John Wesley Turner

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John Wesley Turner
Born (1833-07-19)July 19, 1833
Saratoga, New York
Died April 8, 1899(1899-04-08) (aged 65)
St. Louis, Missouri
Place of burial Calvary Cemetery and Mausoleum, St. Louis, Missouri
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch United States Army
Union Army
Years of service 1851–1871
Rank Union Army brigadier general rank insignia.svg Brigadier General
Union Army major general rank insignia.svg Brevet Major General, U.S.V.
Commands held XXIV Corps

American Civil War

John Wesley Turner was a career U.S. Army officer and Union Army general during the American Civil War. Turner spent much of the war as a staff officer and division commander taking a prominent part in the Appomattox Campaign.

Early life[edit]

Turner was born in New York in 1833 and was appointed to West Point at age 18. He graduated in 1855. He was assigned to the 1st U.S. Artillery and fought in the Third Seminole War.

Civil War[edit]

Early Service[edit]

When the Civil War began, Turner was 1st lieutenant and was quickly promoted to captain. He served on the staff of David Hunter first in Kansas then in the Department of the South where he rendered valuable services at the battle of Fort Pulaski.


On June 13, 1863 Turner was appointed chief of staff in the Department of the South under Quincy A. Gillmore. He participated in the operations against Charleston, South Carolina in 1863. On September 6, 1863 Turner was awarded a brevet promotion to Major, U.S. Army for his service at Battery Wagner. The following day he was appointed brigadier general of U.S. Volunteers.[1]


In May 1864 Gillmore's X Corps was transferred to the Petersburg front and Turner continued as chief of staff through the Bermuda Hundred Campaign. On June 22, 1864 he received his first infantry command of the war at the head of the 2nd Division, X Corps. Turner and his division participated in the Siege of Petersburg, primarily north of the James River. Although held in reserve at the battle of the Crater, Turner was nonetheless given a brevet promotion to lieutenant colonel, U.S. Army.[1] During the Winter of 1864/1865 he served as chief of staff to the Army of the James.

Fort Gregg and Appomattox[edit]

The defeat of Confederate forces in the Shenandoah Valley freed up available units in Philip H. Sheridan's Army of the Shenandoah to be sent to the Petersburg front. In March, Turner assumed command of the so-called Independent Division[2] of reinforcements from the recently victorious Army of the Shenandoah. Despite its name, Turner's Independent Division was attached to the newly created XXIV Corps under John Gibbon. At the end of the Petersburg Campaign, Gibbon's corps was assigned the task of assaulting Forts Gregg and Whitworth. Turner's division was split between the two forts, sending one brigade against the lesser Fort Whitworth, while the other two joined Robert S. Foster in the main thrust against Fort Gregg.[3] With the fall of Petersburg, Turner participated in the forced march to Appomattox Courthouse, where he and other troops of the Army of the James directly intercepted Robert E. Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia. Turner was given a brevet promotions to colonel, brigadier general and major general in the U.S. Army for services at Petersburg.

Later life[edit]

Turner was in command of the XXIV Corps when he was mustered out of the volunteer service on September 1, 1866. He continued service in the U.S. Army until 1871. In private life he worked as a banker, civil engineer and public works commissioner in St. Louis until his death in 1899. He is buried in Calvary Cemetery.


  1. ^ a b Eicher p.538
  2. ^ Official Records
  3. ^ Epperson, James F., "The Final Assaults and the Fall of Petersburg". Archived from the original on June 20, 2006. Retrieved 2010-11-12.