Diary of Brigadier-General Marcus J. Wright, C. S. A.

Material Information

Diary of Brigadier-General Marcus J. Wright, C. S. A. April 23, 1861 - February 26 1863
Wright, Marcus Joseph, 1831-1922
Place of Publication:
[n. p
Publication Date:
Physical Description:
8 p. : front. (port.) ; 24 cm.


Subjects / Keywords:
History -- Personal narratives, Confederate -- United States -- Civil War, 1861-1865 ( lcsh )
non-fiction ( marcgt )
autobiography ( marcgt )

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Florida
Holding Location:
Department of Special Collections and Area Studies, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
024810936 ( ALEPH )
ADH3114 ( NOTIS )
35023562 ( LCCN )
05313180 ( OCLC )

Full Text


Brigadier-General Marcus J. Wright, C. S. A.
April 23, 1861-February 26, 1863

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Brigadier-General Marcus J. Wright, C. S. A.
April 23, 1861-February 26, 1863


Brigadier-General Marcus Joseph Wright C. S. A.,
From April 23, 1861, to February 26, 1863*

On the 23 April 1861 being in command of the 154 Senior Regiment
of Tennessee Volunteers as lieutenant-colonel,1 Colonel Preston Smith being
absent on official business at Montgomery, Ala. I received an order by tele-
graph from Governor Isham G. Harris to proceed with a portion of my
command and the Steuben Artillery to some point above Memphis on the
Miss. River. I laid this order before the Military Board at Memphis and
being furnished by them with means of transportation, subsistence stores,
etc. I left Memphis at 12 o'clock at night with two companies of Infantry,
Light Guards, Capt. Genette and Southern Guards, Capt. -----_ (illegible)
and the Steuben Artillery and landed at Randolph 60 miles above Memphis
about 10 o'clock next morning. The troops were at once encamped and a
temporary organization made for the Battalion2 July 28, 1861. The Army
under Brig. Gen. Pillow left Randolph by Steam Boat and arrived at New
Madrid, Mo. the 29.8 Remained encamped at this point (having been trans-
*Marcus Joseph Wright was born in Purdy, McNair county, Tenn., in 1881.
He was the son of Capt. Benjamin Wright of the 39 Regular Infantry who served
in the War of 1812 and the Mexican War, and grandson of Capt. John Wright of
the Georgia Line, Continental Army. He practiced law and entered the Confederate
Army in May, 1861, as lieutenant-colonel of the 154 Senior Regiment of Tennessee
Infantry; promoted brigadier-general Dec. 20th, 1862. He was present at many
battles of the Army of Tennessee and was wounded at Shiloh. He was a member
of the Southern Historical Assn. Southern Historical Society, Washington, D. C.,
Historical Society, and Alabama Historical Society. He was author of Life of Gen-
eral Winfield Scott in the Great Commander Series, Life of Governor William Blount;
co-author with Gen. A. L. Long of Life of Robert E. Lee. He wrote many other
works of an historical character and contributed extensively to various encyclo-
pedias and magazines. On July 1, 1878 he was appointed Agent for the Collection of
Confederate Records for the War Department and served in this capacity until the
Civil War Records were published by the Government. In the General Index volume
of these records Secretary of War, Elihu Root, says:
"In view of the distrust with which the Southern people for a while
naturally regarded the movements made by the government with a view to
the procurement of the records of the Confederacy, it is not surprising that
the efforts of the Department to complete its Confederate files met at first
with slight success or assistance. However, Marcus J. Wright. formerly a
brigadier-general in the Confederate army, was appointed July 1, 1878, Agent
for the Collection of Confederate Records and in this capacity he continued
employed until the completion of the work. Through his efforts and tact
the attitude of the Southern people towards the compilation became more
cordial and as their confidence increased records were brought out from their
places of concealment and forwarded to the Department as gifts or deposited
as loans." Mr. Root quotes Secretary of War Proctor: "Gen. Marcus J.
Wright, formerly of the Confederate army, has been continued as Agent for
the Collection of Confederate Records and his position in the work is next
in importance to a position upon the Board itself." In The American Civil
War, James K. Hosmer, N. Y., 1918, II. 315, the author says: "The collec-
tion (referring to Civil War records) thus preserved was greatly increased
by the efforts of Gen. Marcus J. Wright, C. S. A., who, now in the service
of the United States, spent years in an indefatigable search among the
survivors of the "lost cause" for papers that might be of value."
Gen. Wright died in Washington, D. C., on Dec. 27, 1922.
1 The 154 Regiment of Tenn. Volunteers is always referred to in the various
reports found in the Records of the Civil War as Senior Regiment. It was the
senior regiment of Tenn. infantry which distinction always appears as a part of
its designation. When it entered the Confederate service it retained its old militia
2 These troops were simply a detachment and so it was necessary to organize
them into a battalion for command and administration.
8 While Colonel Wright was encamped at Randolph his command built a large
bastioned fort on the east bank of the Miss. river about 10 miles north of Ran-
dolph on a high bluff about opposite Osceola, Kas. This fort was named Fort
Wright. (See Atlas of the Civil War Records, plate CLXXI.)

ferred to the Provisional Army of the Confederate States on 13, Aug.),4
until the 15, Aug. Then we marched (the 154 Tenn. 4 Tenn. 13 Tenn.
regiments under Col. McCown 16 miles to Sikestown5 16 August. Moved
to Watkins farm 18 miles. Remained here until 2 Sept., when we marched
to New Madrid and took Steam Boat which landed us at Island No. 10
on the 3rd. Remained at Island No. 10 until the 8th when we landell at
Columbus, Ky. Remained in camp here until 15 September when we marched
to Mayfield, Ky. and returned to Columbus on the 22d of Sept. Camped
and in a few days commenced erecting Winter Quarters.
November 7, 1861. This day was fought the Battle of Belmont oppo-
site Columbus. My regiment lost one man killed and 13 wounded. My
Brother John V. Wright Comdg. 13 Tenn. Regt. had his horse shot under
him and received a severe injury of the hip. I commanded the 154 in this.
Col. Smith commanded the brigade. We pursued the enemy to their gun-
boats. I had a sharp fight. We captured some wagons, guns and clothing
and some of Gen. Grant's Hdq. papers. Col. Smith, being assigned to the
command of a Brigade, I assumed command of the Regiment.6
January. I was appointed Military Governor of Columbus by Gen.
Polk and continued in this position until March 1, 1862.7 When Columbus
was evacuated we moved by way of Clinton to camp 13 miles from Columbus.
Sunday March 2d. Marched by way of Casey's Station to Union City.
Tuesday March 4th. Went by railroad to Humboldt. Was appointed
Military Governor of Humboldt by Gen. Polk. Heard of the death of
Capt. W. J. Whitsitt of Co. A who was Provost Marshall under me at
Friday March 14. My wife and children came up from Memphis. Re-
ceived orders and went by rail to Jackson where I left my family with Mr.
Welch. Arrived at Bethel Station on the night of the 14 and ordered to
Purdy my old home and Birthplace where the remains of my Father and
Mother and many dear relatives lie buried.9
On constant heavy Picket duty here, the enemy in large force being
8 miles in our front near Crump's Landing, Tenn. River. The enemy's
4 Previously these troops were a part of the Provisional Army of Tennessee.
5 Col. John P. McCown, later major-general.
6 John V. Wright, brother of Marcus J., was a lawyer and had served in the
lower house of the U. S. Congress. While suffering from the effect of his wound
received at Belmont he was elected to the Confederate Congress where he remained
until the close of the war. An interesting incident occurred at Belmont. As the
regiment of Col. M. J. Wright advanced against the Federals it came in sight of
a Federal log hospital in front of which were two mounted Federal officers. At
this moment two other Federal officers ran from the hospital to a corn field,
jumped the fence and disappeared in the woods. They were well within range of
Wright's men, a number of whom cocked their muskets and prepared to fire; but
Col. Wright stopped them as at this early stage of the war individuals' were not as
a rule fired upon by troops in formation. On the day after the battle Gen. Cheat-
ham met Col. Hatch of Gen. Grant's staff under a flag of truce and Col. Hatch
said that the fleeing officers were Gen. Grant and himself. A few days later Gen.
Cheatham met Gen. Grant on a flag-of-truce boat and Grant confirmed the state-
ment made by Hatch: (A. L. Conger, The Rise of U. S. Grant, N. Y., 1931, 109;
ef. Southern Historical Society Papers No. 16, 82). While the Federals were driven
aboard their gun-boats at Belmont, the Confederate attack was led by Lt. Col.
Marcus J. Wright (cf. report of Col. Preston Smith in Civil War Records, Series
I, vol. III. 846).
7 The order appointing Col. Wright Military Governor of Columbus. Ky., is
dated Feby. 3, 1862; cf. Civil War Records Series I, vol. VII, 857.
8 The order appointing Col. Wright Military Governor of Columbus, Ky., also
designated Capt. Whitsitt as Provost Marshal.
9 Gen. Wright's mother, Martha Ann Wright (Hicks) was born in Dinwiddie
county, Va. She first married Herbert Harwell, by whom she had five children.
By her marriage with Capt. Wright she had three children, John V. and Marcus J.
Wright and Mrs. Elizabeth Crump. Gen. Wright married first Martha Spencer
Elcan of Memphis, Tenn. His second wife was Pauline Womack, daughter of
Judge John W. Womack of Eutaw, Ala. Some interesting notes on the Wright-
Harwell-Elean-Crump families may be found in Marcus J. Wright, Reminiscence of
the Early Settlement and Early Settlers of McNairy County, Tenn., Washington,


cavalry dashed in on our picket beyond Perdy which was under command
of Lieut. Creighton. They captured one man and lost a horse. They were
led by Fielding Hurst.10
April 5th. Left Purdy at daylight, marched 23 miles and bivouaced
in line of battle.
April 6th and 7th. The Battle of Shiloh was fought. I was in com-
mand of my regiment from 12 o'clock the 6th during the remainder of the
two days engagement. I received a slight wound on my right knee. A
ball passed through my saddle and into my horse. Killed, wounded and
missing in my regiment 198: Killed, 26, wounded 163, missing 9.11
Late in the evening of the 7th the army withdrew from the field and
marched to Michie's Cross Road and on the 9th marched to Corinth.
Retreat from Corinth. Corinth Thursday 29, May, 1862. The army
under Gen. Beauregard moved out from its position at Corinth at night,
the rear of the army getting out at daylight. March 12 miles and bivouaced
about 3 pm. the 30th. Moved forward at 5 o'clock a.m. the 31st and marched
20 miles to Baldwin. Left Baldwin the 7th June and marched 8 miles to
Guntown and from there to Tupelo.
The army left Tupelo 22d July, the artillery and wagon train going
through the country, the Infantry via Mobile, Montgomery, to Chattanooga.
Gen. Bragg commands the army.

The March from Chattanooga; into Kentucky
Aug. 21. The army left Chattanooga and crossed the Tennessee River
at Harrison 14 miles on the 22. Camped on the 22d at the Union Baptist
Church 10 miles from Harrison. Remained at this Camp (for the balance
of the Army to cross the River) until 28 Aug, when we moved forward at
4 o'clock a.m. Marched 9 miles to Sale Creek Camp Ground where we
remained until the morning of the 30, 4yz o'clock when we ascended Wal-
den's Ridge, marching 8 miles.
Aug. 31. Descended Walden's Ridge distance 8 miles to Sequatchie
Valley and encamped on Sequatchie River (the word Sequatchie in
English is "hog.")
Sept. 1st. Moved up the Valley today to Pikesville, distance 8 miles,
and within two miles of the Cumberland Mountains.
Sept. 2. Made the ascent of the Cumberland Mountains, travelling all
day and night and encamped at Caney Fork, having travelled 21 miles.
Sept. 3. Moved forward 13 miles arriving at Sparta and encamped
on the River Calf-Killer one and one quarter miles from Town.
Sept. 4. Remained in camp at Sparta. Sent out Battle Flags for
the 1st Division Right Wing Army of the Mississippi.
Sept. 6. Marched 17 miles and encamped on Gainsboro road.
Sept. 7. Moved forward passing through Gainsboro and encamped on
the Cumberland River, distance 23 miles. Met Col. Jaques 1st La. Inf.
Sept. 8. Moved forward across the river wading it up to the crotch.
Camped at a fine spring 7 miles distance from starting point.
10 Fielding Hurst was born in McNairy Co., Tenn., and was here operating
against his own people. After Shiloh he was commissioned by Andrew Johnson,
Governor of Tennessee, to raise the 6th (Federal) Tennessee Cavalry. In Oct., 1862,
he commanded the 1st West Tennessee Cavalry. In Nov., 1862, his regiment served
under Gen. Grant in the Columbus, Ky., district.
11 In the report on this battle made by 'Major-General B. F. Cheatham, com-
manding Col. Wright's division, he refers to Col. Wright as "an efficient and gal-
lant officer" and says Lt. Col. Marcus J. Wright are all highly commended
for gallantry and efficiency." (Civil War Records, Series I, vol. X, 437, 443.)
Col. Preston Smith Col. Wright's brigade commander said in his report: "I beg
leave to speak particularly of the gallant bearing of and Lieut. Col. Marcus
J. Wright (Ibid., 448). He also said: "I cannot close this report without expressing
my profound thanks to Lieut. Col. Wright who, though struck on the leg Sunday
by a ball which gave him much pain, continued with the command giving me most
valuable aid." (Ibid., 449.)


Sept. 9. Moved forward passing through Centerville and encamped on
the ground where Col. Morgan fought and drove the enemy, capturing the
commanding officer. At Tompkinsville, Ky. distance 21 miles.
Sept. 10. Remained in camp.
Sept. 11. Moved forward nine miles and encamped on Peter's Creek
on the Glasgow road.
Sept. 12. Moved 18 miles to Glasgow and encamped. Some demonstra-
tions of enthusiasm shown by citizens.
Sept. 13 and 14.-Remained in camp.
Sept, 15. Two day's rations having been prepared, moved this morn-
ing at S o'clock and marched until 11 o'clock at night towards Munfords-
ville--distance 12 miles. Encamped near Bear Wallow.
Sept. 16. Moved forward this morning at 5 o'clock; crossed Green
River 4 miles above the Garrison and town of Munfordsville and bivouaced
in line of battle in rear of the enemy's works; Gen. Cheatham's Head Quar-
ters being in a grave yard. At 12 o'clock learned that the enemy 4500 strong
had surrendered to Gen. Bragg who was in their front with the Left Wing
of the Army of the MKiss.
Sept. 17. The enemy 4300 strong drawn up in line laid down their
arms. We got here 10 pieces of artillery and a large quantity of Ordnance
and other stores. Moved forward 8 miles to Beaver Creek and encamped.
Sept. 18. Ordered back in a violent rain storm to Munfordsville. Moved
three miles and the order was countermanded. Bivouaced on the road in
a pelting rain all night.
Sept. 19. Returned to Munfordsville.
Sept. 20. Moved forward 21 miles and camped near Nolin.
Sept. 21. Marched 10 miles and camped at Hodgensville.
Sept. 22. Passed Muldranghs Ridge and New Haven; distance to
camp 22 miles.
Sept. 23. Passed through Bardstown and encamped 4 miles from Town
on the Danville toad.
Sept. 24, 25, 26. Remained in camp. Called to see Miss Hardin _--__
(illegible) of Mrs. Judge Dixon of Memphis.
Sept. 27, 28, 29. Oct. 1, 2, 3. In camp.
Marched forward 3d Oct. and encamped near Fredrick on Beech Fork
of Salt River-distance 9 miles.
Oct. 4. Marched 15 miles and camped on Beech Creek passing through
Oct. 5. Passed through Perryville and March to Camp 18 miles at
Mrs. Reeds.
Oct. 6. Passed through Danville and marched 14 miles to camp at
Oct. 7. Moved out from Harrodsburg at sundown and arrived at
Perryville at midnight. Gen. Hardee with the Left Wing being in line of
battle, the 1st Division of the Right Wing being under Gen. Cheatham-
bivouced on the left in line of battle on a ridge below the town of Perry-
Oct. 8. Battle of Perryville. The two armies were formed in line of
battle the town of Perryville between them. The action with the left wing
(Gen. Hardee) opened between 12 and 1 o'clock. At 2 o'clock three brigades
of the right wing, to wit, Donelson's Stewarts and Maney's (Smith being
held in reserve) under command of Maj. Gen. Cheatham, were moved from
their position on the left to the right and moved into action engaging the
enemy about 3 o'clock. The engagement here on our right soon became
one of the fiercest on record and was continued until dark. We captured 15
pieces of artillery, killed one and wounded two brigadier-generals. The
S12 Those desiring to follow this long march of the army from Chattanooga into
Kentucky are referred to Plate 150, Atlas of the Civil War Records.

loss of the right wing in killed and wounded was 1440, the whole loss of
our army amounted to -------- (blank).
The Line of Retreat from Kentucky
Oct. 9. The army slept last night on the field of battle and moved
out at daylight this morning to Harrodsburg.
Oct. 10. Arrived at camp one mile from Bryantsville-distance from
Harrodsburg 16 miles.
Oct. 11 and 12. Remained in camp.
Oct. 13. Moved at daylight through Bryantsville and "Camp Dick
Robertson" and Lancaster and camped--distance 19 miles.18
Oct. 14. Crossed Dick's River and Crab Orchard and camped at Mount
Vernon-19 miles.
Oct. 15. March 8 miles to Big Rock Castle River and encamped, the
enemy skirmishing with our rear. Passed "Camp Wild Cat."14
Oct. 16. Marched 5 miles to Little Rock Castle River and encamped.
Skirmishing still kept up with the enemy steadily following us up.
Oct. 17. Passed London and camped at Laurel Creek-16 miles. Pris-
oners brought in report that Crittenden's army corps of 4 divisions is in
our rear.
Oct. 18. Marched 18 miles, passing through Barboursville and camped
on the Cumberland.
Oct. 19. Left Barboursville and moved through Flat Lick along the
margin of the Cumberland River to Cumberland Ford-distance 16 miles.
I here discharged the most unpleasant duty of my military career. Sixteen
Bushwhackers (unauthorized and unenlisted men) including the notori-
ous Capt. King and two of his sons were hung here last night by Chalmer's
brigade, having been taken by our cavalry firing on our troops. Under
orders from Gen. Cheatham, I took a detachment of 20 mounted men and
with Lieut. Mann had them decently buried under the cherry tree on which
they were hung near the river.
Oct. 20. Moved forward passing various fortifications and crossing
Cumberland Gap to camp-14 miles. Here we again passed into the State
of Tennessee, having left Chattanooga for the campaign on the 22 of August.
Oct. 21. Marched 5 miles and encamped on Powells River a most
beautiful stream of water.
Oct. 22. Passed through Tazewell (the scene of Col. Vaughn's fight
with the enemy) crossing Clinch river, and camped-distance 18 miles.
Clinch River a beautiful stream, very wide at the ford.
Oct. 23. Marched 12 miles passing through Maynardsville, Union Co.
Oct. 24. Crossed Copper Ridge and camped on creek 4 miles from
Knoxville, having marched today 18 miles.
Oct. 25. Remained in camp.
Oct. 26. Snow falling all day it being 4 inches deep at night. The
leaves on the trees are still green.
Oct. 27. In camp. Heavy frost.
Oct. 28. In camp sharp frost, clear and cold.
Oct. 29. Left camp and moved to Knoxville. While getting our horses
ready for transportation on the Rail Road, Maj. F. H. McNairy was shot
through the right knee, the ball passing upward under the knee-cap. The
18 Camp Dick Robertson is an historical place. While the state of Kentucky
was yet undecided as to what action it would take, the War Department on July
1, 1861, ordered Lieut. Nelson of the U. S. Navy to establish a camp and open
recruiting for the Union army. He established Camp Dick Robertson which be-
came an important recruiting center for the North. (See Civil War Records, Series
I, vol. IV, 251, 257.
14 Camp Wild Cat (known also as Rock Castle) was a naturally strong elevated
position. A contemporary report describes it as "a natural fortification." It had
been strongly fortified by the Federals and unsuccessfully attacked on Oct. 21,
1861, by Gen. Zollicoffer. A cavalry engagement took place here on Oct. 19 and
20, 1862. During the Battle of Perryville, Col. Wright was Assistant Adjutant Gen-
eral for Major-General Cheatham.

shooting was accidental, occasioned by the falling of one of his pistols
out of the holster. Capt. Brooks, volunteer Aid to Gen. Cheatham joined
us here. Left Knoxville and arrived at Chattanooga-110 miles.
Oct. 30. Left Chattanooga and arrived at Bridgeport or at the bridge
this side-38 miles. The two bridges across the Tennessee River at this
point were burned by Gen. Ledbetter last spring. We are delayed here in
getting troops and baggage across.
Oct. 31. Engaged all day in crossing troops. Received telegraphic or-
ders from Gen. Polk to proceed to McMinville and take charge of Conscript
Camp. Took the train for Chattanooga.
Nov. 1. Left Chattanooga for Bridgeport.
Nov. 2. Arrived at Tullahoma.
Nov. 3. Arrived at Manchester.
Nov. 4. Arrived at McMinville and assumed command of the Post and
Camp of Instruction. Dr. J. M. Towler (?) is appointed Post Surgeon.
Major Hunter Nichalson (?) and Capt. Laurence L. Butler assigned to
duty as Asst. Inspds. Conscription. Capt. R. W. Pitman appointed Provost
Marshal and Lieut. Martin, Post Adjutant. Sidney Womack of Ala. re-
ports to me and is assigned to duty.15
Dec. 1. Col. Young 9th Texas Regt. relieved by Col. Garrett (?) of
the 20th Ala.
Dec. 3. Went to Murfreesboro.
Dec. 6. Returned. W. A. Thompson assigned to duty with me as
Post Commissary. Henry L. Elcan assigned to duty as Post Quarter Mas-
ter. Marcus Crump joins me.16
Dec. 14. Received telegraphic dispatch from Governor Harris announc-
ing my appointment by the President (who is at Murfreesboro) as Briga-
dier-General with orders to report there for duty. Will be ready to go
Sunday next.17
Sunday Dec. 29. Left McMinville for Murfreesboro Monday 30. Later
sick with pneumonia.
Tuesday 31 Dec. The ever-memorable battle of Murfreesboro or Stone
River fought Jany. 1, 2, 3, Heavy skirmishing and cannonading all day.
Jan. 4; Breckenridge's assault on the enemy's strong point on our right
made a terrible fight. Heavy loss on each side.
Jan. 15. I am assigned to the command of Hanson's Brigade consist-
ing of the 2d, 4th, 6th and 19 Ky. regiments and 41 Ala regiment and
Cobbs Battery in Breckinridge's division, Hardee's corps.18
Jan. 31. I am relieved from command of Hanson's Brigade and ordered
to report to Lieut. Genl. Polk at Shelbyville for assignment to Donelson's
Brigade, Cheatham's Division.19
Feby. 7. Assumed command of Donelson's Brigade consisting of the
8th, 16th, 15th 38th 51st, and 84th, Tennessee regiments and Carnes Bat-
Feby. 9. Army reviewed by General Joseph E. Johnston.
Feby. 26. Ordered to Tullahoma Feby. 29. Arrive at Tullahoma and
commence work on the Fortifications.
(End of the Diary.)
15 Sidney Womack had been a student at Chapel Hill, N. C., but left to join
the army. He was a brother of Pauline Womack whom Col. Wright married
16 Marcus Crump was a son of Dr. Chas. C. Crump of Purdy, Tenn., who had
married Elizabeth Wright. the deceased sister of Col. Wright.
17 Col. Wright was appointed brig. genl. Dec. 20, 1862, to rank from Dec. 13,
1862: appointment confirmed Apl. 22, 1863 (Marcus J. Wright, General Officers of
the Confederate Army. N. Y., 1911, 99).
18 Special Orders No. 26, Hardee's corps, Jan. 15, 1863 assigned Brig.-Gen.
Marcus J. Wright to Breckinridge's division. On the same date Breekinsidge's
division issued an order assigning Gen. Wright "to command the brigade com-
manded by Col. R. P. Trabue" (Civil War Records, Series I, Vol. XX, pt. 2. page 497.)
19 This order-Special Orders No. 25, Hq. Army of Tennessee, Jan. 31, 1868-
is found in the Civil War Records, Series I, vol. XIII, pt. 2, 621.