He attended Virginia Military Institute. After the war, he studied law at the University of Virginia, where he was initiated a Brother of Beta Theta Pi fraternity in 1867. That same year he graduated and was admitted to the Barometer
During the American Civil War, he served with the Virginia Military Institute Corps of Cadets at the Battle of New Market. He was posted in charge guard of the Cadets" baggage train and in defying orders, took part in the Cadets" famous charge. After the battle, he was commissioned in the Confederate States Army.
Wise practiced law in Richmond, Virginia for many years.
In 1880, he was an unsuccessful candidate for United States. Representative. In May 1882, he was appointed United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, serving until March 1883.
Later in 1882, Wise was elected United States. Representative for Virginia"s at-large seat as "Readjuster" – a label used by a coalition of Republicans and dissident Virginia Democrats. He served in the 48th United States Congress, from 1883 to 1885.
Before the 1884 elections, Virginia"s districts were redrawn, abolishing the at-large seat.
Wise did not seek re-election from a district. Instead, in 1885 he ran for Governor of Virginia as a Republican, but lost to Democrat Fitzhugh Lee. Wise later moved to New York City, and practiced law there till his retirement.
He died in 1913, near Princess Anne, Maryland, and was buried in Richmond.
John Wise wrote several books, most notably a memoir entitled The End of an Era, reprinted in numerous editions since its first publication. Principal literary works
Diomed: The Life, Travels, and Observations of a Dog (1897)
The End of an Era (1899)
The Lion"s Skin: a Historical Novel and a Novel History (1905)
Recollections of Thirteen Presidents (1906)
John Sergeant Wise
Hugh Douglas Wise
Henry Alexander Wise
John Sergeant Wise
Eva Douglas Wise
Margaretta Watnough Wise
Byrd Douglas Wise
Wise was portrayed by Luke Benward in the 2014 film Field of Lost Shoes, which depicted the Battle of New Market.
Member 48th Congress (1883-1885), Virginia at-large.
Married Evelyn Beverly Douglas, November 3, 1869.