Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
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FOSTER, John Gray, soldier, born in Whitefield, New Hampshire, 27 May 1823; died in Nashua, N. H, 2 September 1874. He was graduated at the U. S. military academy in 1846, assigned to the engineer corps, and served in the Mexican war under General Scott, being engaged at Vera Cruz, Cerro Gordo, Contreras, Churubusco, and Molino del Rey, where he was severely wounded. He received the brevets of 1st lieutenant and captain for gallantry. He was assistant engineer in Maryland in 1848'52, and on coast survey duty in Washington, D. C., in l852'4, and after promotion to a 1st lieutenancy acted as assistant professor of engineering at West Point in 1855'7. At the beginning of the civil war he was stationed at Charleston, South Carolina, and safely removed the garrison of Fort Moultrie to Fort Sumter during the night of 26-27 December 1860.
He was brevetted major for the distinguished part he took in this transfer, and was one of the defenders of the fort during its subsequent bombardment. He was made brigadier general of volunteers, 23 October 1861, commanded a brigade in Burnside's North Carolina expedition, and received the brevet of lieutenant colonel for his services at Roanoke Island. While in command of the Department of North Carolina, with the rank of major general of volunteers, in 1862'3, he conducted several important expeditions. He had charge of the combined departments of Virginia and North Carolina from July till November 1863, and afterward of the army and department of the Ohio, which he relinquished in December 1864, on account of severe injuries from the fall of his horse. After the termination of his sick leave he commanded the Department of the South, cooperating efficiently with General Sherman, and preparing to assist in the reduetion of Charleston under Sherman's orders, when suffering caused by his old wound obliged him to transfer the command to General Quincy A. Gillmore.
In 1865 he was brevetted brigadier general in the regular army for gallant services in the capture of Savannah, Georgia, and major general for services in the field during the rebellion. He was in command of the Department of Florida in 1865'6, and on temporary duty in the engineer bureau of Washington in 1867. He afterward served as superintending engineer of various River and harbor improvements. His submarine engineering operations in Boston and Portsmouth harbors were conducted with great ability and were eminently successful. He contributed articles to periodical literature on engineering topics, and published "Submarine Blasting" in Boston Harbor" (New York, 1869).
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