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Charles Harrison Bristol

  • Birth 12 Mar 1840 Connecticut, USA
  • Death 23 Jul 1932 Numurkah, Moira Shire, Victoria, Australia
  • Burial Katunga, Moira Shire, Victoria, Australia
  • Plot Presbyterian Section, grave no. 620
  • Memorial ID 19391333

Charles Harrison Bristol was the eldest of the seven children of Stephen Bristol, and his wife, Harriet Hall, and was born at Middletown, Connecticut, on March 12, 1840. By 1850, the family were residents of New Haven, Connecticut, where father Stephen was practising in his trade as a house plumber. His mother passed away in 1859, followed, just two years later, by the death of his father. Charles, meanwhile had already been apprenticed as a painter.
His first term of service, during the American Civil War, commenced when he enlisted as a private in company G of the 2nd Regiment of Infantry, Connecticut Volunteers. This company was first known, when in state organisation, as company C. Charles enlisted at New Haven on April 22, 1861, and was mustered into United States service, together with the rest of the regiment, on May 7, 1861, at Brewster's Park, in New Haven. The regiment was commanded by Alfred Howe Terry, who was later to find fame as the overall commander, during the Indian Wars, of the troops participating in the Little Big Horn campaign, which culminated in the death of George Armstrong Custer. The 2nd Connecticut was involved in the first battle of Bull Run, in July, 1861, after which it was concerned with more mundane duties, and, at the expiration of its three month term of service, was mustered out at New Haven, on August 7, 1861.
Over a month later, on September 23, 1861, he enlisted, at New York, as a landsman in the United States Navy, under the assumed name of Charles Brown. The reason for taking on this assumed name is not known, but he remained in service for a period of just over three years, and was first sent for his basic naval training aboard the receiving vessel, at the Brooklyn Naval Yard, the North Carolina. He was then sent aboard the USS Unadilla, attached to the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron. This vessel was involved in several actions, including the battle of Port Royal, engagements with a Confederate floating battery on the Stono River, South Carolina, on May 25, 1862, as well as against Fort McAllister, on the Great Ogeechee River, Georgia, on July 29, 1862, and was involved in operations which resulted in the capture of the blockade runner, the Lodona, on August 4, 1862, at Ossabaw Sound, Georgia. Bristol later spent some twenty months aboard the USS Unadilla on blockading duty off the port of Charleston, South Carolina, and was able to witness the action of the ironclads, against the Charleston forts, and the city, in 1863. When he came down with fever, he was sent aboard the USS Wabash for a brief period of rest, before returning to duty. In the last few months of his naval service, Bristol (alias Brown) was transferred to the USS Britannia, a former blockade runner, which, after her capture in mid-1863, was converted to a United States gunboat, operating mainly in the North Carolina Blockading Squadron. Bristol, as Charles Brown, was discharged from the naval service on September 24, 1864, at Norfolk, Virginia, and was paid a hefty sum in wages and prize money. However, this was not the end of his military service, as, on December 17, 1864, and once again using his real name, Charles H. Bristol, he volunteered as a private, in company G of the 15th Regiment Connecticut Infantry, at New Haven, Connecticut, for a period of three years. Thus he was entitled to a bounty of $200, half of which, as a first instalment, was paid to him that same month. The descriptive roll, at the time of his enlistment in the 15th Connecticut, shows him as being a seaman with grey eyes, brown hair, dark complexion, and standing five feet, nine inches tall. Although the 15th Connecticut had been in service for more than two years, prior to Bristol's enlistment in its ranks, he was a part of those recruits taken into United States service in the final years of the war, to boost the ailing ranks of the Union Army, which had been decimated by battle deaths, as well as disease. Many of these recruits were known to enter the service only for the bounty offered, and were not known for their staying power. However, Bristol did remain with the regiment for some months, and was at Kinston, North Carolina, in March, 1865, when he was captured at South West Creek, North Carolina, on the eighth day of that same month, and then sent for confinement at Richmond, Virginia, March 23, 1865. Three days later he was paroled at Boulware and Coxes Wharf, Virginia, and sent to Camp Parole, in Maryland, from whence, on March 30, he was sent on a furlough of thirty days. Prior to leaving on his furlough, he was paid for the months of January and February, 1865, and this may have given him the incentive to remain away permanently, as he never returned to the regiment, at the end of his furlough. There is a notation, in his military service record, for the 15th Connecticut Infantry, that he was "transferred to the 7th Connecticut Volunteers on June 24, 1865, by order of General Scofield," but all other documentation point to the fact that he never returned to his unit, at the end of his furlough. It was quite obviously for this very reason that, in later years, when applying for the United States government pension, his application forms made note of his service within the 2nd Connecticut Infantry, as well as in the United States Navy, but omitted entirely, any mention of his service in the 15th Connecticut Infantry. As such, he was able to avoid detection as a deserter, and was able to obtain the pension later.
After he left the service, he then took to a seafaring life for about three years, and then, arriving in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, from New York, aboard the Kathair, at the beginning of 1868, Bristol decided to remain on terra firma, and took up the occupation of carpenter. He first settled in the town of Gisborne, for some two years, before moving to the Goulburn Valley. On the 19th day of October, 1876, Charles Bristol was married to Elizabeth Ann McCarron, at the home of her parents, William and Martha McCarron, in the little Victorian town of Kaarimba. The marriage certificate incorrectly shows Charles' surname as Bristoe, but this was certified as incorrect by Elizabeth, in later years, after the death of her husband, and when she applied for a widow's pension. Eleven children resulted from this marriage.
After residing in Australia for over 44 years, Bristol decided, in October, 1912, to apply for naturalization as an Australian citizen, and sent a letter to the Department of External Affairs. He was sent the necessary forms to fill out, and instructed on the proper procedure, by the Department. During the process of application, it was enquired of him, what his middle initial, "H" stood for, and Charles' reply was: "In reply to yours of the 12th I cannot say what the "H" stands for. I have not got any papers to refer to, all I know is that my Father always called me "Charles H. Bristol" and all my correspondence from my friends in America was and is still addressed to me as "Charles H. Bristol." Any further I do not know." It was obvious that Charles had forgotten what his middle name was, though documentary evidence, from the family genealogy shows that it was, indeed, Harrison. However, on February 15th, 1913, he was naturalized. By then he was already a resident of the town of Katunga, in Victoria, where he remained for the rest of his life, dying on Saturday, July 23, 1932, as a result of bronchitis and cardiac failure. He was buried two days later at the nearby Numurkah Cemetery. A notation in his death certificate indicates that he lived for a lengthy period of time in New South Wales, but this is almost certainly an incorrect entry, as proven by the births of his children, and other data shown in his marriage certificate, naturalization application papers, pension application, as well as his obituary.


1850 United States Census for New Haven, Connecticut.

1860 United States Census for New Haven, Connecticut.

"Bristol Genealogy", compiled by Warren Edwin Bristol, and published in 1967, by the Bristol Family Association, Inc.

Death certificate of Charles H. Bristol, at Katunga, Victoria, 1932.

Marriage certificate of Charles Bristoe (sic), at Kaarimba, Victoria, 1876.

Naturalization papers of Charles H. Bristol, National Archives of Australia, Canberra, A.C.T.

Obituary, death and funeral notices of Charles H. Bristol, from the Numurkah Leader, Tuesday, July 26, 1932, Tuesday, August 2, 1932, and Tuesday, August 23, 1932.

"Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion;" volumes 13 and 14; originally published 1902; reprint edition published 1987, by the National Historical Society, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Original research of the late Roy Parker, Barry Crompton, Bob Simpson, Len Traynor and Terry Foenander, and published in the volume, CIVIL WAR VETERANS IN AUSTRALIA, edited by Mrs. Virginia Crocker, 2000.





  • Created by: Terry Foenander
  • Added: 15 May 2007
  • Find A Grave Memorial 19391333
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Charles Harrison Bristol (12 Mar 1840–23 Jul 1932), Find A Grave Memorial no. 19391333, citing Numurkah Cemetery, Katunga, Moira Shire, Victoria, Australia ; Maintained by Terry Foenander (contributor 46909316) .