A Civil War Biography
Sterling Alexander Martin Wood
Wood was born 17 March 1823 in Florence, Alabama. He graduated from
St. Joseph's College, a school run by the Jesuits in Bardstown,
Kentucky, in 1841. He then studied the law and went to work as an
attorney in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. He then relocated to Florence,
Alabama where he established a law practice. In 1851 he was
appointed solicitor for the 4th circuit court of Alabama. In 1857 he
was elected to the state legislature. In 1860 he became the editor
of the Florence "Gazette" through which he supported John C.
Breckinridge in the presidential election of 1860.
When the war erupted Wood became the captain of the Florence Guards.
After that unit became part of the 7th Alabama infantry regiment, he
became its colonel on 18 May 1861. He commanded the 7th at
Pensacola, Florida. On 7 January 1862 he was promoted to brigadier
general. He saw action at Shiloh commanding the 3rd brigade in
William J. Hardee's corps. Wood commanded the 4th brigade in Simon
B. Buckner's division at Perryville where Wood was wounded. He
commanded the 4th brigade in Patrick R. Cleburne's division at
Murfreesboro. Wood was then temporarily assigned command of the
District of North Alabama. He returned to command of the 4th
division under Cleburne at Chickamauga. Although it has been
theorized that his failure to gain recognition for his efforts at
Chickamauga turned him against his superiors, no one is really sure
why Wood resigned from the army on 17 October 1863.
After resigning from the army Wood returned to Alabama, setting up a
law practice in Tuscaloosa. Following the war he was an attorney for
the Alabama Great Southern Railway. In 1882 he was elected to the
state legislature. He taught law at the University of Alabama from
1889 until 1890. Wood died 26 January 1891 in Tuscaloosa.
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