About George Wright
George Wright (October 21, 1801 or 1803 – July 30, 1865) was an American soldier who served in the Mexican-American War and the American Civil War.
Early life and career
Wright was born in Norwich, Vermont, and graduated from West Point in 1822. He served in the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment on the frontier in Wisconsin and Maine. In 1838 he transferred to the 8th Infantry Regiment and served on the Canadian border.
In 1844, he fought in Florida against the Seminoles where he was appointed brevet major for meritorious service.
During the Mexican-American War, he served with the 8th Infantry at Vera Cruz and at the Battle of Molino del Rey, where he was wounded. For this service he was appointed a brevet colonel.
In 1848 he was promoted to major, and then lieutenant colonel in 1855, when he transferred to the 4th Infantry Regiment and served on the West Coast. Later, in 1855, he was promoted to colonel of the 9th Infantry Regiment, where he served in the Washington Territory. In 1858 Wright oversaw the reconstruction of Fort Dalles in Oregon Territory from a wood outpost to a more substantial base while in command of the 9th. He fought in the Yakima War and the Battle of Four Lakes near Spokane.
At the beginning of the Civil War, Wright was the commanding officer of the Department of Oregon. Then, for a few months in 1861, he was the commanding officer of the District of Southern California. In October 1861, he was promoted to brigadier general of Volunteers and placed in command of the Department of the Pacific, replacing Edwin Vose Sumner, on Sumner's recommendation.
Although Wright would have preferred to have been sent East during the Civil War, he remained in California where he commanded the largest force ever in the Far West—6,000 troops in 1862. His duties included protecting the frontier, keeping watch on secessionists, safeguarding the coast, and moving troops eastward.
The climate of San Francisco was not agreeable to Wright, because of his asthma, and he wanted to move the headquarters to Sacramento. The headquarters did not move, although Wright did spend time in Sacramento.
When the regular army reorganized in 1865 and created the Military Division of the Pacific, Wright commanded the District of California for a few months until he was given command of the newly created Department of the Columbia. He may have been removed from command of the Department of the Pacific in order for the Army to have a position for Maj. Gen. Irvin McDowell.
Wright and his wife died at sea en route to his new command when the steamer Brother Jonathan was wrecked off the California coast. His body was recovered six weeks later. He is interred in the Sacramento Historic City Cemetery.
For his service as commander of the Department of the Pacific, he was appointed a brevet brigadier general in the regular army.
Fort George Wright, located near Spokane, was named in his honor.