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Edward Charles Wright was born in 1844 in London, England. Edward Charles Wright was born Edward Charles Wright “Osborne”, to parents Edward Charles Osborne and Ann Elizabeth Sangster. At eighteen years of age, after having arrived in the United States, Edward decided to enlist for military service in the Massachusetts Infantry; but for reasons of his own, perhaps relating to his age, he chose to drop his last name, Osborne, and enlisted under the name Edward Charles Wright.  On September 6, 1862, while living at Cambridge, Massachusetts, Edward enlisted on September 6, 1862 as a Private at Readville, Massachusetts and was mustered into Captain McGregor’s Company, 47th Massachusetts Infantry, a Massachusetts Militia unit that was later to become Company B of the 47th Massachusetts Infantry; on September 19th.

Company B was recruited during the fall of 1861, with most of its original members coming from the Boston area. The first Captain of Company B was Lawrence P. Barrett, a 24-year old actor from Boston; the same profession that later showed up on right’s death certificate. Barnett later resigned and was discharged on August 8, 1862. A total of 239 enlisted men served in Company B during its existence. Total losses for Company B include 22 men killed or mortally wounded in action, 3 were listed as missing in action, 11 died by accident or disease, and 6 died as prisoners of war.

Organized at Boxford and Readville, Massachusetts in October 1862, the 47th Massachusetts after recruiting was completed, left the area for New York in November. It boarded the steamer “Mississippi” in December and made for Ship Island, Mississippi and New Orleans, Louisiana; arriving in New Orleans on December 31, 1862. From there the 47th was ordered to Carrolton, Louisiana on January 1, 1863 and upon arriving was attached to the Second Brigade 2nd Division, 19th Army Corps, Department of the Gulf; until July 1863. It was assigned duty at Carrolton, the U.S. Barracks, at Lower Cotton Press, the Metaire Race Course and at Camp Parapet in the Defense of New Orleans, until August 1863. During that time it participated in skirmishes at the Amite River on April 17th and at LaFourche Crossing on June 21st & 22nd , before moving to Boston, Massachusetts from August 3rd through the 18th; and  mustering out of service on September 1, 1863.

Some nine years after Wright left military service he migrated to Australia, around 1872, and married Henrietta Sheridan in Melbourne, Victoria in 1874. When he applied for a military pension from the United States he was shown living in Dunwich, New South Wales. In an effort to help Wright attain his pension, one Edwin Kelly attested under oath that he had known Wright for some thirty years.  Records reveal that Edwin Kelly had also served with the Union, for a very short period, having enlisted in the 2nd Massachusetts Volunteer Cavalry Regiment on June 3, 1863, mustered in on June 4th and deserted on June 5th at Readville, Massachusetts. Apparently he realized in just three days that the Cavalry was no place for him.

A Dunwich physician who provided the necessary medical affidavit for Wright’s pension application stated that being the Medical Superintendent in Dunwich, he had known and treated Wright for two and one-half years. He further stated that Edward Wright had been incapacitated and unable to work, suffering from “pulmonary phthisis” and had made no progress towards a recovery since he began treating him. He stated Edward Wright’s death was inevitable, within a year or two, if he remained in the wet coastal climate of North South Wales where he was then living. Edwards pension was approved, certification No. 810965, and was paid from August 1892, back dated to April 1891, at a monthly rate of $12 (US) per month.

Edward in 1899 was admitted to the Dunwich Benevolent Asylum; a home provided for poor individuals who because of age, an accident or an infirmity were unable to care for themselves and had no one else to turn to. The Dunwich Benevolent Asylum was established on May 13, 1865 when inmates were first transferred to the Dunwich Quarantine Station from the Benevolent Ward, attached to the Brisbane Hospital. Dunwich Benevolent Asylum continued to operate until it was officially closed on 30 Sep 1946. Inmates of the Benevolent Asylum at Dunwich, as were patients sent to the Leprosarium at Peel Island, were transported there aboard the “Otter”, a twin screw steamer, originally built for excursion and tugboat service.

Edward remained in the asylum until his death on December 12, 1894; having lived in Queensland, Victoria and New South Wales for some twenty-two years.  On his death certificate, his full name Edward Charles Wright Osborne was used and his profession was stated as being an “actor”. Edward Wright was buried at the Dunwich Cemetery in Queensland, Australia in a paupers grave. Being one of some ten-thousand burials in a large pasture used by the asylum, his grave, number 206, bears no headstone as it is impossible to locate an individual grave site. A bronze plaque was provided by members of the American Civil War Round Table of Queensland in 2003 and placed on the wall of the cemetery to commemorate his service and memory

 

Birth, Marriage and Death Records, Queensland

Dunwich Benevolent Asylum Records

 John King, Burleigh Heads, Queensland

 “Massachusetts in the War 1861 – 1865”, James L. Bowen, 1893,

 “Massachusetts Soldiers, Sailors and Marines in the Civil War”, Boston, Adjutant General, 1937.

 “Record of Massachusetts Volunteers, 1861 – 1865”, Boston, Adjutant General, 1886 

 Royal Historical Society, London, England

 U.S. Pension Files 

 

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