Wright, Silas W.
Silas W. Wright was born March 1, 1844 in Berne, Albany County, NY to Mephiboseth Wright (B. 1814, D. Feb 28, 1870) and Mercy Simmons (B. 1822, D. Dec 30, 1857).  His birthdate has been given as March 1, 1842, but like many Civil War soldiers he lied about his age when they enlisted. Silas was the oldest child of four boys. Note: Robert Keating, in the Carnival of Blood, says that Silas W. Wright was the brother of Nathaniel Wright, however this is incorrect.
Marriage & Children
Silas W. Wright married twice after he returned from the war. The details about the first marriage are unknown. On March 27, 1888 he was married for a second time to Ida M. Smith (B. June 20, 1868, D. May 15, 1888), daughter of Alva D. Smith and Dillie "Senet". They were married in Colchester, McDonough County, Illinois by John D. Tress, the Police Magistrate. Witnesses were C. W. Park Jr., J. E. Hall and C. C. Parker..
Ida had been born in Erie Township, Neosho County Kansas where her father was a farmer. However by 1880, her parents and family had moved to Rock Creek Township, Hancock County, Illinois.
|Residence at Enlistemnt:||Berne|
|Place of Birth:||Berne, NY|
|Date of Birth:||1 March 1842|
|Names of Parents:||Mephiboseth (Wright) and Mercy Simmons|
|Term of Enlistment:||3 years|
|Enlistment Date:||23 Nov 1863 or Dec 1863|
|Enlistment Place:||Albany, New York|
|State Served:||New York|
|Regiment:||7th Regiment NY Heavy Artillery|
|Wounded on:||3 Jun 1864|
|Wounded at:||Cold Harbor, VA|
|Transferred on:||1 Mar 1865|
|Transferred to:||Co. I, 3rd Reg't, Veteran Reserve Corp|
|Discharged for Disability on:||19 Aug 1865 or 22 Aug 1865|
|Muster Out Place:||Ira Harris US Army General Hospital, Albany, NY|
|Additional Remarks: Enlisted at age 19. |
"Had two fingers shot off at the battle of Cold Harbor June 3, 1864 Discharged Aug 19, 1865 P.O. Address Bern Albany Co N.Y."
|Sources Used: Ancestry.com, American Civil War Soldiers; 1865 census, Berne, Albany Co., NY;|
Annual Report of the Adjutant-General of the State of NY for the year 1898; Keating, Robert, Carnival of Blood: The Civil War Ordeal of the Seventh New York Heavy Artillery, Published by Butternut and Blue, Baltimore, Md 1998; Town and City Registers of Men Who Served in the Civil War; 1890 US Veterans Census, Berne, Albany Co, NY; Registers of US National Homes for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers 1866-1938, www.ancestry.com;
Silas W. Wright enlisted in the 7th Heavy Artillery Regiment, which was very popular with men from Albany County. For the first few months of his service, the Regiment had relatively easy duty guarding the nation's capital, Washington, DC. But in the spring of 1864, the Regiment was sent into battle where they experienced some of the heaviest fighting and saw one of the highest casualty rates of any unit in the Civil War.
On June 3, 1864, Silas was wounded at Cold Harbor, Virginia and he lost two fingers on his right hand. Robert Keating, in his book Carnival of Blood, tells of the high number of hand injuries among the 7th HA troops and that officials suspected that many of these injuries were self-inflicted in an attempt to avoid battle. The brutality of the Civil War battles makes such actions understandable.
After his injury, probably unable to handle a rifle, Silas was transferred to the 3rd Regiment of the Veterans Reserve Corps. The Veteran Reserve Corps allowed soldiers with non-serious injuries to continue to serve their nation by providing guard or clerical services. In August of 1865, Silas mustered out of the Ira Harris US Army General Hospital in Albany, NY, which indicates that he had some injury or disability. This is confirmed by the comment that he was discharged from service by a surgeon's certificate.
It appears that the stress of Silas' military career would stay with him for the remainder of his life. He became an alcoholic, probably as a result of post traumatic stress syndrome, and lived a tragic life.
Silas W. Wright was 5'4" tall with gray eyes, and dark hair and complexion.
Silas was Protestant.
Silas was born and raised in Berne where his father, Mephiboseth Wright, was a farmer who owned land. Early in Silas' life the family lived in a log cabin. Silas' mother Mercy Simmons died in 1857 when he was 15 years of age. Having four boys to care for, Mephiboseth received the help of his older sister Hannah Wright (B. 1805, D. after June 1, 1865), a spinster, who came to live with them after Mercy's death.
Silas applied for a military pension in 1865. In the 1880s Silas was living in Colchester, McDonough County, Illinois, where he worked as a "tile ditcher". At some time before 1888 he married for the first time. Nothing more is known about that marriage at this time. In 1888 he married for the second time to Ida M. Smith. She was 24 years younger than he, having been born in 1868. During their marriage, they lived in a house on the farm of George Eakle in McDonough County, Illinois. Their marriage was short and unhappy, as apparently Silas was an alcoholic. Their marriage ended tragically when Ida committed suicide on May 15, 1888 at their home less than two months after their marriage. She left a suicide note for her husband saying they would both be happier with her dead. Ida, who was not yet 20 years of age, was buried at Majorville Cemetery in Hancock County, Illinois, where beautiful carved gravestone marks her grave.
It appears that after Ida's death, Silas' life collapsed. He returned to Berne where his brother Frank Wright still lived, and there Silas was recorded in the 1890 US Veterans Census. By October 31, 1899, he was receiving his Civil War pension and had a diseased rectum that he was said to have contracted in Illinois in 1865. His physical and mental problems were significant enough by this time to require his hospitalization at the US National Home for Disabled Soldiers at Danville, Vermillion Couny, Illinois. Silas was recorded as living there in the 1900 US Census. He was transferred to the US National Home for Disabled Soldiers at Johnson City, Tennessee on September 11, 1904 where he was discharged on August 19, 1905. However his time outside the Disabled Veterans home was short, as on November 21, 1905 he was admitted to the US National Home for Disabled Soldiers at Bath, Steuben County, NY, where he was recorded as "card hyper". Over the next four years, he would be discharged twice and readmitted both times several months later. Their records show the last admission was December 17, 1907; he there died a year and a half later. During all his admissions, his contact person was his brother Frank Wright of South Berne, NY.
Note: Information on Silas' life after the Civil War is complicated by the large number of Silas W. Wrights born in NY about the same time.
Silas W. Wright died on April 3, 1909, after at least a decade of serious medical problems. He died at the US National Home for Disabled Vounteer Soldiers in Bath, Steuben County, NY, and is in the Bath Veterans National Cemetery, Section I, Row 17, Site 5.
Additional Research Notes
Had two fingers shot off at the battle of Cold Harbor June 3, 1864.
The Slingerland Bulletin 1909, South Berne, Sunnyside
"Frank Wright received news of the death of his brother, Silas Wright, who died at the Soldiers Home, Bath."
- 1900 US Census, Danville, Vermillion Co, Illinois
- Keating, Robert, Carnival of Blood: The Civil War Ordeal of the Seventh New York Heavy Artillery, Published by Butternut and Blue, Baltimore, Md 1998
- Town and City Registers of Men Who Served in the Civil War Cite error: Invalid
<ref>tag; name "Town and City Registers" defined multiple times with different content
- 1850 US Census, Berne, Albany Co, NY
- 1855 NY State Census, Berne, Albany Co, NY
- 1860 US Census, Berne, Albany Co, NY
- Berne Historical Project
- 1865 NY State Census, Berne, Albany Co, NY
- Board of Health Document and Marriage License
- US Censuses
- Registers of US National Homes for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers 1866-1938, www.ancestry.com
- Gravestone photo and inscription
- 1890 US Veterans Census, Berne, Albany Co, NY Cite error: Invalid
<ref>tag; name "1890Census" defined multiple times with different content
- The Wright Families of Berne, New York, by Douglas Wright Cruger, 2003
- Pension File, Application #97356, Cer. #56465.
- "A Sad Suicide, Newspaper Clipping from page 8 of May 25, 1888 "The LaHarper."
- The Slingerland Bulletin 1909, South Berne, Sunnyside.
- Grave Locater