He was a Major General and a Rear Admiral in his life...


Well-Known Member
Jul 28, 2019
Reaction score
I found the Union general who was a naval officer before he became an army major general. He organize East Tennessee unionist and later commanded a corps. After the war he rejoined the navy and became the commandant of the Naval Academy and later rear admiral. While he was serving in the Union Army, the U.S. Navy promoted him to lieutenant commander in 1863, then to commander in 1865.

Samuel Perry "Powhatan" Carter (August 6, 1819 – May 26, 1891) was a United States naval officer who served in the Union Army as a brevet major general during the American Civil War and became a rear admiral in the postbellum United States Navy. He was the first and thus far only United States officer to have been commissioned both a general officer and a Naval flag officer. C.f.: Joseph D. Stewart, Major General, (United States Marine Corps) and Vice Admiral (United States Maritime Service), the USMS being a civilian agency. C.f. also: Rear Admiral and Brigadier General Raphael Semmes, Confederate States Navy and Army.

Here is a newspaper article about his actions in east Tennessee

Carter joined the Navy as a midshipman before entering the U.S. Naval Academy. After graduating, he was assigned to the USS Ohio, seeing action in the Mexican-American War during the Battle of Veracruz. He continued in various assignments in the Navy, earning promotions and eventually being appointed to the staff at the Naval Academy.

At the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861, Carter was serving on the USS Seminole. He sent a letter pledging his loyalty to the United States to Sen. Andrew Johnson and another letter to Secretary of the Navy Gideon Wells volunteering to take a leave from the service to organize East Tennessee unionists for military service. Johnson met with President Abraham Lincoln, after which Carter was detached from the Navy and sent to East Tennessee.

Carter continued on in the Army during the war, commanding the cavalry of the XXII Corps during the Knoxville campaign before being promoted to brevet major general and briefly commanding the XXII Corps itself.

With that promotion, Samuel Carter became something unique: the only person in the U.S. military to hold both the rank of general in the Army and admiral in the Navy.

Here a side story... Kirby Smith order his family and other unionist families out of Tennessee...

Soon after the accession of Gen. Smith, the celebrated orders directing Mrs. Andrew Johnson, Mrs. W. G. Brownlow, Mrs. Horace Maynard, and Mrs. William B, Carter, with their families, to leave the state and go north, were issued at his command … These families were ordered to leave in thirty-six hours … harmless, innocent ladies, … all of whom were verging on old age, and two of them well advanced in life. It is no justification of such a policy to say that General S. P. Carter afterwards sent out of Knoxville women and children, nor that Andrew Johnson did the same at Nashville and General Sherman at Atlanta. It is enough to say that the practice, except in cases of actual danger to the general cause, is one to be discountenanced rather than encouraged. …