MAJOR GENERAL FITZ JOHN PORTER - AUTOGRAPH LETTER SIGNED 01/22/1870 - HFSID 72768
Sale Price $2,550.00
FITZ JOHN PORTER
Court-martialed after Second Bull Run, the Union officer defends his actions to Robert E. Lee's biographer and tells of his long friendship with the Confederate General.
Important ALS: "F.J. Porter", 3¼ p, New York, 1870 January 22. To General Robert E. Lee's former Aide-de-Camp, Colonel Charles Marshall, who at the time was in the midst of writing an autobiography of his experiences with the General: An Aide-De-Camp of Lee, Being The Papers of Colonel Charles Marshall. Marshall corresponded with many of Lee's subordinates in an effort to collect their correspondences with Lee for reference and publication in the book. Porter had known Lee since his boyhood and was "close to him" in the Mexican War and "at West Point, where for a time I [Porter] was his adjt". General Lee died just nine months after this letter. Porter writes, in full: "I have yours- and thank you. The opinions quoted in my 'data' are all from original letters - I had Genl Lee's written permission to use his letters, whenever I deemed it necessary - I withheld on account of delicacy to him, and to prevent his name, during life, being banded about by Radical hounds. I have put the matter generally as if the letters were not to me - hence the reason I am generally spoken of in the 3rd person. Wilcox told me that Anderson got up close enough to have reinforced Jackson on the 29th and bolted into Hoods (sic) position at night. Beverly Robertson now here says the same - also others - all confirming Genl Lee. I try to be accurate and will be if possible. The quarrel now is entirely between McDowell and me- I don't care for Pope except to hit McD- who has been hard at work in Washington & arrested Grant's favorable action last spring. Genl McD - gave me full information of your army - and of the policy to be pursued at 2d Bull Run - He really commanded & Pope only went outside of his views when he could not consult. My course at Bull Run was dictated by McD (sic) advice - He denied it and I had no proof- our interviews being unattended. He had to persecute me- to secure himself against the denunciations attendant upon his leaving me and going to Groveton via Sudley Sp. road. His course was wrong, if I was to fight or advance and I denounced him as giving false testimony. My 'data' & sketches when completed will be sent to you. In your biography of Genl Lee I may be able to give you some few thoughts or rather data to illustrate characteristics of which you will comment. I knew him in my boy-hood in Alexandria- was close to him in Mexico- and at West Point, where for a time I was his adjt-but should you come this way I will talk with you - and when you get to writing of Bull Run. I give you some data on our side." Court-martialed in 1863 for disobedience during the Second Battle of Bull Run (Manassas), FITZ JOHN PORTER again was trying to clear his name and military record. Having served under General GEORGE McCLELLAN in the Peninsular campaign, Brigadier General Porter and other Corps officers were then assigned to General JOHN POPE and his Army of Virginia. Most of McClellan's officers did not like Pope and being assigned under him made matters more difficult. Porter had unfortunately made comments about Pope prior to his assignment. He did, however, attempt to follow Pope's orders, but trouble soon arose. At the second confrontation with the Confederates at Bull Run (August 29-30, 1862), this time against Lee, Pope ordered advancement of the corps of Porter and General IRWIN McDOWELL, thelosing commander of the First Manassas. However, McDowell had separated from Porter and moved up the Sudley Spring Road, leaving Porter to engage in defensive battle with Confederate General James Longstreet and unable to advance. The next day opportunity arose to comply with the order to advance and attack, and he did so. Porter's control of his corps prevented a complete rout of the Union army and further advancement toward Washington by the Rebels. Three months later, Porter was again serving with McClellan when he was arrested in Maryland, taken to Washington and held for court-martial. McDowell had been relieved of duty for his ineffective role and became vindictive toward Porter. Pope had issued charges of disloyalty, misconduct and disobedience by means of failure to advance and attack, according to War Articles 9 and 52. Because of his earlier comments, erroneous testimony by McDowell and the political prejudices of Radical Republican Party members, who were against Lee and all things Confederate (which they believed Porter abetted), Porter was found guilty of the charges in January 1863, court-martialed and cashiered. The year before this letter, the Khedive of Egypt offered Porter the position of Major General of Egyptian forces; Porter declined in order to continue his pursuit of vindication. At the time of this letter, he was engaged in business in New York and would in two years supervise the construction of an asylum in New Jersey. Porter constantly strove to clear his name. However, it took nearly 24 years before an Act of Congress (August 1886), approved by President Grover Cleveland, restored Porter to the Army at the rank of Colonel, retroactive to May 1861. As Porter stated in his letter, he had known Lee for many years and had served with him under Winfield Scott in the War with Mexico (1846-1848) and had been Adjutant to Lee when he was Superintendent of West Point (1852-1855). Folds, 1 touches the "J" in signature. Fine condition. Framed in the Gallery of History Style: 39½x21.
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