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John Gray Foster
Soldier, convert, b. at Whitfield, New Hampshire, U.S.A., 27 May, 1823; d. at Nashua, New Hampshire, 2 September, 1874. After graduating at the West Point Military Academy in 1846, he served as a lieutenant in the Engineer Corps during the Mexican War, where he was wounded at the battle of Molino del Rey. A service on the Coast Survey, 1852-54, brought him promotion to a first lieutenancy and assignment as assistant professor of engineering at West Point, where he was stationed from 1855 to 1857.
When the Civil War broke out Foster was in command at Fort Moultrie, Charleston harbour, and during the night of 26 December, 1860, succeeded in transferring the garrison under his command to Fort Sumter, in the subsequent defence of which he took so conspicuous a part as to earn the brevet rank of major. He was commissioned a brigadier-general of volunteers, 23 October, 1861, and assisted in Burnside's North Carolina expedition. It was at this time that his conversion occurred, his baptism taking place in New York, 4 November, 1861. He was commander of the Department of North Carolina, during 1862-3, with the rank of major-general. The combined Departments of Virginia and North Carolina were assigned to him from July to November, 1863, and then that of Ohio, which he had to relinquish, owing to injuries received by a fall from his horse. He next aided Sherman in the reduction of Charleston, and for gallant services in the capture of Savannah was breveted brigadier-general in the regular army. During 1865-6 he was in command of the Department of Florida, and then superintended various river and harbour improvements. In the harbours of Boston and Portsmouth he conducted, with great ability and success, important submarine operations, an experience which added the value of direct experience to his work on "Submarine Blasting in Boston Harbor" (New York, 1869) and his articles in various periodicals on engineering subjects, which received high professional approval.
THOMAS F. MEEHAN