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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