MAJOR GENERAL FITZ JOHN PORTER - AUTOGRAPH LETTER SIGNED 01/24/1882 - HFSID 72769
Sale Price $2,550.00
THE FORMER UNION OFFICER IS SUPPORTED BY
CONFEDERATE OFFICERS AS HE FIGHTS TO CLEAR HIS
FITZ JOHN PORTER. ALS: "F.J. Porter", 4p, 5x7¾. New York, 1882 January 24. To Colonel Charles Marshall, Baltimore, Maryland. Begins: "My dear Colonel". In full: "I Thank you warmly for your full reply to my letter - I knew or believed that no written messages had passed between Longstreet & Gen Lee to the effect I wrote you - but Longstreet had testified to that effect before the Board. had written it years before. and Col. W.M Owens of New Orleans. had without confering (sic) with Longstreet. stated he heard Gen Lee about 1. PM. tell Longstreet to advance. & Longstreets reply that he wanted to hear from Stuart of the force coming up on this right - and So I took it for granted it was so. I am glad to have the details you give. That Genl Lee had a contempt for Genl Pope and justly I never doubted. He knew Pope. I don't think that any grounds could have induced him to make the moves he did. unless he was vastly superior in numbers to Pope and knew Pope would not be reinforced in time to save him. and I think it was fortunate for him that he did not get around to his flank as early as you say he intended. As then he would have had a united and not demoralized army to meet - one strengthened by Franklin & Sumner & Couch - However that is speculation. I never supposed that Genl Lee intended to give battle till he was near to Washington or in Maryland - If you will look at my dispatch No 20 in my statement before the Board. you will see that on Aug 27th (not knowing Jackson was behind us) I considered your army was on the way to Maryland. and had a contempt for ours. I have always thought if Pope had had military brains on that day (Aug 28th) and not have gone 'towards Centreville taking Reno & Heintzelman as a body guard' (No 24) especially as we knew at 2 PM (No 28) that Jackson was not there - I have always thought. notwithstanding the bungling that would have been manifested between Pope & McDowell (by the jealousy & ambition of McD - and the fear on Pope's part of being known as controlled by McD) - I have always thought Lee would have had the greatest cause to regret his overconfidence, and that Jackson would have been destroyed - There is now being translated for publication Maj Mangold's history of that campaign. It is like a novel - Full facts & details are given & well put together. Lee's maneuvering up the Rappahannock and deception of Pope is admirably described - I have seen as far as the beginning of Aug 29th With good wishes". Lightly creased with folds, vertical fold at the "F" of signature. Light show through of ink, minor stains at some words (all legible). Chipped at blank left edge of verso of integral leaf. Accompanied by original envelope signed: "F.J. Porter", 5¾x3¼. Stamp removed, but postmarked New York, 1882 January 24. Addressed by Porter to: "Colonel Charles Marshall, c/o Marshall & Fisher, Baltimore Md". Porter has also crossed off the imprinted return address and handwritten: "111 Broadway". Chipped and torn at upper edge, ½-inch tear at lower blank edge. Lightly stained, touching 3 words of writing. FITZ JOHN PORTER (1822-1901), court-martialed in January 1863 for disobedience during the Second Battle of Bull Run (Manassas), wrote this letter to Colonel CHARLES MARSHALL, a former aide to and biographer of General Robert E. Lee, whom Porter knew from boyhood (he had also served as Lee's Adjutant at West Point). Having served under General GEORGE McCLELLAN in the Peninsular campaign, Brigadier General Porter and other Corps officers were assigned to General JOHN POPE and his Army of Virginia. Most of McClellan's officers did not like Pope, and Porter had unfortunately made comments about Pope prior to his transfer. Porter 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 ROBERT E. LEE, Pope ordered advancement of the troops under Porter and General IRWIN McDOWELL, the losing commander of First Manassas. However, McDowell had separated from Porter and moved up Sudley Spring Road, leaving Porter to engage in a defensive battle with JAMES LONGSTREET and THOMAS "STONEWALL" JACKSON. Although he was unable to advance that day as ordered, Porter was able to follow orders the next day, after his control of his troops had prevented a complete routing of the Union Army and further advancement towards Washington by the Confederate forces. Three months later, Porter was again serving with McClellan when he was arrested in Maryland and taken to Washington, where he was held for court-martial. McDowell had been relieved of duty for his ineffective role and had become vindictive towards Porter. Pope issued charges against Porter for disloyalty, misconduct and disobedience by means of failure to advance and attack according to War Articles 9 and 52. Because of Porter's earlier comments about Pope, erroneous testimony and the political prejudices of Radical Republicans who were against Lee and all things Confederate (which they believed Porter abetted), Porter was found guilty. He was court-martialed and cashiered in January 1863. Nineteen years after his court-martial, Porter was still trying to clear his name and military record, and former Confederate officers Marshall, Lee and Longstreet all supported the former Union officer. Longstreet testified that Porter had no prior knowledge of their movements and was, in fact, under siege -- with Jackson closing in on Porter while Longstreet was in front of him (a disastrous folly if Porter had advanced as ordered). Longstreet had voluntarily come forward at a hearing by a second board established by President Rutherford B. Hayes (1877-1881). In May 1882, the board presented its findings to President Chester Arthur, who rescinded the cashiership that forbade Porter from holding any government positions. However, based on a technicality, Arthur vetoed a bill that would have completely exonerated Porter. In December 1882, former President Ulysses S. Grant published a study of Porter's case, declaring Porter innocent of the charges in "An Undeserved Stigma". Ironically, Grant was trying to get reinstated in the Army at this time, as well, and Arthur vetoed the December 1882 bill that would have placed both Grant and Porter on the retired list. A determined Porter continued his efforts, but it took four more years before President Grover Cleveland would approve a bill passed in Congress in August 1866. That bill restored Porter to the Army at the rank of Colonel, retroactive to May 1861. Two items. Framed in the Gallery of History style: 41x26.
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