A Cadet in 1857, Charles H. Brightly was brevet 2nd lieutenant, promoted to 2nd lieutenant, promoted 1st to lieutenant
and assigned to the Fourth Infantry in June of 1861. In June of 1862 he was Aide-de-Camp (with the rank of Major of
Volunteers). He was on mustering and disbursement duty at Trenton, New Jersey for part of 1862 and most of 1863.
He was promoted to Captain in September of 1862.

In May of 1864, while leading the Regiment during the Battle of the Wilderness, Captain Brightly was mortally
wounded. He died, June 9th, 1864, at Norristown, Pennsylvania, from these wounds.