Confederate Brigadier-General Edward A. Perry, born on a farm near Richmond, Massachusetts in 1831, was descended from old New England stock which migrated to America in the 1630’s. He attended Yale for two years before moving to Alabama where he taught school and studied law. In the postwar he rebuilt his life and turned to politics in the 1880s, and became governor in 1885. His primary platform issue was replacing the odious carpetbag constitution forced upon Floridians in 1868.
A Pensacola Lawyer from New England
“Perry moved to Pensacola, Florida about 1856, where he formed a partnership with Richard L. Campbell. Perry and Virginia Taylor [of Alabama] were married during this time and led a quiet and happy life together until he volunteered to defend his adopted State.
On the eve of the Civil War Pensacola seethed with military activities. Federal soldiers with the stars and stripes overhead held the forts guarding the harbor. A town which normally welcomed the regulars, now presented a hostile front. The young lawyer had a hard and momentous decision to make, for his native State and his family – were loyal to the Union.
His wife was a Southerner and he had chosen to make his living in the South. Although it meant fighting against his brothers, he volunteered his services to his State, the State of his adoption. Early in 1861 he was elected captain of an infantry company known as the Pensacola Rifle Rangers. The company first saw service near Pensacola when they captured the naval base, with Fort Barrancas and Fort McRee. In July, 1861, the Rifle Rangers became Company A, Second Florida Infantry Regiment, and was assigned to the Army of Northern Virginia.
The regiment received its baptism of fire in the defense of Yorktown . . . On May 10, 1862, Perry was elected colonel of the Second Florida, [after] first demonstrating his leadership in the Seven Days fight for Richmond. In November the Florida regiments . . . [were] organized into the Florida Brigade under the command of Perry, promoted to brigadier-general.
[Perry led his men at Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville, but contracted typhoid fever before Gettysburg, where] the Florida Brigade lost about one-half its effective strength. At the Wilderness in May of 1864, General Perry, badly wounded, became permanently disabled for front line duty, thus depriving Florida troops of their gallant leader. [By late 1864] Perry’s men, who had once numbered over three thousand, were down to less than five hundred. When the end came at Appomattox . . . the original Perry Brigade numbers nineteen officers and 136 men left of the original three thousand.”
(Edward A. Perry, Yankee General of the Florida Brigade, Sigsbee C. Prince, Jr., Florida Historical Quarterly, Vol. 29, No. 3, January 1951, excerpts pp. 197-203)