Born at Pampatike, he was the third child of Thomas Nelson Carter and Juliette Gaines Carter. His father was a first cousin to Robert E. Lee. Educated at V.M.I. He recruited the King William Artillery, and became the commander of a division of artillery. He distinguished himself at Seven Pines, Seven Days, Sharpsburg, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg and Petersburg. He was in Richmond when it was evacuated and surrendered with Lee at Appomattox.