James McCarney

On Christmas Eve, 1862 James McCarney enlisted in the Union Army. He was then 36 years old, not yet a U.S. citizen, and was living in Burnsville, Minnesota with his wife, Margery, and the five children that had been born to them by that time (Catherine, John, Maggie, Mary and James).

James enlisted in Company M, 1st Minnesota Mounted Rangers, a volunteer unit organized by one Captain Starkey. This unit mustered in at Fort Snelling (St. Paul) on December 30, 1862 and was scheduled to be deployed to "the
Indian Expedition." However, James seems never to have seen action for while with this unit at Fort Ridgely, Minnesota, during the winter/spring of 1862-63, James contracted severe rheumatism in his joints and total deafness in his right ear due to exposure standing guard watches and ‘leaky’ quarters. On August 19, 1863 and after a period of hospitalization, James received a Disability Discharge on the order of General Pope, the Commanding General.

At some time in the 1880s James filed for a U.S. Army pensions based on his Civil War service and his continuing disabilities (he became lamer and deafer with time). The pension was
granted in 1886 and was made retroactive to his date of discharge in 1863.

The disability award was made according to the following schedule:

20 Aug 1863 - 14 Aug 1881 $2/ month
15 Aug 1881 - 2 Apr 1884 $3/ month
3 Apr 1884 - 9 Dec 1886 $4/ month
27 Aug 1888 - death $16/ month

Presumably the McCarney family continued to draw upon this pension until the time of James' death in 1902 at the age of 74. His obituary states that "he had been ill for a long time with dropsy and considering his advanced age he was not able to endure the pains and suffering which this dreaded diseasee brought on..."

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Citizenship -- James McCarney was naturalized on October 21, 1873 at Litchfield, Meeker County, MN.

Soux Uprising -- In August 1862, the Santee Sioux of Minnesota under Chief Little Crow, angered by the failure of the Federal government to provide annuities and by the poor quality of rations, went on the offensive. They killed approximately 800 settlers and soldiers, took many prisoners, and caused extensive property damage throughout the Minnesota River Valley. Fort Ridgely, about twelve miles from the Lower Sioux Agency, became the refuge for white civilians. The fort's commander, Capt. John S. March set out with most of his men for the Lower Sioux Agency. Before reaching the agency, a large Native American force surprised the soldiers, killed half of them, including Marsh, and pursued the survivors back to the fort. On August 20th, about 400 Sioux attacked the fort but were repulsed. On the 22nd, 800 Sioux attacked the fort but the garrison and civilians held the fort.

On September 19, 1862, Col. Henry Hastings Sibley set out from Fort Ridgely with 1,500 volunteers to put down the Santee uprising. As they neared Wood Lake on Septernber 23, Sibley’s men escaped an ambush by 700 warriors under Chief Little Crow and engaged them in a battle. Sibley's force won the day inflicting heavy casualties on the Sioux. For this action, Sibley received a promotion to brigadier general. Wood Lake was the first decisive
defeat of the Sioux since the uprising began.

Disability -- File No. 342,524 in the National Archives contains copies of the Discharge papers, medical certifications, James' statement and description of his level of disability as well a statement by Margery McGinley McCarney (in her own hand) listing the nanes and brithdates of all their children and the circumstances of their wedding in Benton, Wisconsin.

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