Turkish Crimea Medal (Sardinian Issue)
Charles was born in around 1837 in the village of Quin in County Clare, Ireland. We don't know anything about his family. By the time he was 17 he was employed as a labourer, but on the 21st February 1854 he enlisted into the 63rd Regiment of Foot in the nearby town of Ennis. He was given the service number 3232.
The Crimean War had broken out in October 1853 and Britain and France declared war on Russia in March 1854. At first the 63rd Regiment was not intended to take part in this fighting, but in June it was ordered to prepare to go to war. Charles arrived in the Crimea, then in Russia but today part of the Ukraine, in September 1854.
Charles and the 63rd Regiment played a minor role in the Battle of the Alma on the 20th September. They then moved to Cathcart's Hill, where they joined the siege of Sevastopol. The Russians attacked these forces at the Battle of Balaklava on the 25th October. Charles took part in this battle, which ended in a Russian victory and led to a much larger battle on the 5th November, at Inkerman.
The Russians were again the attackers, but the 63rd Regiment were ordered to counterattack. After vicious hand to hand fighting the Russian attack was defeated and they were forced to withdraw.
The British and French kept Sevastopol under siege until early September 1855. They attacked on the 8th and had captured the city by the next day. Charles may also have been involved in the capture of the Russian fort of Kinburn in October.
The war ended in February 1856, and Charles and the rest of the 63rd Regiment left the Crimean Peninsula on the 6th May, bound for Halifax, in Nova Scotia, Canada. They arrived on the 2nd June.
On the 26th August 1860 Charles began to receive 1 penny (1d) per day Good Conduct Pay. He was promoted to Corporal on the 22nd October 1860. He was soon in trouble though, and after being convicted of 'drunkeness' Charles lost his Good Conduct Pay and his new rank on the 24th December.
After a year Charles' Good Conduct Pay and rank were restored. Two years after that, on the 24th December 1863, his Good Conduct Pay was increased to 2d per day.
The 63rd Regiment were still in Canada. They had moved from Halifax to London, in what is now Ontario, during 1861. The American Civil War had broken out shortly before this, and there was a great deal of tension between Britain and the United States. The 63rd Regiment was stationed close to the American border so that they would be well placed if war did break out. They moved to nearby Hamilton on the 30th May 1864.
After 10 years and 9 months in the Army Charles re-engaged for another 11 years on the 23rd August. He left the 63rd Regiment on the 31st and joined the Royal Canadian Rifles. They gave him the service number 1408. It would seem that Charles had taken to Canada and wanted to stay, but the 63rd Regiment were due to leave during 1865.
The Royal Canadian Rifles was made up of veteran soldiers such as Charles. They were paid twice the daily wage of soldiers in the rest of the Army. This was done because the Rifles were based in garrisons close to the American border, so the Army worried younger, less well paid men might desert to the United States.
Charles had returned to the rank of Private when he transferred. He was promoted back to Corporal on the 1st January 1867, and received 3d per day Good Conduct pay from the 28th August. We don't know where Charles served during his time in the Royal Canadian Rifles.
The Rifles were disbanded on the 30th September 1870. This may be why Charles left them on the 1st June. He joined the 69th Regiment of Foot, which later became part of The Welsh Regiment. Charles was given the service number 1638 by the 69th Regiment, but he only served with them for 122 days before joining the 78th Highlanders on the 1st October 1870. The 69th Regiment were due to leave Canada shortly after this.
The 78th Highlanders gave Charles the service number 1891. They were based in Halifax, Nova Scotia, where Charles had first landed in Canada. This unit would later become part of The Seaforth Highlanders (Ross-shire Buffs).
After just 4 days with the 78th Highlanders Charles was placed in confinement, and then charged with 'neglect of duty'. We don't know precisely what he did, but he was found guilty on the 10th October. Although his sentence was remitted (not carried out) he forfeited 1d of his Good Conduct Pay until the 10th October 1871.
On the 25th November the 78th Highlanders left Canada, so Charles transferred again. He joined the 1st Battalion of the 60th Regiment, The King's Royal Rifle Corps, based in Montreal. They gave him the service number 2047.
Charles served with them for the rest of his time in the Army. He requested to leave so after 18 years and 6 months service he was discharged on the 15th August 1872. He could count 17 years and 356 days of this towards his pension, the rest had been served before his 18th birthday. All but 5 months had been spent abroad.
When he was discharged Charles' character was assessed as 'Good'. He was 5 feet 8 inches tall, with a 'fresh' complexion, brown eyes and brown hair.
Charles told the Army that he intended to live in Windsor, Ontario, once he was a civilian. We don't know whether or not he did. He was awarded the Crimea Medal with the clasps 'Alma', 'Balaklava', 'Inkermann' and 'Sebastopol' for his Army service. .