Id’d Body of Forage Cap of Private S.C. Wright Struck by Shrapnel at White Oak Swamp
Id’d Body of Forage Cap of Private S.C. Wright Struck by Shrapnel at White Oak Swamp – This cap was worn by Private Samuel Cole Wright of the 29th Massachusetts Infantry, when the 29th Mass. was engaged in action during the Battle of White Oak Swamp, just outside of Richmond, on June 30, 1862. During the battle, the brim of Wright’s cap was struck by shrapnel from an exploding Confederate artillery shell, wounding Wright and tearing the brim off of the cap. Glued to the exterior crown of the cap is a period, hand inked label that says: “Top of Army Cap showing effects of rebel shell at White Oak Swamp, Va. worn by S.C. Wright” Apparently, Wright’s blood loss from his wound, heavily stained both the lining and sweatband of the cap as both were removed; the chinstrap was also impacted and is gone, as well. The body of the cap and interior crown remain in overall very good condition; the deep blue color of the fine English broadcloth that composes the cap, remains strong. Wright would remain in the army throughout most of the war, but would be wounded three more times, with his final wound sustained during the ill-fated Union assault at the Battle of the Crater, on July 30, 1864, During this latter wounding. Wright lost an eye and was discharged. He would be awarded the Medal of Honor for the gallantry he exhibited during the Battle of Antietam. It is an extreme rarity to find an actual textile that exhibits a soldier’s wounding, as well as the period wearer be specifically identified to such a courageous and decorated soldier as Wright. Accompanying this cap is a picture taken of Wright when he first enlisted in the 29th Mass. – in the image, is this exact hat. Upon close examination of the hat today, one can discern the holes pierced in the front of the cap by Wright’s insignia. This is truly a fine identified and rare artifact.
Samuel Cole Wright
AT BLOODY LANE
SERGEANT SAMUEL C. WRIGHT, during his service in the War of
the Rebellion, participated in thirty battles. In those
engagements he was wounded five times and twice reported dead.
On one occasion he was shot directly in the right eye, and
still keeps the bullet as an awful souvenir of his closeness to
death. In speaking of the taking of the fence at Antietam, he
says nothing of his own action but describes the wild rush and
retreat of the volunteers for that desperate service.
“September 16, 1862, found our division (Richardson’s) in
the advance from South Mountain to Antietam, where we came upon
the enemy. The shot from the first piece of artillery fired
took off the leg of the color-bearer of my regiment. During
the afternoon of that day the artillery fight was at times very
lively. Early the next morning troops were sent to engage the
enemy in our front. The roar of cannon and small arms was
deafening. But, while, from where we lay we could only hear
the cannonading, we could not see the enemy, as a growth of
woods impaired our view. It was, perhaps, as well, that we
could not see the carnage wrought.
“Soon an aid-de-camp, whose horse was white with foam, rode
up to our position and ordered us to cross to the support of
the troops so hotly engaged. We left hurriedly, made a detour
to the right and left, and were soon fording Antietam Creek.
The stream was so deep, that in crossing, we had only to remove
the stoppers of our canteens and they would fill themselves.
We held rifles and ammunition above our heads. The opposite
bank reached, we removed our shoes, wrung out our stockings,
and were then ordered forward, straight toward the ‘Sunken
Road.’ Going up the hill we could see the cause of our sudden
call. The hill was strewn with dead and dying; yes, and with
those unhurt, for to stand was to be instantly killed by the
sharpshooters who filled the ‘Sunken Road.’ The main army in
line was only a few feet to the rear of them.
“Some 200 yards in advance of our position, which we were
holding at a terrible cost, was a fence built high and strong.
The troops in advance had tried to scale the fence and reform
under that hell of fire. They were actually torn in shreds and
wedged into the fence.
“The cry came to us for volunteers to pull down the fence.
Instantly there sprang from the long line, fast being shortened
as the ranks closed up over the dead, seventy-six volunteers.
We ran straight for the fence amid a hail of iron and lead, the
dead falling all about us, but to reach the fence was our only
thought. A part of the force reached it, and, as one would
grasp a rail it would be sent flying out of his hands by rifle-
“The fence leveled, we made the attempt to return, and it
was as hot for us on the retreat, as it had been on the
advance. Few escaped death or wounds. I had almost regained
my regiment, when I was hit. The line then successfully
pressed on, and the ‘Sunken Road,’ or ‘Bloody Lane,’ as it is
now known, was within our lines.”
Sergeant Wright’s intrepidity and fine soldierly qualities
were readily conceded by his superior officers and found
substantial recognition by two promotions on the field of
battle. He was further rewarded by being placed in charge of
the prisons at Paris, Ky., and Tazewell, East Tennessee.
Source: Deeds of Valor
|Residence Plympton MA; an 18 year-old Farmer. Enlisted on 5/18/1861 at Plympton, MA as a Private. On 5/22/1861 he mustered into “E” Co. MA 29th Infantry He Re-enlisted on 1/1/1864He was discharged for wounds on 2/3/1865 He was listed as: * Wounded 6/30/1862 White Oak Swamp, VA * Wounded 9/17/1862 Antietam, MD * Wounded 6/3/1864 Bethesda Church, VA * Wounded 7/30/1864 Petersburg, VA Other Information: born 9/29/1842 in Plympton, MA Member of GAR Post # 2 (Dahlgren) in South Boston, MA Member of GAR Post # 76 (Collingwood) in Plymouth, MA Held GAR Offices: * Post Commander # 76 died 11/14/1901 in Plympton, MA Buried: Oak Grove Cemetery, Plymouth, MA|
1890 Federal Census Information: He was living in Plympton, Plymouth county, MA