Samuel Perry "Powhatan" Carter

Samuel Powhatan Carter, the only American officer to achieve the ranks of major general in the army and rear admiral in the navy, was born in Elizabethton, East Tennessee, on August 6, 1819. He entered Princeton in 1837 but early in 1840 was appointed midshipman in the navy. After three years' duty with the Pacific squadron, one year on the Great Lakes, and another on the frigate Potomac with his home squadron, Carter was ordered to the Naval Academy at Annapolis, from which he was graduated in the class of 1846. Until the outbreak of the Civil War he performed varied duties, afloat and ashore, and in the meantime was promoted to lieutenant, a grade then subordinate only to commander and captain. When he proclaimed his fidelity to the Union in a widely publicized letter, Andrew Johnson and other East Tennessee opponents of secession requested his services to whip up Union sentiment in that area, with the result that in July, 1861, Carter was detailed from the navy to the War Department. From that time on he was referred to as General Carter, though he usually signed himself "Lieutenant, U. S. Navy (on special duty)." Subsequently, he adopted "Acting Brigadier-General" until his formal commissioning at that grade in the volunteer service on May 1, 1862. Most of Carter's war service was in Kentucky and Tennessee, where he took part in the battle of Fishing Creek, the operations culminating in the surrender of Cumberland Gap in June, 1862, Ambrose E. Burnside's occupation of East Tennessee, and the siege of Knoxville, where he commanded the cavalry division of the XXIII Corps. During the Carolina campaign of 1865, Carter commanded an infantry division of the XXIII Corps under John M. Schofield and was brevet-ted major general of volunteers to rank from March 13, 1865. Mustered out the following January, Carter resumed the naval rank of commander he had received during the war. He became a captain in 1870, a commodore in 1878, and was retired in 1881; the next year he was advanced to the rank of rear admiral on the retired list. He died in Washington on May 26, 1891, and was buried in Oak Hill Cemetery, Georgetown.

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