BG William Flank Perry

BG William Flank Perry  

 

William F. Perry was born on March 12, 1823 in Jackson County, Georgia.  He moved with his family to Chambers County, Alabama in 1833. Perry had little or no formal education but he taught himself enough to become a teacher from 1848 to 1853 and a lawyer in 1854, although he never engaged in the practice of law.

Perry was elected and twice re-elected as Alabama's first superintendent of public education and served between 1854 and 1858.  He then resigned to become president of East Alabama Female College, at Tuskegee, the then named Tuskegee Female College, now Huntingdon College.

On May 6, 1862, Perry enlisted as a private in the 44th Alabama Infantry Regiment. Ten days later, he was appointed major of the regiment.  Perry's regiment served in the Army of Northern Virginia under the overall command of General Robert E. Lee. On September 1, 1862, Perry was promoted to lieutenant colonel of the regiment and later the same month, on September 17, 1862, after the Battle of Antietam, he was promoted to colonel.

Perry was wounded by an artillery shell exploding near his head while he led the 44th Alabama Infantry in Major General John Bell Hood's division's general attack on the left flank of the Union Army line on Cemetery Hill and Little Round Top, near the area of boulders known as Devil's Den, on the second day of the Battle of Gettysburg.   Perry's brigade commander ordered his brigade, including Perry's 44th Alabama Infantry, to support the attack of Brigadier General Jerome B. Robertson's brigade by moving over Plum Rum toward Devil's Den.   As they approached this objective, General Law ordered Perry to seize four guns on the upslope behind Devil's Den as part of the assault.  Perry's regiment had stalled about 50 yards short of Devil's Den when Perry was wounded.  As Perry expressed concern about nearby artillery to Major Cary of his regiment, a shell landed near Perry's head, wounding him.  After Georgia regiments from Brigadier General Henry Benning's brigade moved forward in support of the 44th Alabama Infantry and 48th Alabama Infantry, the Confederates cleared out the Fourth New York Artillery Battery under Captain James E. Smith and ultimately won control of Devil's Den and nearby woods.  The 44th Alabama Infantry held this area while other regiments from Law's and Robertson's brigades unsuccessfully assaulted Little Round Top.

Between December 19, 1863 and April 1864 and between June 3, 1864 and August 9, 1865, Perry commanded Evander M. Law's former brigade.[3] During the first period, the brigade was in Lieutenant General John Bell Hood's Division in the Department of East Tennessee while on detached service in the western theater with Lieutenant General James Longstreet's corps.   In the second period, following the Battle of Cold Harbor, the brigade was in Major General Charles W. Field's Division, I Corps, Army of Northern Virginia.  Perry was wounded again when he tumbled into a hole at the Second Battle of Deep Bottom, at New Market Heights, Virginia, in August 1864.  Longstreet and other high-ranking officers several times urged that Perry be promoted, but Perry was not promoted to brigadier general until February 21, 1865.  Perry was paroled at Appomattox Court HouseVirginia, April 9, 1865.

Perry became a planter for two years after the war but then moved to Kentucky where he resumed teaching.  He was a professor at Ogden College in Bowling Green.  He died on December 18, 1901 and is buried in Fairview Cemetery, Bowling Green Kentucky.