Saturday, January 5, 2013

Captain Charles Wright Part Three: The War of 1812

In 1807, at the age of sixty-eight, Charles and his brother Freedom were appointed overseers of the poor for the town of Harrisburg, of which the village of Denmark was a part at the time. This was decided at Freedom’s tavern where the second part of the town meeting was held. Freedom and his tavern will be addressed in a future blogpost.

Charles, in Ancestry, is listed as having been in the New York militia during the War of 1812, Carter’s regiment, the 101st,  despite his advanced age of seventy-three. His rank is that of a captain at the beginning and the end of his service. This could not have been his son, Charles Jr., as he was listed as being a private in the same regiment. However, Hough reports in History of Lewis County, New York: with illustrations and biographical sketches of some of its prominent men and pioneers: “A company of Silver Greys or Exempts, was formed in this town, under Charles Wright, during the war. It never found occasion for service”. Silver Grey companies appear to have been formed of men who were exempt from service, usually due to their age, but who were deemed fit enough to serve. If Charles was also in the 101st under Colonel Zeboam Carter, then he did see service in the war. Hough describes their participation as follows:

A call en masse was made, and the militia of the county served in one regiment, under Colonel Carter, from July 30th to Aug. 22, 1814, at Sackett's Harbor. General Martin was on duty upon this occasion. The last call en masse was made Oct. 7, 1814, and the militia of Lewis county were comprised in four consolidated companies under Colonel Carter. They served at Sackett's Harbor till Nov. 11, 1814. 

He concludes his discussion of Lewis County’s participation in the War of 1812 with:

The above comprises the military service of the citizens of Lewis county during the war. The settlements were frequently alarmed by rumors of Indian invasions from Canada. The route through the county became a thoroughfare of armies, and every resource of the valley was called into use to supply the troops passing through, or the garrison on the frontier.

If he did not serve, but only was part of a Silver Grey company which did not see service, then at least several of his sons served in Carter’s 101st, including Charles Jr. (private), Stephen S. (musician, fifer), Tyrannus Augustus (private), Erastus (private), Chester (sergeant), and Nathan (corporal). (Matthew Miles Wright is not recorded as being part of this regiment, but may have served elsewhere). The sons of Charles’s brother Freedom who served in the same regiment include Asa Douglas (quarter master), and Freedom Jr. (private then sergeant).

(It is a somewhat odd feeling to be a Canadian and have so many relatives who fought against my country during the War of 1812, a war which is credited with helping to forge the nation of Canada. There was no one on any of my direct lines living in Canada at the time, however, to my knowledge).

Captain Charles Wright, one of favourite ancestors, died on July 13, 1820, likely in Copenhagen, Lewis, New York. I have not been able to ascertain where he is buried. He was a family man; a soldier; a military, civic and church leader; a patriot; a pioneer; and last, but not least, a songwriter. He must have had a wonderful sense of humour judging by the circumstances of the writing of The Keg and the Law, discussed in the previous blogpost. He sounds like he must have been “a man’s man”. He is probably among my five top ancestors whom I would like to have met--maybe in the next world.

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