By Norm Clarke
Special to the Tribune
A Terry connection surfaces in Steven Spielberg’s new film, “Lincoln," starring Daniel Day-Lewis.
In a scene involving Day-Lewis as President Abraham Lincoln, discussion during a meeting with his cabinet, including Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton, includes the planned attack on Fort Fisher in North Carolina.
It was in early 1865 at Fort Fisher, known as “the Gibraltor of the South,” that Union general Alfred H. Terry enjoyed his greatest success.
Although he is not mentioned by name in the film, Terry was Gen. Ulysses S. Grant’s choice to command the ground forces for the second attempt to capture the vital fort in the final months of the Civil War.
Described as massive and powerful, Fort Fisher was key to the security of Wilmington, N.C., the Confederacy’s largest and last major port. Blockade-running steamers had been a supply lifeline for Gen. Robert E. Lee’s vaunted Army of Northern Virginia.
After Fort Fisher fell in January, Terry wrote: “From this point (on) our foothold on the peninsula was secured.”
Wilmington was captured a month later and the war was over in May.
Terry, then in his late 30s, was promoted to major general of volunteers and brigadier general in the regular army.
After the war, he was twice named commander of U.S. forces in the Dakota Territory. Gen. George Armstrong was under Terry’s command when they traveled along the Yellowstone River, in what would later be known as eastern Montana, on their way to the Little Bighorn in 1876.
In 1882, with the construction of a railroad as the catalyst, the town of Terry bloomed on the prairie, named after a former Connecticut lawyer who led volunteers into the war and rose to the rank of general.
Published Nov. 28, 2012