For Freedom and Humanity: The Civil War Diaries of Owen Wright

These are the civil war adventures of Owen Thomas Wright, 14th Indiana Volunteers. As the journal and commentary unfold, you'll follow Owen from being one of the first to answer Lincoln's call for volunteers, to the front lines of major battles fought by the Army of the Potomac, through his attempts to escape Confederate captors after being interred at Andersonville. Well, I’m giving away a bit too much of the plot line. Just watch the story unfold, and feel free to contribute. Huzzah! ©2005.

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Location: Misawa, Aomori, Japan

Sunday, February 12, 2006

March 23, 1862: Battle of Winchester

…In the mean time Gen. Tyler's Brigade of the 5th Ohio 62nd Ohio, 7th Indiana and 84th Pennsylvania advanced on the left flank of the enemy and the fight commenced in good earnest. Our troops gave a yell as they came on to the rebels. The battle waxed hot and the 14th was ordered to support Tyler's brigade. When we came up the 84th was retiring in confusion and the air was almost black with balls.

The first fire both our color bearers were shot down at the same time some of the privates as well as officers shouted forward 14th! The boys thinking it was from head quarters advanced double quick amidst a shower of balls. It acted electrical for the enemy began to run and we followed them up. There cannon of which they had several a short distance was taken away in double quick time. Here the enemy got a regiment or so of reinforcements and made another stand. The field over which we had fought was literally covered with dead and wounded. The groans of the wounded could be heard above the din of battle and the shouts of the soldiery.

The rebels were now pouring a destructive fire into our scattered columns but it did not last long for the Gallant 13th came up at the same time our infantry on the right flanked them and they retired in utter confusion. Our Cavalry followed and captured two or three hundred prisoners. They left about 400 dead and wounded on the field besides a great many taken off in the fight. Our loss in killed and wounded is not far from 300 [The Union’s total loss for the battle was 590: 118 killed, 450 wounded, 22 missing. Confederate loss was 718: 80 killed, 375 wounded, 263 missing. B&L 2, 307].

From the time the musketry commenced till the enemy were routed was 2 hours 30 minutes. We also captured 4 pieces of cannon. Many brave officers fell among whom was Col. Murray of the 84th Penn. There were seventeen shots in our regimental flag and a company flag also had the point shot in two. Our brave Catterson had his horse shot under him four balls hitting his horse, two, his saddle blanket, and one in the front part of the saddle. Samuel Keller a Corporal in our Company was killed in the last part of the action and James W. Quillan was wounded. Many of the boys had their clothing shot full of holes, by the musketry. Several hundred guns with sword bayonets were captured which the enemy threw away preparatory to running. Nearly all the regimental flags were shot full of bullet holes. The enemy had at least 1000 men placed “hors de combat.” We lay that night on the field of battle.


Top: “The Confederates fell back in great disorder, and we advanced in disorder just as great, over stone walls and over fences, through blackberry bushes and undergrowth…"

Middle: Battle of Kernstown (B& L)

Bottom: Main Street, Winchester, VA.
(USAMHI; Pic 789)