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Major-General Alfred H. Terry, U.S.A.


Major-General Alfred H. Terry was born in Hartford, Connecticut, November 10, 1827. He was educated in the schools of New Haven, and at the Yale Law School. He began the practice of his profession in 1849, and was clerk of the Superior and Supreme Courts of Connecticut from 1854 to 1860. He was in command of the Second Regiment of Connecticut militia when the Civil War began. In response to President Lincoln's call for three months' troops, he was appointed colonel of the Second Conn. Vol., and with that regiment was present at the first battle of Bull Run. At the expiration of the term of service he returned to Connecticut, organized the Seventh Connecticut Volunteers, of which he was appointed colonel, and on September 17 he was present at the capture of Port Royal, South Carolina, and also at the siege of Fort Pulaski, of which he was placed in charge after its capitulation. On April 25, 1862, he was promoted brigadier-general of volunteers, and he served at the battle of Pocotaligo, and in the operations against Charleston. He commanded the demonstration up Stono River during the descent on Morris Island and at the action on James Island, and he was assigned by General Q. A. Gillmore to command the troops on Morris Island, which post he held during the siege of Forts Wagner and Sumter.

After the reduction of Fort Wagner he was assigned to the command of the Northern District of the Department of the South, including the islands from which operations against Charleston had been carried on. General Terry commanded the First Division of the Tenth Army Corps, Army of the James, during the Virginia campaign of 1864, and at times the corps itself. He was brevetted major-general of volunteers on August 20, 1864, became permanent commander of the Tenth Corps in October, and held that place until the corps was merged in the Twenty-fourth the following December, when he was assigned to head the First Division of the new corps. He commanded at the action of Chester Station, and was engaged at the battle of Drury's Bluff, the various combats in front of the Bermuda Hundred lines, the battle of Fussell's Mills, the action of Deep Bottom, the siege of Petersburg, the actions at Newmarket Heights on the Newmarket Road, the Darbytown Road, and the Williamsburg Road. On January 2, 1865, after the failure of the first attempt to take Fort Fisher, which commanded the sea approaches to Wilmington, North Carolina, General Terry was ordered to renew the attack with a force numbering a little over eight thousand men.

On the 13th he debarked his troops about five miles above the fort, and finding himself confronted by General Robert F. Hoke's Confederate division, proceeded to throw a line of strong entrenchments across the peninsula between the sea and Cape Fear River,. facing towards Wilmington, and about two miles north of the fort. After the landing of the troops, the co-operating fleet under Admiral David D. Porter, numbering forty-four vessels, and mounting upward of five hundred guns, opened fire upon the work, and from 430 to 6 P.M., four shots a second, or twenty thousand in all, were fired. This was the heaviest bombardment of the war. On the 14th the line of entrenchments was completed, and General Charles J. Paine's division of infantry was placed upon it. While this was in progress, General Terry made a reconnaissance of the fort, and in view of the difficulty of landing supplies for his troops and the materials for a siege upon an open, unprotected beach in midwinter, he determined to carry the work by assault the next day, and the plan of attack was arranged the next day with Admiral Porter.

At 11 A.M. on the 15th, the entire fleet opened fire, silencing nearly every gun in the fort. Admiral Porter landed two thousand sailors and marines; gained the parapet by hand-to-hand fighting of the most obstinate character, and by five o'clock nine of the traverses of the fort which had been constructed were carried, and General Terry ordered up reinforcements, consisting of a brigade and the sailors and marines, taking their places there; by nine o'clock two more traverses were carried, and one hour later the occupation of the work was complete, and the Confederate force surrendered. For this General Terry was promoted to be brigadier-general in the regular army and major-general of volunteers, and received the thanks of Congress. He was brevetted major-general in the regular army on March 13, 1865, for his services at the capture of Wilmington. He was promoted to the rank of major-general March 3, 1866, serving in charge of the Division of the Missouri until his retirement in April, 1888.

Source: Officers of the Volunteer Army and Navy who served in the Civil War, published by L.R. Hamersly & Co., 1893, 419 pgs.


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