August 28

This Day in History

Civil War

Aug 28, 1864:

Union General Alfred Terry is promoted

Union General Alfred Terry is promoted from brigadier general to major general of the United State Volunteers.

A native of Connecticut, Terry studied law and became a clerk of the New Haven Superior Court before the war. He was a colonel in the Second Connecticut when the war began, and his regiment fought at the First Battle of Bull Run, Virginia, in July 1861. Terry and his regiment fought at Port Royal, South Carolina, in the fall of 1861. He spent the next two and a half years fighting along the southern coast. For his service, he was promoted to brigadier general and given temporary command of the captured Fort Pulaski in Georgia.

At the end of 1863, Terry was assigned to General Benjamin Butler's Army of the James. He participated in the early stages of the siege of Petersburg, Virginia, before his promotion to major general, and assumed temporary command of the Tenth Corps when General David Birney died of malaria.

At the end of 1864, Terry participated in an attempt to capture Fort Fisher in North Carolina, a stronghold that protected the approach to Wilmington, the Confederacy's most important blockade-running port. Led by General Benjamin Butler, the expedition was a dismal failure. General-in-chief Ulysses S. Grant was so disappointed with Butler that he removed him from command and placed Terry in charge of the next attempt. In January 1865, Terry teamed with Admiral David Porter to make another attempt on Fort Fisher. Porter's ships shelled the fort, and Terry led nearly 10,000 troops on multiple attacks that effected a surrender by the Confederate garrison inside.

Terry went on to a distinguished postwar military career. He commanded the Department of Dakota in the late 1860s, then took over the Department of the South during Reconstruction. He returned to the Department of Dakota, and he was the overall commander of the expedition that resulted in the massacre of George Custer and his entire command at the Battle of the Little Bighorn on June 25, 1876. Terry retired in 1888, and he died in New Haven, Connecticut, in 1890 at age 63.

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