1864: Carey Campbell Wright to William C. Wright

Carey C. Wright, Co. B, 47th Illinois Infantry

This letter was written by Carey C. Wright (1834-1913) who enlisted as a corporal in Co. B, 47th Illinois Infantry at Peoria, Illinois, on 16 August 1861. At the time of his enlistment he was described as a 27 year-old, six foot tall farmer with auburn hair and auburn eyes. He gave his birthplace as Brown county, Ohio. When he mustered out of the service on 11 October 1864 as the 1st Sergeant of Co. B, he gave his residence as Tazewell county, Ohio.

Carey was the son of James R. Wright (1807-1883) and Melinda Bayne (1813-1886) of Decatur, Brown county, Ohio. In 1860, the Wright family was living near Washington, Tazewell county, Illinois. They later moved to McLean county, Illinois, then to Appanoose County, Iowa, and finally Franklin county, Kansas. Carey was married to Persis Catharine Muzzy (1847-1920) and together they had at least three children.

Transcription

Memphis, Tennessee
September 15, 1864

Dear Brother,

As I have not much to do this morning, I thought I would write you a few lines though I do not know what to write. We have so little news. The most important just now is the duty we have to perform is quite heavy, and the boys are complaining very much about it. Since the 1st & 3rd Divisions have left, it takes all the troops to do the necessary guard and fatigue duty in and around the city. The detail from our company this morning called for 16 privates & 3 non com officers. I could not fill the detail for privates & use those men I had on fatigue duty yesterday by 5 men, the balance of our men all being on duty. Several of the boys are complaining of being unwell and I am afraid we will have the shakes again if we stay here. Whether we will get off from here about the 20th is a question. Col. McClure says General Washburn told him he would give him 5 days to go from here and be mustered out at Springfield. The Colonel says he is going to try him again on the 19th to let us off the 20th. But how he will succeed, time alone will tell.

For the last 4 or 5 days the weather has been hot in the daytime & almost cold enough for the frost—last night the coldest, and I expect you have had some frost up in Illinois.

We have not heard anything from General Mower & his command except there was a prospect of a march ahead of them but we cannot tell anything about it.

21 September 1864, Times-Picayune (New Orleans) account of explosion at Fort Pickering gives rather gruesome particulars.

We had quite an explosion here a few mornings since in Fort Pickering. A pile of shell laying somewhere inside the fort exploded. A negro was fooling around somewhere near smoking when they exploded with a terrific noise, killing 4 or 5 persons who were somewhere near at the time. 1

I have not received any letter yet & there is no mail today for our regiment. There is a rumor that Mobile has been captured. We got a Chicago Tribune this morning of the 12th. The draft does not yet seem to have taken effect.

The Major has been back since I wrote you last. He is busy fixing up his matters & the officers are all expecting to get out of service soon. Most of the 100 days men have gone home from here but they must keep us who have served three years two months over our time. For my part, I do not say anything but think it is a piece of great injustice. But we must take it quietly. Nothing more at present but remain your affectionate brother, — Carey C. Wright


1 The New York Times reported on 18 September 1864: “About nine o’clock on Tuesday morning last, the citizens of Memphis were startled by one of the most terrific explosions ever heard there; a shell house under the banks, in Fort Pickering, containing some two hundred and fifty shells, exploded killing two men, one a negro soldier and the other an Irish laborer, and wounding several negro soldiers. One died during the day of his wounds. It was found upon examination that 110 shells had exploded. The explosion was occasioned by sparks from the steamer Neill.Actually, the cause of the accident was unknown.

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