William Carter Cherry
of Navarro County, Texas


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WILLIAM CARTER CHERRY, a prominent and widely known cotton-buyer of Corsicana, Texas, was born in Chambers county, Alabama, June 12, 1840. He was a son of Dr. James A. Cherry, who was born in old Pendleton, South Carolina, in 1811, and died at his home in Chambers county, Alabama, November 7, 1889. He was a graduate of Charleston Medical College and was a distinguished physician through life, a man of rare endowments, of great social qualities and extensively known for his princely hospitalities. He married, in 1833, Mary Elizabeth, daughter of Horace Reese, also of South Carolina, and a member of a distinguished family, one of whom was a signer of the famous Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence; another later (Dr. Addison Reese), after a contest for Congress of great excitement, defeated Hon. Alexander H. Stephens; another member was a Chief Justice of Georgia. The grandfather, Samuel Cherry, was a prominent merchant for many years at his home in Pendleton, South Carolina, prior to 1830. The subject of our sketch at the out-break of the Civil War was a member of a crack military company of West Point, Georgia, called the West Point Guards, whose members were wealthy and well educated, and whose officers were military graduates, and, after repeated solicitations to the Governor of Georgia (Brown), succeeded in entering the service of the Confederacy in 1861 at Augusta, Georgia. The company was immediately assigned to duty at the Gosport Navy Yard, Portsmouth, Virginia, arriving just  in time to see it destroyed by fire by the retreating Federal soldiers. The first duty of private Cherry as a soldier was to help rescue the afterward famous man-of-war, "Merrimac," to the Confederacy. While there was but little active service in that part of Virginia for twelve months, the subject of our sketch was placed in charge of a land battery of heavy ordnance, at Pig's Point, during the famous naval battle between the Merrimac and the Federal fleet in Hampton Roads. Subsequently, with his company and regiment (Colonel George Doles, Fourth Georgia, commanding), was ordered in the spring of 1862 to the defense of Richmond, at that time menaced by General McClellan's army, arriving just in time to participate in the Seven Days' battle, taking part with his command in that memorable conflict; also at "King's Schoolhouse" and the famous slaughter-pen, "Malvern Hill," at which place the command was badly used up. After resting a month it was ordered to the relief of Stonewall Jackson, then being pressed by General Pope at South Mountain and Manassas, Virginia. He was also  an active participant under Lee and Jackson in the battles which followed so fast during the famous campaign, beginning at South Mountain, Maryland, then Harper's Ferry and Sharpsburg, Maryland, and escaping without any serious wounds. Subsequently he was with his company and regiment, then in Jackson'/s command, in the bloody  battle of Raccoon Ford, on the Rappahannock, and then Fredericksburg. The next great battle he fought in was Chancellorsville, in May 1863, when he was wounded, but not disabled, at a point where General Jackson received his death wounds. He subsequently fought with his command in the invasion of Pennsylvania, and was in the ever memorable battle of Gettysburg, and then later in Grant's campaign of 1864, the series of battles in the Wilderness, beginning May 5, 1864, and was made prisoner May 10 at Spotsylvania Court House during a charge of General Grant's troops on the Confederate lines, he being in command of the skirmishers of the brigade, where he was slightly wounded. He was taken to the prison at Fort Delaware, and with about 200 Confederate officers, was sent down to Charleston Harbor, to be placed under fire of the Confederate guns of Forts Sumter and Moultrie in front of the Federal Fort Wagner, as a retaliatory measure against the treatment of some Federal prisoners they were then receiving. Six months later they were sent up the James river for exchange, but the negotiations miscarried, and they were returned early in 1865 to Fort Delaware prison, where they remained until released in June, 1865, after the surrender of Generals Lee and Johnston, when he returned home.

In 1876 the subject of this memoir married the eldest daughter, Mattie, daughter of J. T. and M. L Porter, in Atlanta, Georgia, which union was blessed with four children: Mattie, Lulu, William C. and Mary, the two later deceased. The accomplished and lovely wife and mother died May 1882. Having never married again, Mr. Cherry devotes his time and attention to the care and education of his two bright and interesting daughters, Mattie and Lulu, who are being instructed at the Sacred Heart Convent, Corsicana.

Mr. Cherry is one of the largest cotton operators in this section of the State, which business he has pursued for man years with success. He believes in Corsicana, and expects to live and die there, holding it to be the greatest city in the greatest State and the greatest country on earth. Mr. Cherry is a man above the usual height, tall, well proportioned and of fine presence. By nature he is genial, benevolent and charitable, steadfast and true in his friendships. He is liberal in his views, public-spirited, and stands high in the estimation of the people.

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Navarro County TXGenWeb
Copyright March, 2009
Edward L. Williams & Barbara Knox