These incredible memoirs were recorded in 1886 by Charles A. Frey (picture above)—known to his family and friends as “Charley”—who served in Co. D, 150th Pennsylvania Infantry. Recalled from diaries kept during the war, Charley’s memoirs chronicle three years service with the famed Bucktail Brigade where he rose in rank from private to sergeant, gaining the respect of his comrades.
Charley was born in July 1843, the son of Charles Frey (1809-1889) and Sarah Ritter (1806-1880) of Buffalo Township, Union county, Pennsylvania. He had four brothers who served in the Civil War—Henry Frey (1838-1914) and Francis R. Frey (1841-1898) who served in Co. E, 51st Pennsylvania, and John William Frey (b. 1846) who served in Co. E, 12th Pennsylvania Cavalry. The 1890 Veteran’s Schedule indicates that Charley served from 22 August 1862 to 22 June 1865, or 2 years and 10 months. At that time, Charley suffered from rheumatism, hemorrhoids, and “dull” hearing, no doubt all hard-earned on the battlefields in Virginia.
After the war, Charley returned to Union county where he married Elmira (“Ella”) Hartman (1846-1921), the daughter of Charles and Jane (Matone) Hartman of Lewisburg. In the 1880 US Census, Charley was enumerated in Northumberland county where he was employed as a “School Desk Agent.” In the 1900 US Census, his employment was given as “Gardener.”
The whereabouts of Charley’s original diaries as well as the original manuscript of Charley’s memoirs is unknown. However, a copy of the manuscript—in the author’s own handwriting—is in the possession of a great-grandson named Mark Frey who graciously offered it for inclusion on a Spared & Shared Blogsite. Given the length of the manuscript, I decided to showcase it on its own website. Mark had previously transcribed the document and my role was largely limited to final editing and changing the tense of a few paragraphs that remained inconsistent with the bulk of the manuscript. Though written twenty years after his service, I feel Charley’s account of the action is largely unembellished and offers a credible firsthand account of the 150th Pennsylvania Infantry deserving of publication.