John Wesley Turner

John Wesley Turner was born July 19, 1833, near Saratoga, New York, but his parents moved to Chicago when he was ten years old. At the age of eighteen he received an appointment to West Point and was graduated in the class of 1855. In the years before the Civil War he served in Oregon as an artillery subaltern, against the Florida Seminoles, and in garrison duty at various points. In August, 1861, Turner moved from line to staff and served as General David Hunter's chief commissary in Kansas and later as General Benjamin F. Butler's in New Orleans. When Quincy A Gillmore succeeded Hunter as commander of the Department of the South in 1863, Turner, who had again been serving under Hunter, was made chief of staff and chief of artillery of the department and took part in the operations in Charleston Harbor that summer. He was made a brigadier general of volunteers to rank from September 7, 1863, and the year following directed a division of "Baldy" Smith's XVIII Corps of the Army of the James in the operations against Petersburg. In the final operations of U. S. Grant's forces which led up to Robert E. Lee's surrender at Appomattox, Turner commanded a division of nine regiments (the other divisions had upwards of fifteen regiments) in Gibbon's XXIV Corps. He had been brevetted a major general of volunteers for services "in the campaign of 1864, on several occasions before the enemy" and in the omnibus promotions of March, 1865, was awarded the brevets of brigadier and major general, U. S. Army. From June, 1865, until April, 1866, he commanded the District of Henrico, which included the city of Richmond. After he was mustered out of the volunteers in 1866, he reverted to his regular staff rank of colonel and additional aide-decamp and served for five years as depot commissary at St. Louis. General Turner resigned from the army in 1871 but remained in St. Louis. He was prominent in both business and public affairs during the remainder of his life, serving as street commissioner for a number of years as well as president and director of several corporate enterprises, including a gas company and two banks. He died of pneumonia at his residence on April 8, 1899, and was buried in Calvary Cemetery.

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Reference: Generals in Blue. Lives of the Union Commanders by Ezra J. Warner. Louisiana State University Press. Baton Rouge.