George P. Foster

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For the U.S. Representative from Illinois, see George Peter Foster.
George Perkins Foster
Nickname(s) Fighting Colonel
Born (1835-10-03)October 3, 1835
Walden, Vermont
Died March 19, 1879(1879-03-19) (aged 44)
Burlington, Vermont
Place of burial Lakeview cemetery Burlington, Vermont
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch United States Army
Union Army
Years of service 1861 - 1865
Rank Union Army colonel rank insignia.png Colonel
Union Army brigadier general rank insignia.svg Brevet Brigadier General
Commands held 1st Vermont Brigade
4th Vermont Infantry

American Civil War

Other work US Marshal

George Perkins Foster (October 3, 1835 – March 19, 1879) was a school teacher, general in the Union Army during the American Civil War, and then a United States Marshal.

Early life and career[edit]

Foster was born in Walden, Vermont, the son of Ephraim and Emily (Perkins) Foster. Of his early life little is known except that he was a teacher in his hometown school district.[1]

Civil War[edit]

He was commissioned captain of Company G, 4th Vermont Infantry, on September 21, 1861, promoted major on July 18, 1862, lieutenant colonel November 5, 1862 and colonel on February 3, 1864, replacing Charles B. Stoughton, who had resigned.

According to Vermont's military historian, George Benedict, Foster was "of stalwart proportions, and handsome face and figure, he was one of the finest looking officers in the brigade. He was a favorite with his men, distinguished himself as emphatically a fighting colonel."[2]

He was present in every action of the Vermont Brigade until he was severely wounded in the thigh on the first day of the Battle of the Wilderness, on May 5, 1864. While home recuperating from his wounds, he married Sarah Salome Hubbell (1840–1891), of Burlington, on July 5, 1864, in Wolcott, Vermont.

At the Battle at Lee's Mills, April 16, 1862, he led a company of skirmishers early in the engagement. On December 13, 1862, at the Battle of Fredericksburg, Lieutenant Colonel Foster led the 4th Vermont Infantry on the skirmish line in front of Howe's division of the VI Corps. At the battle of Winchester, Colonel Foster had command of the Vermont Brigade.

He was nominated to receive the brevet rank of brigadier general by President Abraham Lincoln on January 1, 1865, "for gallant and meritorious service before Richmond and in the Shenandoah Valley, Virginia," to date from August 1, 1864. The Senate approved.[3]

He mustered out of Federal service with his regiment on July 13, 1865.

Postwar career[edit]

President Ulysses S. Grant nominated Foster to be U.S. Marshal for the district of Vermont, on January 10, 1870. He was appointed January 24, and served in that position until his death.[4]

His tenure was highlighted "by his bold arrest of the Fenian commander, General John O'Neill, in the midst of his army, during the Fenian invasion of Canada, in 1870."[5] He made the arrest immediately after O'Neill's defeat at the Battle of Trout River.

He died in Burlington, Vermont, and is buried in Lakeview cemetery there.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Child, Hamilton. "G. G. Benedict, Vermont in the Civil War. A History of the part taken by the Vermont Soldiers And Sailors in the War For The Union, 1861-5. Burlington, VT.: The Free Press Association, 1888, i:168". Gazetteer of Caledonia and Essex Counties, VT.; 1764-1887, May 1887, pp. 355-368. 
  2. ^ Benedict, i:168
  3. ^ Senate Executive Journal, Monday, February 6, 1865, online; Internet.
  4. ^ Senate Executive Journal, Monday, January 10, 1870, online; History of Marshals for the District of Vermont,
  5. ^ Benedict, i:168fn


  • Benedict, G. G., Vermont in the Civil War. A History of the part taken by the Vermont Soldiers And Sailors in the War For The Union, 1861-5. Burlington, VT.: The Free Press Association, 1888, i:162, 163, 164, 165, 167, 168, 174, 176, 216, 414, 425, 485, 526, 545, 566, 572, 612.
  • History of Marshals for the District of Vermont, United States Marshals Service
  • Peck, Theodore S., compiler, Revised Roster of Vermont Volunteers and lists of Vermonters Who Served in the Army and Navy of the United States During the War of the Rebellion, 1861-66. Montpelier, VT.: Press of the Watchman Publishing Co., 1892, p. 751

Further reading[edit]

  • Coffin, Howard, Full Duty: Vermonters in the Civil War. Woodstock, VT.: Countryman Press, 1995.
  • -----. The Battered Stars: One State's Civil War Ordeal during Grant's Overland Campaign. Woodstock, VT.: Countryman Press, 2002.
  • U.S. War Department, The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, 70 volumes in 4 series. Washington, D.C.: United States Government Printing Office, 1880-1901.

External links[edit]