This is a worn old 1863-dated Tower Enfield musket that was carried by a 16 year old Indiana farm boy who fought in Sherman's Army through Georgia in 1864. This Enfield is a silent witness to one of the most important years in American history. In the hands of this raw recruit, it saw the Battles at Resaca, GA, Dallas, New Hope Church, and Pine Mountain. At the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain, it was used in the costly Union full frontal assault against the apex of the Confederate "Dead Angle" at Cheatham's Hill where it saw some of the hardest fighting in the Georgia Campaign. From there, it went to the Battle of Peachtree Creek, the Battle of Atlanta, and Jonesboro where it and its owner survived another frontal assualt. After the fall of Atlanta, it made it through the March to the Sea, the capture of Savannah and the march through the Carolinas. In April 1865, it participated in the final battle of the War at Bentonville, NC resulting in the surrender of the last standing Confederate Army led by Joseph Johnston. A few weeks later it was carried through the streets of Richmond and on to Washington DC where it marched in the Grand Review on May 24, 1865. No, its not a pretty Enfield and I guess its safe to say that during that 12 month span of history is most of the reason why it got all scratched up! Fortunately for us, the owner carved his name into the stock of this rifle giving us the path to research where it went and how it was used.
So often as collectors, we limit our horizons by confining our interests to only the best examples in the highest levels of condition. Yet, while many of those weapons sat in arsenal stores, there were a great many well-used rifles and muskets, like this one, that saw actual combat usage through hardest fought campaigns. This Enfield is one of the few we've found that leaves very little to guess in terms of history due to the unique name of the owner, his short span of service towards the end of the War, and clear muster roll records showing him present throughout his entire span of war service. They even indicate his pay was deducted at time of discharge from the purchase his rifle and equipment. These fine English guns were made in Birmingham and London and heavily imported by the North and South during the Civil War. This particular rifle was born in the workshops of Birmingham England in 1863. By 1863, domestic production of rifled muskets in the North had risen sufficiently enough to cancel its Enfield contracts by early that Fall. That was not the case in the South which depended on foreign makers, especially Enfields, and continued to purchase quantities at least into 1864. What makes this weapon interesting is not just the soldier who carried it, his unit, or in which battles it saw service, but most importantly, how this fits in 1864, a critical year for the Civil War and US History. We're going to start this one with a macroscopic view of the Civil War in 1864 and focus down into the life of the 16 year old and this weapon he carried.
Whether your ancestors fought for the North, South, or not at all, just try to imagine what it must to have been like to be President of the United States in early 1864. The weight of the world is upon your shoulders and time is running out. After 3 long bloody years of fighting, at a terrible price to human lives, the American public in the Union has grown weary of the mounting losses which has taken its toll on so many young people in this country. Many are willing to settle for a divided Union if it means Peace and brothers and sons can return home. The South is tired too but they seem nowhere closer to capitulating and re-joining the Union than it did when the war started in 1861. Most of the Confederacy's territory is still intact as Union Generals have not been aggressive enough to hold on to it. In spite of the hard-fighting, General Lee's Army was still on the loose and just as dangerous as ever in Northern Virginia. To make matters even worse, a great number of the best soldiers in the Union Army will soon be leaving the fight and going home. The cream of crop, the Unions most experienced soldiers 3 year term of enlistments are just about to expire towards the Spring and Summer of 1864. If all whom are eligible should decide to go home (remember, most haven't seen their homes or familes in 3 years), half of the Army will be lost in a matter of months. If that weren't enough, after 3 years of little success in winning the war, the vast majority of the Public wants you to pack your bags and get out of the White House. The Democratic Partys intend to take care of soon as your election is coming up that Fall with the nomination of former Union General McClellan whose running on the party plank of Peace. Nobody is giving you a chance to win re-election, not even yourself, unless something drastically changes in your favor towards ending the War. If you were Abraham Lincoln, these are the problems adding wrinkles across your brow during those early months of 1864. He has a monumental task before him and even he had his doubts as to whether this can be accomplished. He knows time is running out, the war has to end quickly or at the very least, the Union Army must inflict a mortal blow to the South in the next few months if he stands a chance of winning the Re-election in the Fall and keeping the Union in one piece. How's that for pressure?
Lincoln's got to do something and FAST or he knows the War is going to be lost at the Polls in the upcoming 1864 Presidential Election. He starts with appointing a new operational commander of the US Army who hopefully, this time, can get things done...at any cost. One of the few bright spots in terms of Union commanders is Ulysses S. Grant. The War hasn't gone so well in the East but this Western Theatre General has never lost a battle. He simply refuses to give up! Grant is Lincoln's man...he needs an offensive General to pound the fight out of the South. Grant is quickly promoted to the newly formed rank of Lieutenant General by Congress, takes over the entire U.S. Army and forms a master plan to end the War. In addition as the new overall commander, Grant will personally take over operations in the East (Virginia) while his friend, General Tecumseh Sherman will replace Grant and take over operations in the West (TN, MS, GA, AL). Grant will attack Lee and Sherman will attack the Confederate Army in Georgia led by Joseph Johnston, CSA. In Albert Castel's book "Decision in the West", he lays Grant's plan perfectly in one simple paragraph on P. 68.,
"Grant, directing the Army of the Potomac, will endeavor to destroy Lee's army while trying to take Richmond; Sherman will seek to do the same to Johnston's army (CSA) while aiming at Atlanta. They will advance simultaneously, as will all the other Union field forces, and they will not cease attacking until they achieve their objectives. Hitherto, Federal armies have operated independently, with little or no reference to the military situation as a whole. Because of their lack of common purpose and coordination, they have failed to take full advantage of their numerical superiority; so the Confederates, utilizing their interior lines, have been able to maximize their inferior strength by shifting forces from one front to another, as most notably when they transferred Longstreet's corps from Virginia to Georgia for the Battle of Chickamauga. Grant and Sherman intend to prevent this from happening again. They will keep the pressure on in both East and West until somewhere the Rebels crack under the strain. Moreover-and this is the devastating beauty of this simple, indeed obvious, plan-it does not make much difference if the crack occurs in Virginia or in Georgia. Either way the Confederacy will be as good as doomed. The only thing that might frustrate the plan is if no crack occurs before the autumn elections. In that case it might be the North rather than the South which calls it quits."
With the master plan in place, Sherman and Grant's next worry is how to get more men and persuade the ones they already have to stay and finish the fight. Lincoln wants to increase the size of the Army from 700,000 to 1,200,000. However, after 3 years of fighting without seeing their homes and families, most veteran soldiers are anxious to leave. "Of the 956 infantry regiments in the Union army, 455 are scheduled to disband during the Spring and Summer." Albert Castel, Decision in the West P. 9. Without them, the Union Army will lose its most valuable asset....its most experienced foot soldiers. Lincoln needed his Veterans to stay and new recruits to join if General Grant's bug push on Richmond and Atlanta were to have any chance of succeeding. And recruit they did! The Army responded by introducing new plan to give these soldiers special status as Veteran Volunteers. Furthermore, upon re-enlistment, these soldiers were allowed one month of leave, a $402 bounty, and an extra stripe on their uniform to reflect their status as Veteran Volunteers. The catch was they were in this War another 3 years or the end of War...whichever came first.
The 22nd Indiana Infantry was pretty typical of one of those older regiments filled with men who had been fighting since 1861. They had mustered in Indianapolis, Indiana on August 15, 1861 before moving to Missouri. From 1862-63, they fought in the Battles of Pea Ridge, Corinth MS, Perryville KY, Stone's River, Chickamauga, Chattanooga, and Mission Ridge. By 1864, they had been away from home for 2 1/2 years. After conducting operations in East Tennessee, those soldiers who had re-enlisted as Veteran Volunteers were allowed to go home on leave during February and March 1864. Those soldiers not re-enlisting stayed behind in Tennessee and served out the remainder of their 3 year terms. Meanwhile, on leave at home in Indiana, the Veterans of the began looking for new recruits to replace their comrades who did not re-enlist in order to keep their Regiment up to fighting strength. In the past, new recruits had been assigned to newly formed regiments...this practice was discarded in 1864 to keep the existing 1861 Regiments up to fighting strength. According to Castel's book, while either planned or accidental, replenishing these older regiments resulted in two benefits. First, raw recruits reached combat readiness much faster than purely "Green" regiments due to the presence of the veterans. Secondly, incidents of illness were reduced dramatically as most veterans from 1861 had stronger immunity and their regiments no longer spread outbreaks. This was not the case with regiments full of young men who had never been off their farms and possessed little defense to deadly viral and bacterial infections.
Hiram Wray was pretty much your typical Indiana farm boy. When we first found him in the 1860 census, he was just 12 years old living in the Salt Creek Township of Indiana with his Mother, Father, and 5 brothers and sisters. His 60 year old father was a farmer and his mother is listed as a Weaver. The value of their property and personal estate are listed as just 380 dollars. By 1864, Wray was just 16 years old and living in Bloomington Indiana. and still too young to be fighting in the Civil War. That March, he met Sergeant Copernicus H. Coffey of Company C & later I of the 22nd Indiana Infantry who was a Newly minted "Veteran Volunteer" who was home on his 1 month leave from Sherman's Army in Tennessee after having just re-enlisted for another 3 years. One can only imagine the stories Wray must have heard from these returning Veterans of the 22nd Indiana. To a teenager, the War must have seemed like a great adventure and a chance to get off the farm and travel somewhere he'd never seen. It was also his chance to help save the Union by participating in Grant's Big Push on Atlanta and Richmond. While we have no way of knowing much of what Sergeant Copernicus Coffee was doing on most of his leave during that cold Feb. and March of 1864, there are two facts we do know. First, we know he recruited Hiram Wray to serve in under him in Company I of the 22nd Indiana (see his Signature on Wray's enlistment papers) AND second, we know is this would be the last time Sergeant Coffee ever saw home again.
Hiram Wray sounded like your typical teenage Indiana Hoosier! He was 5' 10" tall with blue eyes, light complexion, and light hair. At the date of his enlistment, March 14, 1864, his residence is listed as "Bloomington, Indiana" and his occupation is listed as a Farmer. Another interesting aspect of his enlistment papers is his age. In order to avoid parental consent as a 16 year old minor and claimed he was 18 1/2. He mustered in on March 18 and was given leave while "awaiting pay of bounty". One of the things that made him a little tougher to track down is his name on both his enlistment and muster rolls sheets is spelled "Hiram Ray" instead of "Hiram Wray". Fortunately, Hiram Wray survived the War and when he had reached his elder years, filed for a pension while living in Dodge City Kansas. His Pension application card is spelled correctly as Hiram Wray as a Corporal of Company I, 22 Indiana Infantry. SEE PHOTO. This allowed us to back-track him to the 22nd Indiana...where his name was misspelled "Ray" by the recruiter. Fortunately, this Pension Application is also what provided us with a positive match to the name "Hiram Wray" carved into the stock of of his Enfield rifle. In our search we found 16 soldiers with the name Hiram Ray in Civil War muster rolls. However, with his correctly spelled name on the pension application, we now know he was the only soldier with that spelling, "Hiram Wray", to fight in the Civil War. Interestingly enough, this simple typo by a recruiter in 1864 has somehow managed to survive into the 21st century. We found several online photos of Hiram's gravestones at the Maple Grove Cemetery in Dodge City Kansas where he has both a Civil War headstone marked "HIRAM RAY" as well as a personal stone marked "HIRAM" beside the "WRAY" stone at his Family's plot. SEE PHOTOS.
Wray mustered into the 22nd Indiana on March 18, 1864 in Indianapolis, Indiana. From his muster rolls, it appears he received 1 month's pay and $60 of his $100 dollar bounty. Since the 22nd Indiana was home on leave, it may be he was granted leave until around March 26. In six weeks, Hiram Wray would be in Georgia fighting in his first Battle. From Indiana, the 22nd left by train headed South to Tennessee. Hopefully, they made it to Nashville before April 6, 1864. That was when Sherman was authorized to seize all trains at Nashville with orders for them to carry supplies to Chattanooga. At this moment in Chattanooga, his growing Army is in acute need of supplies for its Spring Campaign into Georgia. He orders, "....units moving to the front will march whenever possible."
Using Castel's book "Decision in the West" which we are including with Hiram Wray's rifle, you can easily cover his movements through the entire Atlanta Campaign from the opening days in May 1864 at Tunnel Hill and the Battle of Resaca all the way to the Battle of Jonesboro in Sept. 1864. In order to do so we are providing the chain of Command from top to Bottom:
Atlanta Campaign May-September 1864
Army of the Cumberaland --General Thomas
XIV Corps --General Palmer & General Davis (After 8/64)
2nd Division --General Davis & General Morgan (After 8/64)
3rd Brigade --Colonel Daniel McCook Jr. (MWIA 6/64 @ Kennesaw Mtn Died 7/64)
22nd Indiana Infantry (with 86th, 110th, 125th Illinois Infantry, & 52nd Ohio Infantry) Regiments
Private/Corporal Hiram Wray
The following are excerpts from Castel's book, Chapter Six, Part Three "Kennesaw". See photos for where McCook's 3rd Brigade (including the 22nd Indiana) was deployed against the apex of the the "Dead Angle" or "Devil's Elbow" at Cheatham Hill. Battle of Kennesaw Mountain, June 27, 1864.
"Davis (XIV Corps Commander) goes forward with Col. McCook (3rd Brigade Commander) and Col. Mitchell (2nd Brigade Commander) and shows them their objective. It is a hill, about 600 yards distant, that forms a westward-facing salient in the enemy front....Davis considers it more vulnerable than any other available point of attack...McCook and Mitchell return to their brigades and deploy them in four lines of battle, a regiment to each line, to be preceded by a fifth regiment acting as skirmishers. ...A hot sun will soon send the temperature soaring to a hundred degrees. Thomas's (Maj General George Henry Thomas commander "Army of the Cumberland") cannons...go into action at 8 A.M., concentrating on the salient hill and the area adjoining it. Some of his infantry are still deploying and so he defers the order to charge. While they wait to advance, McCook's troops gaze at the hill they have just been told they are to take. There is, later writes Major Holmes of the 52nd Ohio, an "ominous stillness" in their ranks, for all know that "many must fall" getting there. Sensing their mood, McCook strides up and down in front of them, reciting the stanzas of Thomas Babington Macaulay's "Horatius at the Bridge":
Then out spoke bold Horatius,
The captain of the gate,
To every man upon this earth
Death cometh soon or late;
And how can man die better
Than facing fearful odds
For the ashes of his fathers
And the temples of his gods?
Finally, at about 9 A.M.....all of Thomas's infantry are in position and he orders the attack to begin. Signal cannons roar, bugles blare, and with a cheer the assault columns rush forward. On the right, Mitchell's brigade heads for the south angle of the salient hill, and McCook's aims for its apex (The "Dead Angle")....Waiting for them are Cheatham's and Cleburne's divisions: unknowingly the Federals have chosen to attack the troops in Johnston's army that are the least likely to give way before any attack....The only weak point in the Confederate defenses along this part of the fron is the salient hill, which is held by Maney's Brigade of Cheatham's Division (henceforth it will be known as "Cheatham's Hill".)...At present Maney's Tennesseans have no trouble at all seeing and shooting at the oncoming Yankees. Listening to the bullets buzz about them, it occurs to Major Holmes that "if I should hold out my hand I could catch several of them-a handful-immediately"....Panting, seating, and already half-exhausted, the Federals continue to ascend the hill, leaving behind an ever-lengthening trail of dead and wounded....Because McCook's brigade is attacking the western apex of the salient, which the Confederates afterwards dub "The Dead Angle" or "Devil's Elbow," neither the masked 4 gun battery to the south nor a 2-gun section north of the hill can fire at it without endangering Maney's troops. This, and the absence of obstructions as formidable as those encountered by Mitchell's brigade, enables a comparatively large number of its men, mainly from the 52nd Ohio, which is in the rear rank of the assault column, to reach the base of the parapet. On the other side of the Tennesseans, realizing that they will be trapped and slaughtered in their trench should the Yanks get on top of the parapet, fire their rifles as fast as they can, not even bothering to aim but simply thrusting the barrel beneath the head log and pulling the trigger. Soon some rifles become literally too hot to handle, or else they fill up with molten lead from bullet shavings. Their possessors thereupon discard them and resort to throwing stones at the bluecoats. ....only a handful of McCook's men manage to climb on the parapet, one of them being the colorbearer of the 52nd Ohio, who plants his flag on the top, shoots down a Rebel captain who tries to seize it, and then goes down himself, riddled with bullets. Standing a few yards away, near the south angle, McCook urges them on. "Colonel Dan," a soldier cries, "for God's sake get down-they will shoot you!" "God damn you, attend to your own business!" McCook snarls back. Then he falls, a bullet through the chest...McCook's successor, Colonel Dilworth of the 85th Illinois, orders a retreat. Most of the troops scrable down the hill, in Holme's words, "breathing hard through fear and physical exhaustion." Reaching the drop-off below the crest and perceiving that it offers shelter from the hail of lead that continues to pelt them, they flop flat on the ground, hugging it as if were life itself...(on the Confederate side) Never has Sam Watkins of the 1st Tennessee, a veteran of numerous battles, beheld "so many broken down and exhausted men" who like himself are "sick as a horse" and "we with blood and sweat," their tongues "cracked for water" and "faces blackened with powder and smoke." Nevertheless they remain at their posts, because the Federals are only a few yards away below the crest and they might charge again. (there were) 410 killed and wounded in McCook's five regiments.
During our research, while reviewing some photos at www.civilwaralbum.com , an excellent website, of the Kennesaw Battlefield, we were quite startled to find a grave marker for Sergeant Copernicus located at "Dead Angle". In addition to be the man who recruited and signed Hiram Wray's enlistment papers, he was also Wray's Commander of Company I.
Hiram Wray lived to fight on through every major battle of the Atlanta Campaign. Castel's book provides a lot of interesting insight into how the battle was fought from both sides and is told in present tense giving the reader a sense of what it was like to be there "in the moment". With it, you can easily track Wray's movements throughout the campaign. We've never sold a rifle with a book before but after reading it, I think you'll grow to appreciate the history of this Enfield as well as the importance to the Atlanta campaign which was instrumental in Lincoln's re-election and saving the Union.
After the War, Hiram Wray married and moved to Illinois where he and his wife had 2 daughters, Clara (about 1879) and Maggie (about 1881). Sometime later (between 1881 and 1886), the Wrays moved to Dodge City, Kansas where they had another daughter "Jessie" around 1886. Hiram last shows up in the 1920 census. He passed away in 1922.
Overall condition is NRA Antique Good with the metal turned mostly to a brown patina. There is some light scattered pitting around the bolster and front of the lock plate from percussion sparking. Left side of the barrel has "25" bore gauge markings (.577 Caliber) and Birmingham proofs. Complete with sights, sling swivels and original ramrod. Bore is dirty but still shows its original 3 groove rifling. Action works properly and cocks at both full and half cock positions. The wood is solid but shows lots of wear and abuse. Being a 16 year old, Wray was pretty hard on this rifle and in addition to his name, it looks like he added a small pin-hole (for what we're not sure...a lollipop sight perhaps?) in the comb of the stock and several indentations from something with a circular shape. Near his name is an asterik or an "X" with a line running through the center. Probably why the Government made him purchase his rifle upon his discharge from the US Army. The left side of the stock has a diagonal gash where it appears something embedded into the wood with great force like shrapnel. You can spend hours looking at the wood on this rifle...it shows every bit of its 1864 Georgia Campaign. The only things we fixed were two small areas in front and behind the bolster where the wood was burnt away from spark erosion. Stock still retains some areas of original varnish. Brass furniture is all intact and wears a nice patina. A good example of a historic Civil War Enfield.