Appointed to the United States Military Academy in 1823, Clary graduated thirteenth in his class of 1828. Albert East. Church graduated first in merit, and later would become United States Military Academy professor of mathematics.
Graduating from the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York in 1828, he served in the quartermaster corps for most of his career. At the end of the American Civil War, he was awarded the honorary grade of brevet brigadier general. Their family could trace its line back to John and Sarah Clary who arrived in Watertown in 1640.
Springfield"s Walnut Street was named after the trees which lined the Clary property.
Commissioned a second lieutenant in the 5th United States. Infantry Regiment, Clary, like many in his class, was sent to the Jefferson Barracks at Saint Louis, Missouri. Clary served at various stations throughout the country prior to the Civil War.
Shortly after the outbreak of the Civil War, Clary was appointed chief quartermaster for the Department of West Virginia. In July 1862, he served as chief quartermaster of the short-lived Army of Virginia in the summer of 1862 under the command of Major
General John Pope. After that command was absorbed by the Army of the Potomac, Clary served as chief quartermaster in several army departments until August 1864 when he was placed in charge of the Memphis army depot, in which capacity he served until the end of the war.
On June 30, 1866, President Andrew Johnson nominated Clary for the award of the honorary grade of brevet brigadier general, United States.A., (Regular Army), to rank from March 13, 1865, and the United States. Senate confirmed the award on July 25, 1866. Post-Civil War career
Clary retired from the army on February 22, 1869 at the grade of colonel. He died March 19, 1890 at Washington, District of Columbia and was buried in Oak Hill Cemetery.
Clary"s first marriage to Esther produced five children who lived to adulthood.
Son Robert, Junior. would follow his father into the army, dying as captain in 1864. One daughter, Maria Louisa, married Charles Pomeroy Stone before the war, and died in 1862, leaving Stone with one infant daughter.