Dear Brethren, - In a late number of the Religious Herald, I have seen an interesting biographical sketch of John Carey - an old disciple - and shall feel obliged if you will transfer it to the pages of your valuable periodical. It was written, I presume, by my old Pastor, Rev. O. B. Brown, as it bears his initials, and deserves a more permanent home than a weekly paper can give.
John Carey was received as a member of the 1st Baptist church, Washington City, within a few months of the time when I united with it; and having been myself actively engaged from 1812 to 1814, in defending our Common Country against an invading foe, I could not but feel a special regard for the man who had waited upon the person of [George] Washington, throughout the Revolutionary struggle. I rejoice to know, that John enjoyed the infinitely higher honor of waiting upon the Great Captain of our Salvation, to the day of his death; who according to his promise brought off the old soldier at last, more than conqueror.
Spencer H. Cone.
Died, in Washington City, D. C., at 9 o'clock, P. M., on the 2d of June, JOHN CAREY, in the 114th year of his age.
He was of African descent, born in Westmoreland county, Virginia, in the month of August, 1729. He was born free, his mother having been emancipated before his birth. General Washington, who was born in the same county, and was two years and a half younger than John, was much pleased with him from his youth, for his energy, his fidelity, and his decision of character; traits which Washington knew how to appreciate as well in an humble African, as in one of his own complexion; and in his earliest military campaigns, employed him as his personal servant. In this capacity, he was with General, then Col. Washington, on the battlefield of Monongahela, on the 9th of July, 1755, when Gen. Braddock was defeated and slain, and where Washington by his ability and prudence, saved the wreck of the British army, and laid the foundation of his future military fame.
He continued with Washington to the close of his military services in that war. When Washington was appointed commander-in-chief of the revolutionary army, the faithful John Carey accompanied him to the field, and was with him in all his military career as generalissimo of the republican forces. Sometimes he served in the ranks of the army, and sometimes he was the personal attendant of his revered general. He loved Gen. Washington as a child loves his father; and till within a short time of his death, he would talk of scenes and battles of both the wars, with a memory as perfect as of events just past; and in such minute accordance with the records of history, as to show that he had been a close observer of the deeds of the great Washington.
At the close of the revolutionary war, when taking his final leave of his commander, Gen. Washington presented him one of his military coats, the same which he had worn in the siege of Yorktown, when he consummated his military glory, as a token of his approbation and esteem of the fidelity of this devoted servant and patriot. This coat, John often wore to church, till within the last fifteen years. He set a value upon it above all price, as a memento of his beloved General; and though reduced to extreme poverty, no offers of money could induce him to part with it. John was full six feet high, about the size of the general he had served, and the coat suited him quite well. He has died in its possession, and the coat is quite a curiosity. It is of a coarse texture, a fair sample of the times in which it covered the greatest national chieftain that ever lived, in the person of the commander of the armies of a new republican empire, struggling for existence. It is of blue cloth with buff facings and large flat gilt buttons; in the same fashion of that in the National Institute, which he wore when he resigned his commission.
After the war, John Carey resided in Westmoreland county, Va., for many years, where he became a hopeful subject of divine grace, and was baptized by the late Rev. Henry Toler. He afterwards removed to Washington; and for the last 28 years of his life, he has been an exemplary member of the First Baptist Church in this city. His piety has never been doubted by those who knew him. He was always clear in the doctrine of salvation by the grace of God, in the Lord Jesus Christ; and as he advanced in years, that Saviour who first taught him to hope in his mercy, became more and more precious to his soul. If martial scenes which engrossed a full portion of his earlier manhood, often recurred to the memory of his declining years with enlivening interest, the manifestation of his Saviour’s love, and the prospect which it opened to him of brighter scenes than mortal vision could endure, would often kindle his soul into rapture. He retained his faculties remarkably well for his age, though the infirmities of such a weight of years necessarily weakened the powers of his mind. But in every infirmity, Jesus Christ and his promises were first in his mind; and to the last period of his mortal life, he manifested an unshaken confidence in God his Saviour, which bore him triumphantly through the vale of death.
Since the decline of life deprived him of strength to labor, he has subsisted partly on the bounties of the benevolent, but in a great measure upon the regular allowance made him by the church to which he belonged. The military roll in which his name stood during the revolutionary war, is believed to have been destroyed when the war office was burnt in 1800 or 180l; and for want of the evidence required, he was never placed on the pension list. At an early period of the late session of Congress, the Hon. G. W. Briggs of Massachusetts, becoming acquainted with his character and condition, brought forward a joint resolution, to grant him a pension for the remainder of his life, which passed the House of Representatives, but in the Senate it was lost. When that resolution was pending, the writer of this told him what Mr. Briggs was doing. He responded with a prayer. that the Lord would reward Mr. Briggs for his kindness to a poor unworthy servant of God; but, added he, “I need but little, and but for a very little time.” The Lord however, raised him friends, and he did not suffer while he lived.
He has left a wife of about three score years and ten, who gave him all the assistance he needed in his infirmity. The last Sabbath of his life, he walked out and attended the public worship of God. On Monday morning, he told his wife he should leave her this week, for his Lord had called him, and he should cheerfully obey the summons. Monday night, he was taken with a chill, which proved the secession of vitality. - He continued however, till Friday night, when he fell asleep.
While on earth he lived obscurely great; for he glorified God in his body and spirit. In the depth of poverty he enjoyed the blessing of royalty; for God his Saviour resided with him, and lived in his heart. In the confidence of faith, he realized that he was born a prince of the kingdom of glory. God was his Father; Christ his brother; angels were his ministers; and heaven was his destination. In the assurance of this hope, he lived above the world, waiting for the happy moment which should change his faith to vision, and consummate his hope in glory.
O. B. B.
Washington, June 3rd, 1843.
[The Baptist Memorial and Monthly Chronicle, 1843, pp. 265-267; via Google Books On-line. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.].
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