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National Society United States Daughters of 1812--Eliza Monroe Chapter--March 2014 Meeting

Originally published 20 Feb 2014

During the next meeting of the Eliza Monroe Chapter of the US Daughters of 1812, we have been invited to speak briefly about our ancestors who served during the War of 1812. My third great grandfather, Ira Carley, was about 23 years old when he enlisted in the Army in August 1814. At that time a call had gone out through New York for enlistments. There was great fear of an impending British attack on New York City. Ira, who lived in Sidney, New York, responded to the call and was subsequently transferred to Fort Greenwich, near New York City. His pension file, which I found at the National Archives in Washington, DC provides a heart-rending account of what happened to him during his time at Fort Greenwich.

On June 28, 1850, Ira told his story to a Delaware County, NY judge while under oath. He was applying for an invalid pension. An excerpt of his declaration was recorded by the clerk of court as follows:

"On or about the first day of October 1814, some notice, an alarm, was given of the approach of some ships of the British Navy, and on that account the regiment, by general orders, slept on their arms, and in the night, or near morning, about 4 o'clock, before day light, an order was given to turn out, by beat of drum, and while the said company of soldiers were making out of their tents, the said Carley - (this declarant) seized his piece, having the bayonet reversed upon the muzzle, and ran with it upon his shoulder, and in the dark tripped his foot against a cord of a marquee tent near the place of parade, and fell violently and the muzzle of the Declarant was by such fall thrown forward, and fell on declarant's left shoulder sliding over it so as to bring the point of the bayonet on the top of his shoulder on the shoulder joint, and passed into the shoulder near the joint about three inches, making a severe flesh wound and injuring the bone and joint, and yet declarant went onto the parade ground, when the wound bleeding profusely the Ensign's attention was called, and declarant, feeling the effects of the wound severely, was ordered by the said Ensign Goodrich to repair to the surgeon's tent . . ."

One might initially think Ira quite foolish for having his bayonet reversed. Though I know little about bayonets, I suspect the soldiers reversed their bayonets when not in combat to prevent injuring themselves and their comrades. If someone could direct me to a book that would confirm this, I would be appreciative.

Fortunately, Ira's older brother was in the same regiment. He was called to be with his brother in the surgeon's tent, and I hope was able to give Ira some comfort and reassurance. Not long after, Ira was discharged from the Army and returned home. He was disabled for the rest of his life, but then, he was lucky to have survived given the extent of the injury and the potential for infection. He died in 1876 at age 85.

I think of how difficult it must have been for him for the rest of his life with such an injury. He was a farmer with an arm that had little function. Yet he ran the farm and he and his wife, Rubisa, successfully raised seven children to adulthood. He persevered. He is the ilk of ancestor whom I admire most, and who makes me feel most enriched.

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