A correction/clarification in regard to General Alfred Terry’s Command and the Tenth Corps

At several points when discussing the movements in North Carolina in March 1865, I have referenced General Alfred Terry’s command as “The Tenth Corps.”  Not so.  Terry’s command was not officially the Tenth Corps until later in the campaign.  I made a mistake when composing one of the first posts to mention that formation, forgetting to mention the lineage of the command.  Then continued to repeat the mistake for the “shorthand” reference of Terry’s command.  The two divisions that moved up the Wilmington & Weldon Railroad in mid-March 1865 were:

  • Second Division, Twenty-Fourth Army Corps, under Major-General Adelbert Ames.
  • Third Division, Twenty-Fifth Army Corps, under Major-General Charles Paine.

Up until April 2, Terry’s command was a provisional corps.  On April 2, Terry’s command was re-flagged the Tenth Corps, with those two divisions designated, respectively, Second and Third Divisions.

Confusing?   Let me double down on the confusion….

Tenth Corps was originally the field formation of the Department of the South. Major-General Quincy Gillmore brought it north in the winter/spring of 1864 to join the Army of the James.  As part of that formation, the corps participated in the Bermuda Hundred Campaign and later the Petersburg Campaign.  When Gillmore was relieved, Terry took command of the corps (with a few leaves of absence through the fall of 1864 allowing Generals William T.H. Brooks, David Birney, and Adelbert Ames to log time as temporary commanders).

On December 3, 1864, General Orders No. 297 from the War Department disbanded the Tenth along with the Eighteenth Corps.  While the First and Second Divisions, Tenth Corps went to the Twenty-Fourth Corps largely unchanged, the Third Division was for all purposes broken up and sent to Second and Third Divisions, Twenty-Fifth Corps.   The Twenty-Fifth Corps, as USCT fans will recall, was constituted for the Colored Troops in Virginia and North Carolina.  Tracking thus far?  Hold on then.

Portions of the Twenty-Fourth and Twenty-Fifth Corps were assigned to Major-General Benjamin Butler’s Wilmington expedition in December 1864.  Terry held command of the Twenty-Fourth, and later, with Butler’s removal, assumed command of a Provisional Corps constituted of the troops operating against Wilmington.  That Provisional Corps included elements of both the Twenty-Fourth and Twenty-Fifth Corps… each of which still had divisions in Virginia!

Headache yet?  Well Lieutenant-General Ulysses S. Grant had one.  These split corps were taxing on the staff process.  Imagine having to issue orders to a corps headquarters where divisions were dispersed in separate theaters.   On March 25, Grant wrote to Stanton noting the various units formed under Major-General John Schofield in North Carolina.  The Twenty-Third Corps, which Schofield brought east from Tennessee that winter, was already organized. General Jacob Cox was the selection to replace Schofield, who was moving up to Center Wing Commander, or Army of the Ohio as you might prefer.   However, Terry’s provisional command was a mix and match by that point.  Grant suggested that “Terry’s corps be called the Tenth.”

There was some consideration of moving First Division, Twenty-Fourth Corps to North Carolina, which would have begged another question about numbering corps.  But in the end, Grant’s simple suggestion to re-flag the corps won out.

Still confused?  Well, the explanation above just covers the “top tier” changes with divisions and corps.  The story below that level to the brigades and regiments is even more so.  That’s why in the margin of my notes there is an annotation, “Just call them the Tenth.”  I am glad the War Department kept track of all this… bureaucracy!

Having introduced the “New Tenth Corps,” let me briefly discuss the order of battle:

First Division of the Tenth Corps was commanded by Major-General Henry Birge and was largely used for garrisoning.  First Brigade remained at Morehead City and Second Brigade at Wilmington.  Only after March did Third Brigade, First Division move up to join the forces in the field.  And, to really illustrate mix-match arrangement below the division level, Third Brigade, First Division, Tenth Corps was originally Third Brigade, Second Division, Nineteenth Corps.  Colonel Nicholas Day commanded the brigade, constituted of the 24th Iowa, 38th Massachusetts, and 128th, 156th, 175th, and 176th New York Infantry.  The brigade also had 22nd Battery, Indian Light Artillery assigned.

Second Division, again commanded by Ames, had this order of battle:

  • First Brigade, Colonel Rufus Daggett.  3rd, 112th, 117th, and 142nd New York Infantry.
  • Second Brigade, Colonel William B. Coan (after April 5, Colonel John Littell).  47th and 48th New York; 76th, 97th, and 203rd Pennsylvania.
  • Third Brigade, Colonel Frederick Granger.  13th Indiana, 9th Maine, 4th New Hampshire, and 115th and 169th New York.
  • 16th Battery, New York Light Artillery.

Third Division, commanded by Paine also had three brigades:

  • First Brigade, Brigadier-General Delevan Bates.  1st, 30th, and 107th USCT.
  • Second Brigade, Brigadier-General Samuel Duncan. 4th, 5th, and 39th USCT.
  • Third Brigade, Colonel John Hollman (after April 22, Brigadier-General Albert Blackman).  6th, 27th, and 37th USCT.
  • Battery E, 3rd US Artillery.

Yes, the Third Division, Tenth Corps contained all-USCT infantry brigades, indicating it’s origins with the Twenty-Fifth Corps.

At the end of March 1865, Terry’s Provisional Corps included the 13th Pennsylvania Cavalry.  That command went to Major-General H. Judson Kilpatrick’s command, specifically the Third Brigade of that division, on April 4.  That left Terry, as of April 10, a force of just over 11,600 infantry and 375 artillery troops (within three batteries).

Provisional Corps, with divisions from the Twenty-Fourth and Twenty-Fifth Corps?  Or just Tenth Corps?  Or “Terry’s Command”?  Forgive me for an error of simplification in my earlier postings.

Published by Craig Swain

"Historical marker hunter" and Civil War enthusiast.

One thought on “A correction/clarification in regard to General Alfred Terry’s Command and the Tenth Corps

  1. Not the first time Terry rode a horse with no name. As part of the army Irvin McDowell moved toward Manassas in 1861, Terry had to have an identity issue. Yes, there was a Department of Northeastern Virginia, and yes, McDowell commanded it, but his army was not known by that name until after it was disbanded. “McDowell’s Army,” “McDowell’s Corps,” etc…, but no “Army of Northeastern Virginia.” Just a warning – you’ll get pooh-poohed as a pedant. “What difference does it make?” they’ll say. I’ve been harping on it for years, but Longacre in his new “definitive” history of First Bull Run introduces the name with no fanfare of footnote, and uses it throughout his book. Whatcha gonna do?

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