John Gray Foster - Facts

May 27, 1823 - September 2, 1874

Key facts about John G. Foster, a prominent general officer in the Union Army during the American Civil War.

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Full Name:

  • John Gray Foster

Birth Date:

  • May 27, 1823

Birth Location:

  • Whitefield, New Hampshire

Parents:

  • Major Perley and Mary (Gray) Foster

Education:

  • United States Military Academy (1846)

Occupation:

  • Military officer

Career Summary:

  • Lieutenant Colonel (USA)
  • Brevet Brigadier General (USA)
  • Brigadier General (USVA)
  • Brevet Major General (USA)

Spouse(s):

  • Mary L. Moale (1851)
  • Nannie Davis (1872)

Place of Death:

  • Nashua, New Hampshire

Date of Death:

  • September 2, 1874

Place of Burial:

  • Nashua Cemetery, Nashua, New Hampshire

Significance:

  • John G. Foster was the first-born of seven children of Major Perley and Mary (Gray) Foster .
  • John G. Foster graduated from the United States Military Academy, on July 1, 1846, placing fourth in his class of 59 cadets.
  • Upon graduating from West Point, John G. Foster was brevetted to second lieutenant and assigned as an assistant engineer with the Army Corps of Engineers, stationed in Washington, D.C.
  • During the Mexican-American War, John G. Foster was engaged at the Siege of Veracruz (March 9‑29, 1847), the Battle of Cerro Gordo, (April 17‑18, 1847), the Battle of Contreras (August 19‑20, 1847), and the Battle of Churubusco (August 20, 1847).
  • John G. Foster was brevetted to first lieutenant, effective August 20, 1847, in recognition of his “Gallant and Meritorious Conduct” at the battles of Contreras and Churubusco.
  • John G. Foster was severely wounded on September 8, 1847, during the Battle of Molino del Rey, forcing him to go on leave of absence for several months.
  • John G. Foster was brevetted to captain, effective September 8, 1847
  • John G. Foster was promoted to the full rank of second lieutenant on May 24, 1848.
  • John G. Foster was promoted to first lieutenant on April 1, 1854.
  • From January 11, 1855 to June 27, 1857, John G. Foster returned to West Point as an assistant professor of engineering.
  • John G. Foster was promoted to captain in recognition of “Fourteen Years’ Continuous Service” with the army On July 1, 1860.
  • John G. Foster was serving as an army engineer at Charleston Harbor when Southern forces fired on Fort Sumter, igniting the Civil War.
  • John G. Foster was brevetted to major, effective December 26, 1860.
  • John G. Foster declined a promotion to major with the 11th U.S. Infantry on May 14, 1861.
  • John G. Foster was promoted to brigadier-general in the volunteer army on October 23, 1861.
  • John G. Foster was placed in command of the First Brigade of Major-General Ambrose Burnside’s Coast Division on December 20, 1861
  • John G. Foster participated in Burnside’s North Carolina Expedition, beginning in early 1862.
  • On February 8, 1862, John G. Foster was brevetted to lieutenant-colonel in the regular army for “Gallant and Meritorious Services in Capture of Roanoke Island.”
  • After the capitulation of Fort Bartow on Roanoke Island, the Union renamed the Confederate stronghold as Fort Foster in John G. Foster’s honor.
  • On March 12, 1862, John G. Foster was brevetted to colonel in the regular army for “Gallant and Meritorious Services in Capture of Newberne, N. C.”
  • On July 1, 1862, John G. Foster was placed in command of the Department of North Carolina.
  • John G. Foster was promoted to major-general of volunteers on July 18, 1862.
  • On March 14, 1863, John G. Foster was promoted to major in the regular army.
  • John G. Foster commanded the Department of Virginia and North Carolina from On July 15–November 13, 1863.
  • On November 16, the War Department issued General Orders Number 369, naming John G. Foster to relieve Ambrose E. Burnside as commander of the Department of the Ohio.
  • John G. Foster’s tenure as commander of the Department of the Ohio lasted only two months, until February 9, 1864, when he was forced to step down due to serious injuries he sustained when his horse fell.
  • John G. Foster commanded of the Department of the South, which comprised areas of Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina occupied by federal troops, from May 5, 1864 to February 11, 1865.
  • During his tenure as commander of the Department of the South, John G. Foster assisted Major-General William T. Sherman’s March to the Sea by making demonstrations along the coast that diverted attention from Sherman’s troops.
  • On March 13, 1865, John G. Foster was brevetted to brigadier-general in the regular army “for Gallant and Meritorious Services in the Capture of Savannah, Ga.”
  • On March 13, 1865, John G. Foster was brevetted to major-general in the regular army “for Gallant and Meritorious Services in the Field during the Rebellion.”
  • John G. Foster commanded of the Department of Florida, which embraced the whole State of Florida, from August 7–December 5, 1865.
  • John G. Foster mustered out of the volunteer army on September 1, 1866, but remained on as an officer in the U.S Army.
  • John G. Foster was promoted to lieutenant-colonel with the Corps of Engineers on March 7, 1867.
  • Following an extended illness, John G. Foster died at his home in Nashua, N. H., on September 2, 1874, at the age of 51.
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Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Article Title John Gray Foster - Facts
  • Coverage May 27, 1823 - September 2, 1874
  • Author
  • Keywords John Gray Foster
  • Website Name American History Central
  • Access Date July 30, 2021
  • Publisher R.Squared Communications, LLC
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update April 29, 2021
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