Civil War


Text and photos by Nathan Morgan

THE YEAR IS 1863, and the Civil War rages on. The Union Army has control of Memphis, Knoxville and Chattanooga. The Confederates are fighting hard to prevent Northern movement southward, but to no avail. During this time, West Tennessee, as much of the rest of the country, was divided. Brother truly battled against brother as some local residents chose to fight with the Union Army. Others, like Charles Wright, a school teacher from Troy, sided with the Confederacy – a choice that ultimately earned him a 16-month stint at Rock Island Prison, a United States prisoner-of-war camp located on an island in the Mississippi River between Davenport, Iowa and Moline, Illinois. While at the prison, Wright made friends with other inmates and would often write letters home for those who could not write. As a gift for this service, a few of his fellow inmates constructed a chair for him using scrap wood from the prison. Today, the chair, along with various other Civil War era artifacts belonging to Wright, are housed in the Paul Meek Library’s Corbitt Special Collections. “From the Archives” is a feature highlighting unique and interesting items from the Alliene and Jimmie S. Corbitt Special Collections. For more information or to make a donation, contact UT Martin Special Collections and Archives at 731-881-7094 or

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