Samuel C. Wright
Private, Company E, 29th Massachusetts Infantry, U.S. Army. Awarded for actions at Antietam, MD.
September 17, 1862
Wounded five times in various battles and twice reported killed, Wright was born September 29, 1842, in Plympton, MA. He joined the 3rd Regiment Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry in May 1861 and transferred to the 29th Massachusetts when that regiment was formed a few months later. Fighting with the 29th Massachusetts in the Peninsular Campaign, he was wounded in the head by a shell fragment at the Battle of White Oak Swamp.
Serving with the Irish Brigade at the Battle of Antietam on September 17, 1862, the 29th Massachusetts advanced on the Confederate position at the “Bloody Lane.” Brigadier General Thomas Francis Meagher, commander of the Irish Brigade, asked for volunteers to tear down a fence impeding their progress.
Wright later wrote:
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-shots. 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.
Shot in the knee, Wright refused to be removed from the field. For his actions at Antietam, Wright received the Medal of Honor.
During different engagements from October 1863 to July 1864, Wright was run down by a mule team, shot in the left arm and, in the Battle of the Crater on July 30, 1864, shot in the right eye and left for dead. He kept the bullet removed from the back of his head as a reminder. After two battlefield promotions, he left the Army as a sergeant in February 1865.
After the war, Wright returned to his hometown of Plympton, where he was a storekeeper. He also worked in the United States Customs office in Boston. The Union Veterans Union named Wright a national color bearer, and he served on the command staff of the Massachusetts department of the Grand Army of the Republic as well as working with other veterans’ groups. He was a member of the executive committee of the 29th Massachusetts Regimental Association and worked to preserve images of regimental members. He died July 6, 1906, and was buried at Oak Grove Cemetery, Plymouth, MA.
Citation: Voluntarily advanced under a destructive fire and removed a fence which would have impeded a contemplated charge.