is now within our lines, but I think it would be impossible for you to get permission to take it up before the first of November.

A few minutes before going into the charge the Lieutenant handed his watch to one of his company, and it has since been handed over to me. I will send it to you the first opportunity I can get. A feeling of sadness comes over me while recounting the circumstances of his death, and how much greater must be the sadness of a fond father and loving mother; a mother whom I know he loved, and whose pious counsels contained in her letters to him, I know he heeded and treasured up in his heart. When first learning of his death, it seemed to me that his young life had been taken too soon—that his career of usefulness had hardly commenced. But God knew best. I believe he has taken him to Himself, and though it was not permitted his friends to be with him in his parting moments, or to witness his cheerful deportment and christian conduct and fortitude amid the hardships of this dreadful campaign, yet I certainly think that they should not be "like those who are without hope."

With the earnest wish, that you may receive strength from on high, to bear up under this great affliction, I close by subscribing myself, with much respect,

Your obedient servant,
Lt. and A. R. Q. M. 7th N. Y. Art.

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