James Bergan

The Story of James Bergan
Civil War Hero
From the Chatsworth Plaindealer
January 29, 1970

James Bergan was born in Ireland in 1842. He came to America with his parents when he was eight years old. As soon as he was old enough, he began to work out as a farm hand and did so until 1862. 
When the Civil War began, he left his rented farm in the midst of harvest - evidently one of those sudden but decisive decisions so common to young men with a cause - to enlist in the army with the 77th Regiment Illinois Volunteer Infantry. 
James Bergan served under Grant and Logan, taking part in the siege of Vicksburg and at Johnston's evacuation of Jackson, Mississippi.
He was captured at Fort Gaines, Alabama, in July of 1864, and was taken to Mobile. Some of the enemy officers wanted to shoot their prisoners, but the privates interceded in the prisoners' behalf and their lives were spared. The Union prisoners were so hated that women in the streets spat in their faces. 
He was taken later to the infamous Andersonville Prison where filthy garb was substituted for his Union uniform. He was on of 37,000 men held prisoner in that miserable stockade which covered 17 acres. The death rate was 137 per 1,000. Prisoners were starved by the commander, who repeatedly cut rations two days at a time because two thirds of the men had voted for Lincoln.
The young Irishman spent over 10 months in Andersonville. His weight dropped to 110 from his normal 165 pounds. Only three of the men captured with him came out alive. 
In 1868 he settled in Livingston County and married Mary Boyle, who was also a native of Ireland.
James Bergan came to own two farms totaling 500 acres. He was the largest stock feeder in Livingston county, feeding as many as 300 head of cattle. He was school director, road commissioner, and township supervisor at various times. He was instrumental in enlarging the county farm and in rebuilding county buildings. 
He served on the committee in charge of construction of the monument in honor of soldiers of the Civil War from this county, which was erected in the northeast corner of the square in Pontiac. He represented Charlotte township and served as chairman of the committee. 
The life of James Bergan, a gallant fighting Irishman, has certainly added a bit of zest to accounts of Livingston county history.
Grandsons of James Bergan, Charles and John Bergan, live on the original farmlands located five miles northwest of Chatsworth.
Other grandchildren living in the immediate area are Mrs. Claude Freehill of Melvin, and of Chatsworth, Dale Bergan, Mrs. William Sterrenberg and Don Bergan, who provided this picture and information to the Plaindealer.