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Template:Infobox Congressman William Terry (August 14, 1824 – September 5, 1888) was a nineteenth century politician, lawyer, teacher, and soldier from Virginia and the last commander of the famed Stonewall Brigade during the American Civil War.

Early life and career[]

Born in Amherst County, Virginia, Terry attended an old field school as a child and went on to graduate from the University of Virginia in 1848. He taught school, studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1851, commencing private practice in Wytheville, Virginia. He engaged in newspaper work for eighteen months as the editor and co-owner of the Wytheville Telegraph.[1]

In 1852, he married Emma Wigginton of Bedford County. They raised four sons and three daughters. Terry joined the local militia, serving as lieutenant of the "Wythe Grays." He led his company to Harpers Ferry during the John Brown affair in 1859.[2]

Civil War[]


General William Terry

Following Virginia's secession from the Union, Terry enrolled in the Confederate Army as a first lieutenant in the 4th Virginia Infantry. In April 1861, he returned to Harpers Ferry, this time as a Confederate officer serving under Stonewall Jackson. He saw his first significant combat in the First Battle of Bull Run. Terry was promoted to major in the spring of 1862 and fought in the Peninsula Campaign at the battles of Gaines' Mill and Malvern Hill. He was wounded in the Second Battle of Bull Run and was cited for gallantry in the official report of his superior, William Taliaferro. He returned to the ranks to lead the 4th Virginia Infantry at the Battle of Fredericksburg. His regiment lost 140 of its 335 men in fierce fighting at Chancellorsville, but Terry escaped injury there, as well as in fighting at Culp's Hill at Gettysburg.[3]

In February 1864, he was promoted to colonel, to date from September 1863. He was commissioned as a brigadier general on May 20, 1864, following the Wilderness Campaign. The following day, he was assigned command of a brigade formed from the survivors of the Stonewall Brigade and the badly depleted brigades of John M. Jones and George H. Steuart. Terry led the consolidated unit in the fighting at Cold Harbor and the defense of Petersburg.

He commanded his brigade during Jubal A. Early's 1864 campaign in the Shenandoah Valley. Terry's hard-hitting final assault at the Battle of Monocacy finally broke the Union line and forced the withdrawal of Lew Wallace's army.[4] Later that year, Terry was one of seven Confederate generals who were killed or wounded at the Third Battle of Winchester. Recovering, he led the brigade back to Petersburg, where he was again wounded on March 25, 1865, when Gordon's Corps attacked Fort Stedman. Terry was taken to his home in Wytheville to recover from his injuries. As a result, Terry missed the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia at Appomattox Court House in April. When news arrived, he mounted his horse and started southward to join the army of Joseph E. Johnston in North Carolina. However, he returned home when news arrived of Johnston's surrender at Bennett Place.

Postbellum years[]

After the war, though partially disabled from his three Civil War wounds, Terry resumed practicing law in Wytheville. He was nominated for Congress in 1868, but, being under political disabilities, he withdrew.[5] He was easily elected as a Democrat to the United States House of Representatives in 1870, serving from 1871 to 1873, but was unsuccessful in his campaign for reelection in 1872. Terry was re-elected to Congress in 1874 and served again from 1875 to 1877, being unsuccessful for reelection again in 1876. He was a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in 1880 and afterwards resumed practicing law.[6]

Terry drowned on September 5, 1888, while attempting to ford Reed Creek near Wytheville after returning from the Grayson County Courthouse. He was interred in the town's East End Cemetery.[1]

The William Terry Camp of the United Confederate Veterans was named in honor of General Terry.

See also[]



  1. 1.0 1.1 Summers, p. 760.
  2. Evans, p. 673.
  3. Evans, p. 674.
  4. Army History Research
  5. Template:Cite Appleton's
  6. Congressional biography.

External links[]

Template:Start box |- ! colspan="3" style="background: #CF9C65;" | Military offices

|- style="text-align: center;" |- style="text-align:center;" |width="30%" align="center" rowspan="1"|Preceded by
James A. Walker |width="40%" style="text-align: center;" rowspan="1"|Commander of the Stonewall Brigade
May 20, 1864 – end of Civil War |width="30%" align="center" rowspan="1"| Succeeded by
(none) |- |- ! colspan="3" style="background: #cccccc" | United States House of Representatives Template:USRepSuccessionBox Template:USRepSuccessionBox


PD-icon This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.