The youngest of 8 boys born to Charles Combs and Abigail (Reavis /Brassfield), Charles Combs Jr. was born on August 28, 1843. His family lived in Indian Creek, Monroe County, Indiana. Since he was the last child and because he was named for his father he was given the nickname “Boy” and he was called that his entire life. His family was what could be considered well to do for that time period. In the 1850 Census, the farm that the family owned was worth 3000 dollars. Most of the land Charles Sr. had received was for his service in the War of 1812.
“Boy” grew up on the farm along with his older brothers and they learned all there was to know about planting, harvesting and taking care of all the animals. His parents were both educated and could read and write and they made sure their sons received the same kind of education.
In May 1858, Abigail passed away leaving Charles Sr. alone to raise his 8 boys. By October of that same year, Charles Sr. married Anna McLaughlin who herself was a widow. Within a year there was one more son born to this family.
The Civil War started on April 12, 1861, and most of “Boys” older brothers enlisted quickly. “Boy” had always admired his father for his service during the War of 1812 and he too wanted to serve his country. On the 12th of March 1862 at the age of 19, “Boy” enlisted in Company B, Indiana 27th Infantry Regiment and marched off to War proudly wearing the blue uniform of the Union Army. Shortly after enlisting, “Boy” and his Regiment saw action in 3 battles. One was in the Shenandoah Valley (Virginia) Campaign, and then they fought in the engagements of Front Royal and Winchester. The 27th also saw action at Cedar Mountain in Virginia in August 1862.
On September 16, 1862, the Regiment Commander Colonel Silas Colgrove joined forces with General George B. McClellan and his “Union Army of the Potomac” and confronted General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia at Sharpsburg, Virginia. The next day the Regiment joined forces with Major General Joseph Hookers Union Corps and mounted a powerful assault on Lee’s left flank that began the Battle of Antietam, and the single bloodiest day in American military history. “Boy” was injured during this battle along with 9539 other soldiers. Over 2000 Union soldiers were killed.
“Boy” was taken to the Fredericks Hospital to recuperate. There were so many injured soldiers from both sides of this battle that nearly the entire town was turned into Hospital Wards. After a few weeks “Boy” was able to return to his Regiment and thankfully they did not see any more action for the remainder of the War. On the 4th of November 1864 after the fall of Atlanta, reorganization took place and the veterans of the 27th were transferred to the 70th Indiana under Colonel Benjamin Harrison. On the 9th of September 1865, the War ended and “Boy” returned home to his family.
On the 8th of March 1864, while still serving in the Infantry, “Boy” married his childhood sweetheart Mary Carmichael. “Boy” never completely recovered from the wounds that he received in the Battle of Antietam. He spent the next 4 years fighting a reoccurring infection. He and Mary went on to have 3 boys of their own. William Thomas “Billy” Combs was born 17th of August 1866. Twin boys were born on the 19th of December 1867. One was never named and he died on the 22nd of December 1867. The second boy was named Robert and he died on the 21st of January 1868.
“Boys” father Charles Sr. died on the 28th of February in 1866 and “Boy” was willed 40 acres of land. He began to do his own farming and raised his own animals. Finally at the age of 25 “Boys” infection got so bad he could no longer work. On the 2nd of January 1869, Charles “Boy” Combs Jr died of his wounds. He is buried along with his parents and two sons at the Combs Family Cemetery in Buena Vista, Monroe County, Indiana.
Valerie Hughes is a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, crafter, reader, wife, mother, and grandma. She has two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with her via Facebook or Twitter.