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Fayette County, Iowa  

 Biography Directory


Portrait & Biographical Album of Fayette County Iowa

Containing Full Page Portraits and Biographical Sketches of

Prominent and Representative Citizens of the County

Lake City Publishing Co., Chicago

March 1891


~Page 338~


Charles M. Gager

Charles M. Gager, an honored veteran of the late war, engaged in farming and stock-raising on section 10, Bethel Township, was born in Barker Township, Broome County, N. Y., April 14, 1843, and is a son of Ambrose and Amanda (Thurston) Gager, both of whom are descended from early families of English origin that were founded in America before the Revolution. The early life of our subject passed uneventfully until when nineteen years of age he responded to the country's call for troops, enlisting November 18, 1861, in Company K, First Regiment of United States Mechanic Fusileers. This organization was composed of one company from a number of different States. Charles enlisted as a mechanical engineer and was assigned to duty at Camp Douglas where the troops spent three months in drilling and preparatory work. Owing to some dispute and dissatisfaction in regard to wages, some companies having been enlisted for $40 per month while others were promised only the usual soldier's pay, this organization was disbanded, Mr. Gager receiving his discharge February 1, 1862. Two weeks later he re-enlisted, becoming a member of Battery L, Second Regiment, Illinois Light Artillery. This regiment took part in many hard-fought battles and endured many privations and much exposure. It was assigned to duty at St. Louis and thence sent by boat to Pittsburg Landing, arriving just after the battle at that place. The battery was armed with the James Rifle cannon. These were worn out at the siege of Vicksburg and were replaced by the Rodman rifle.


One interesting feature in the history of this battery is the fact that the guns were so accurate and the cannoneers so expert that they were able to hit a bale of cotton at a distance of and one-half miles. Mr. Gager was present when his captain receipted for the battery ad its equipment and, the amount of the obligation was $80,000, the estimated value of the outfit. This battery participated in the siege of Corinth, the battle of Hatchies River and was in the expedition in the rear of Vicksburg where they were constantly under fire. They then returned to Memphis, went to Lake Providence and through Louisiana to Grand Gulf and thence to Port Gibson, later to Jackson, Miss., on to Champion Hill and thence to the siege and capture of Vicksburg. After its fall they were assigned to the defenses of the city, for having been in one protracted engagement for forty-seven days they needed and were entitled to a little rest. They were then sent as an advance guard in the fleet up the Yazoo River as far as Yazoo City, being on what was known as the Mosquito Fleet, guarding the Mississippi River to keep it open and intercept blockade runners.


Mr. Gager says the hottest place he ever found during his four years' service was at Jackson, Miss., where he had three horses killed from his gun team and was compelled to haul the guns away with mules taken from the supply train. The battery was assigned to Logan's Division and after the promotion of that illustrious General they were attached to his artillery corps until after the siege of Vicksburg when they were made independent and sent wherever flying artillery was needed. Mr. Gager has an army record of which he may justly be proud for his battery did effective service and no truer bravery was displayed on the field of battle. He received his discharge March 3, 1865, in Springfield, Ill., and returned to the home of his parents at Downer's Grove.


Our subject once more engaged in farming on the old homestead and December 23, 1866, was joined in wedlock with Miss Mary Talmage. Their only wedding journey was a trip of two weeks in a prairie schooner from Illinois to Iowa. The lady is a daughter of David and Sally (Plummer) Talmage, the father born March 13, 1800, in New York and the mother May 15, 1805, in New Hampshire. He died in Du Page County, Ill., in 1872, and after eleven years she passed away in 1883. Mrs. Gager is the youngest in their family of four children: Jane, born near Buffalo, N. Y., in 1831, died in Du Page County, Ill., aged nine years; John, born near Buffalo in 1835, married Hattie Reed and resides in Bellville, Republic County, Kan., where he is engaged in farming. They have four children living and lost one; George, who was born in Du Page County in 1840, married Lydia Gager, sister of our subject, and they reside in San Marcus, Tex., with their two children. Mrs. Gager was born February 9, 1843, in Du Page County, and by her marriage became the mother of four children: David F., born in this county March 6, 1868, died of diphtheria May 24, 1878; Albert A., born October 19, 1870; C. Juddie, born October 23, 1872, died of diphtheria May 16, 1878; and Edna A. born October 16, 1881, is a bright little girl, the joy of the parents' home. Both children belong to the Juvenile Templars.


The farm on which this family resides comprises two hundred and forty acres of fine prairie land and their home is a fine, commodious residence. The large barns are supplied with water that is conducted from the well near the house through pipes to the stable and pumped up by a wind engine, which is also used in shelling corn, grinding feed and sawing wood. This is a model farm lacking nothing, and is a monument to the owner's enterprise. In politics Mr. Gager is independent and in his social relations is a member of Hawkeye Post, No. 289, G. A. R.




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