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W-lxauunation of tfe 









Appeal to the President. 
I. General McClellan s Opinion. 
IT. Dr. Guernsey s Review. 

III. General Longstreet s Letter. 

IV. General Wilcox s Letter. 
V. Colonel Marshall s Letter. 

VI. Letter to General Grant. 

VII. General Pope s Protest to a re-examination. 
VIII. Reply to General Pope s Protest. 
IX. Original appeal for re-hearing, with Petitions, etc. 
General Franklin s Letter to General Grant 


Record of Court Martial published by Congress, with Judge- 
Advocate-General-Holt s Review. 

Mr. Reverdy Johnson s Reply to Mr. Holt. 

Mr. Holt s Reply. 

Volume 9, Rebellion Record, containing General R, E. Lee s 
Report of the " Operations of the Army of Northern Vir 
ginia," with Sub-Reports. 


MORRISTOWN, N. J., June 2lst, 1869. 


Commanding Army of the United States. 

GENERAL : The President of the United States having as 
sured my friends, who have recently brought my case to his 
notice, that "if injustice had been done me it should be righted," 
and intimated a purpose of primarily obtaining the opinion of 
the Hon. Secretary of War an d yourself, as to the mode of re 
dress under given circumstances, I have deemed it proper to 
have put in print the papers relating to my case, with a view of 
facilitating your examination of them. 

The President, Secretaty of War and yourself, having 
achieved the highest honors which successful generalship ever 
receives from our people, I could not covet an investigation, 
and, if practicable a decision in my case, from any superior 

My desire to have the whole case as it now stands, adjudi 
cated by soldiers, will be fully met by a decision rendered by 
the President, the Secretary of War and yourself, if such a 
mode be, as I trust it may be, found practicable. 

I am, General, 

With high respect, 

Your obedient servant, 







w-tsmnhration of the 

T T 







M O R R I S T O W N , N . J . 


MOREISTOWN, N. J., June 10#A, 1869. 

GENL. WILLIAM T. SHERMAN, Head Quarters of the Army, 
Washington, D. C. 

Sin : I apply to you as General Commanding the Army, to 
transmit to the President, and to recommend to his favorable 
consideration, this, my application to him : 

1st. To remit the sentence of the Court Martial now in force 
against me of disqualification " forever to hold any office of 
trust or profit under the Government of the United States :" 

2nd. To be nominated to the Senate for restoration to my 
rank in the Army, under the late act of Congress allowing that 
mode of redress of wrong by a Court Martial. 

I beg to ask, most respectfully, your intervention in my applica 
tion to the President, because, in the first place, I desire to put 
my case before him upon its merits unwarped and unencum 
bered by political or party passion, and, in the next place, be 
cause I seek to be judged as a soldier, by soldiers whose judgment 
the country will respect, and history accept as true and final. 

With due elimination from the investigation of all matters not 
pertinent to the charges, I am prepared to satisfy such a tribunal 
that my sentence was unjust. I have newly discovered evidence 
which conclusively establishes how false was the principal ac 

It is matter of general information that the allegations 
against me were inspired by the failure of General Pope s cam. 
paign in Virginia. His friends undertook to maintain that he 
committed no error ; and to attribute the result of his operations 
to the defection and treasonable misconduct of certain officers 
and soldiers of the Army of the Potomac who preferred to be 
commanded by General McClellan. The formal charges were 


OL , of tlu- condition of the enemy in my front was cor 
rect, I .-mi satisfied that the documents herewith submitted 
\\ ill convince the President, that the sentence against me was on 
all points against the clear weight of evidence in the cane. 

As a portion of the documents on which I make this ap 
plication, through yon, to the President, I submit beside the 
record of the court, a review thereof by Judge-Advocate- 
General Holt ; a commentary on the latter by my counsel on 
the trial, Mr. lieverdy Johnson ; letters from Generals Longstreet 
and Wilcox and Colonel Charles Marshall, A. D. C., and certain 
Confederate reports ; a review of this last named evidence by 
Doctor Guernsey ; and finally General Pope s protest against a 
rehearing of my case, with my reply thereto. 

I would prefer in offering Mr. Johnson s Review, to modify 
some passages in which he has expressed warmly his generous 
estimation of my services, and his strong condemnation of the 
extreme and unparalled injustice with which I have been treated. 
But, as I deem it proper also to lay before you, an anonymous 
pamphlet in reply thereto, written I am informed by Judge- 
Advocate Holt, I ought not to withhold anything in the kind 
judgment of Mr. Johnson concerning me and my case, which 
may be Mr. Holt s provocation and defence for the mode in 
which I am denounced by him, in his elaborate style of invective. 
The language used by Mr. Holt will, I am sure, suggest to you, 
and to the President, that one whose official partiality manifests 
itself by such proofs, ought not now to deal officially with my 

For the vindication of my conduct as a true aud faithful offi 
cer, and of my name and honor, before the country I have en 
deavored to serve, I am chiefly concerned to have your judg 
ment and the judgment of the President. And in this relation 
I am glad to be permitted to submit herewith a brief but com 
prehensive opinion on my case by General McClellan and by 
him handed to me for your perusal. 

I am General, 

Very respectfully 
Your ob t sv t., 


[No. L] 

In the case of Genera,! Fitz John Porter, two points seem to 
li;i\c been chiefly relied upon to justify the verdict: 

1st. The alleged failure to obey the order of 6.30 P. M., 
August 27th, requiring him to move his command at 1 A. M. 
of the 28th. 

2nd. The alleged failure to attack on the 29th August. 

It appears to me that the first point, considered by itself, can 
be disposed of very briefly. Porter s troops were much fatigued 
and needed rest; the night was very dark; the road bad and 
blocked by wagon trains. 

Porter s impulse was to obey the order literally, but his sub 
ordinate Generals (Morell, Sykes, and Butterfield), were so de 
cided in their conviction that the march should be delayed, that 
he yielded to their advice, and started only at three o clock. The 
result showed that a still greater delay would have been judicious, 
as giving the troops more rest, and bringing them to their destina 
tion (mite as early as they actually reached it for they were much 
delayed on the march. It is not charged that any injury to the 
service resulted from the postponement, and it may confidently 
be asserted that no unprejudiced officer of experience would 
maintain that Gen. Porter s action in the case warrants the severe 
sentence passed upon him. He simply exercised a responsibility 
that must sometimes be taken by an officer receiving an order from 
a superior at a distance. With sufficient reasons, and from good 
motives, he departed slightly from the literal requirements of 
the order, while he thoroughly carried out its spirit ; his purpose 
was to reach the end of the march in the shortest time, with the 
least fatigue to his men, and to keep them in proper condition 
for action. This may have been an error of judgment (I do not 
tli ink it was), but surely cannot be regarded as a crime. 


Now, as to the second point, viz. : the alleged failure to attack 
tin- cnciny on the 29th of August. 

I p to about the hour of noon on that day, Gen. McDowell 
was with or near Gen. Porter, and, as the senior officer, was 
vested with the command. He had under his control two divi 
sions of liis own corps those of King and Kicketts. About 
noon lie separated himself from Porter, and, with his two divi 
sions, marched off to join Pope, by a road leading to the left and 
rear of Porter s position. 

It is clear that up to the hour of noon the responsibility for 
any failure to attack rested with McDowell, not with Porter. 

1 do not think it, necessary to consider here the question 
whether Gen. McDowell ought to or could have attacked with 
the joint commands. I merely say that up to the period of his 
departure Porter cannot be held responsible. Porter s respon 
sibility commences, therefore, about noon. The strength of his 
command, after the departure of King s and Kickett s divisions, 
was about 12,000 somewhat less. Porter believed at the time, 
from his own observation, the statements of prisoners, and other 
sources, that Longstreet was in front of him with greatly supe 
rior force. 

The positive evidence is now attainable to prove that Long- 
street was in position with his whole command (more than 
double Porter s corps in strength) before noon on the 29th ? 
ready and anxious to be attacked, and, therefore, that Porter s 
opinions were correct. It appears clear that the only opportunity 
of attacking, with o- od chances of success and decisive results, 
was early in the forenoon, and with all the combined forces of 
Gens. McDowell and Porter. 

As soon as the whole of Longstreet s command was in posi 
tion, the result of such an attack became doubtful. 

For Porter to have made it, after the withdrawal of McDowell s 
two divisions, would have been absolute madness; for to have 
attacked, with less than 12,000 men, a force more than double 
in number, excellent in quality, and strongly posted, would have 
ensured the complete repulse of the attacking party, with heavy 


That attacks must sometimes be made under such circum 
stances is no doubt true, for it is sometimes necessary for a 
portion of an army to sacrifice itself to save the rest of the army, 


or an important part of it. But it does not appear that this was 
such a case. The right of our army was abundantly able to 
take care of itself, and was not hard pressed at the time in 
quest ion. The mere position of Porter s command accomplished 
the very important result of keeping at least double his numbers 
in front of him, and paralyzed them so far as any action against 
our right was concerned. The additional evidence now attain 
able (which could not be had at the time of the trial) proves 
beyond question that Gen. Pope was mistaken in the belief, 
which he then entertained, that Longstreet was still remote 
from thelield of battle, and that Porter had only a small force 
in his front ; it proves that an attack made by Porter at any 
time after Gen. McDowell s departure would, in all probability 
it might be said with certainty, were there any such thing as 
absolute certainty in war have resulted in a complete repulse, 
with great and useless sacrifice of life ; it proves that Porter s 
arrangements were excellent, since they enabled him to hold a 
greatly superior force in check ; it proves that, far from merit 
ing the severe sentence imposed upon him, he in fact deserved 
great praise for his conduct on that day. 

Justice requires that Gen. Porter s conduct on the 30th, when, 
as is acknowledged, he fought his corps most energetically and 
desperately, should be kept in mind when forming an opinion of 
the transactions of the 29th, especially in the light of the new 
evidence now adduced. 


June 4, 1869. 

[No. II.] 


In the course of my studies on the history of the war, I have 
had occasion to investigate minutely the facts in the case ol 
General Kit/ John Porter. The conclusions to which I have 
come, and the data upon which they are based, are set forth in 
the following paper. 


NEW YORK, July 2nd, 1866. 

On the 27th of November, 1862, a court-martial was convened 
for the trial of Major-General Fit/ John* Porter, charged with 
grave military offences. After an investigation which lasted 
forty-five days, the accused was found guilty upon both charges 
and nearly all the specifications brought against him, and was 
sentenced " to be cashiered, and to be forever disqualified from 
holding any office of trust or honor under the government of the 
United Mates" 

I believe, and shall endeavor to show, that this finding of the 
court was unwarranted by the evidence as presented on the 
trial, and by the facts in the case which can now be proven. In 
discussing this proposition, although much unpublished evidence 
has fallen into my hands, I shall not resort to other than official 
documents of admitted validity. The authorities which I shall 
( .jf c , ;,, v the " Proceedings of the Fit/ John Porter Court-Mar 
tial," which will be cited as " (\)urt- Martial ; " General Pope s 
Report of his Campaign, cited as "Po]w*8 7fry>.," which embodies 
many sub-reports; and General R. K. Lee s Report of the 
"Operations of the Army of Northern Virginia," cited as Reb. 
Rec., embodying many sub-reports. The two former documents 
are published by authority of the Congress of the United States ; 
the last by authority of the Confederate Congress, and repub- 
lished in Putnam s Rebellion Record, vol. 9. 


The alleged acts of disobedience were committed on the 28th 
and 29th of August, 1862. Up to that time, it is conceded by 
the prosecution that the military record of Fitz John Porter was 
highly honorable. Commissioned as Colonel in May, 1861, he 
had risen in ten months to the command of an army corps, as 
Major-General. His services during the Peninsular campaign 
were certainly inferior to those of no other commander in the 
Army of the Potomac. Two of the five great battles which 
marked the " seven days " were fought by him ; and for his ser 
vices at Malvern Hill, General McClellan wrote to the Secretary 
of War that, if there were another grade to add to that of 
Major-General, he would ask it for Porter. I shall have occasion 
to show that from the 30th of August onward his military 
conduct did not belie his former reputation. 

On the 27th of August Jackson had turned the right of Pope, 
fallen upon his rear, captured his principal depot of supplies at 
Manassas, and endangered his communications with the capital. 
Porter, with his corps, had just joined the army of Pope. He 
had that afternoon arrived at Warrenton Station, on the rail 
road, ten miles from Bristoe Station, where Hooker had just had 
a sharp encounter with Ewell s division of Jackson s corps. 
Pope, then at Bristoe, sent an order to Porter, of which the fol 
lowing is the essential part : 

The Major-General commanding directs that you start at one 
o clock to-night, and come forward with your whole corps, or 
such part of it as is with you, so as to be here by daylight to 
morrow morning. Hooker has had a very severe action with 
the enemy, with a loss of about three hundred killed and 
wounded. The enemy has been driven back, but is retiring 
along the railroad. We must drive him from Manassas, and 
clear the country between that and Gainsville, where McDowell 
is. * * * * It is necessary, on all accounts, that you should be 
here by day-light. ( Court-Martial, 6.) 

This order, dated at 6.30 o clock was received by Porter, at 
about 10 P. M. The distance to be reached was about ten 
miles. Between the two points was the railway, with a common 
country road, running sometimes on one side, sometimes on the 
other, and occasionally on both sides of the track. The region 
is somewhat broken, intersected by brooks and patches of wood, 
with here and there a swampy place. The road was also con- 


sidi-rably encumbered by wagons. The night was overcast, 
with no moon visible. About midnight a rain set in, and it be 
came exln -iii.-ly dark. Porter, after coiiHultution with his gen 
erals, Morell, Sykes, and liuttertield, decided, for the above 
reasons, to postpone the commencement of the march until three 
o clock, so that the troops would be fairly on their way at day 
light. These essensial facts are proved by the testimony upon 
the trial. (Sec- Court-Martial ; testimony of Sykes, Morel 1, 
Griffin, Buttertield, and others, pp. 12:3, 144, 100, 162, 170, 185, 
etc.) These officers and others testified that Bristoe would have 
been reached sooner by starting at three o clock than at one 
o clock ; that is, the fatigue, delay, and disorder arising during 
the two hours of absolute darkness would have more than coun 
terbalanced the time which would, apparently, have been 
gained. As it was, the head of the column, owing to the ob 
structions, did not reach Bristoe till after nine o clock. It re 
quired quite six hours, mostly of daylight, to perform a march 
which the letter of the order required to be accomplished in 
three hours of extreme darkness. It was, therefore, physically 
impossible to carry out the order to its full extent. The " dis 
obedience" consisted of postponing for two hours the commence 
ment of its execution. This deviation seems to me to have 
been one fairly within the discretion of a corps commander, who 
must have been aware of many circumstances which the com 
manding general, ten miles away, was unaware. The fact that 
this deviation was advised by officers of such acknowledged ca 
pacity and zeal, is presumptive evidence that it involved want 
neither of zeal nor capacity in Porter. In fact, as it happened, 
it made no difference whether Bristoe was reached at daylight 
or noon. 

This charge would never have been brought except as a make 
weight to the far more serious accusations arising from the 
transactions of the next day. To explain these I must describe 
thc^situation on the 20th of August, both as it appeared to Pope 
and Porter, and as it really was. 

Jackson, whose force amounted to something more than 25,000, 
besides Stuart s cavalry, numbering 6,000, had taken up a strong 
position near the battle-field of Bull Run. Here he resolved to 
await the arrival of Longstreet, who, as he knew, was on the 
march to unite with him. Longstreet s command numbered 


twenty-one brigades (Reb. Rec. ix, 574). The average strength 
of a confederate brigade, at the beginning of these operations, 
a fortnight before, was about 2,500. Longstreet had as yet lost 
only a few scores in battle ; but in his rapid march some had 
doubtless fallen out by the way, but his brigades must still have 
averaged 2,000, making his effective strength more than 40,000. 
Pope supposed him to be, on the morning of the 29th, at a dis 
tance of from thirty to forty-eight hours march; for at that 
time he wrote to McDowell and Porter : " The indications are 
that the whole force of the enemy is moving in this direction 
at a pace that will bring them here by to-morro\v night or the 
next morning." (Pope s Rep., 241). This would give him a 
full day and a half to deal with Jackson alone. 

At this time Pope had 50,000 men, so disposed that half of 
them could fall upon Jackson in front, while the other half 
should assail his right Hank and rear ; between these two forces 
he thought that Jackson must certainly be crushed before Long- 
street could arrive. (Pope s Rep., 19, 20). Upon this supposi 
tion were based the orders of the morning and afternoon of the 
29th, the failure to carry out which forms the ground of the 
second charge against Porter. But, as I shall show beyond 
question, Longstreet at that moment, so far from being a day 
and a half or two days distant from Jackson, was on the point 
of uniting, and had actually in effect united with him. 

It is no part of my present purpose to criticise Pope s cam 
paign, except in so far as relates to the special matter in hand, 
which is the conduct of Porter. But in order to elucidate this, 
I must endeavor to give a general idea of the topography of the 
region in which the operations of August 29 and 30 were 
carried on, and of the position of the forces engaged in those 

The Bull Run Mountains run nearly north and south, and are 
cloven by two gaps, Thoroughfare and Hopewell, about three 
miles apart. Jackson had marched up the western side of this 
range, crossed it at Thoroughfare Gap, and swooped down up 
on Pope s rear. Longstreet was following upon the same track. 
From the mountains, the country slopes eastward toward Bull 
Run River, the distance between the mountains and the river at 
the Stone Bridge being ten or twelve miles. The intervening 
plain, known as that of Manassas, is wooded and often rugged, 


Tin- \V:iiT< -iitiin turnpike crosses this plain from northeast to 
soul Invest ; the Mantissas Gap Railroad crosses it from south 
east to northwest; the railroad and turnpike intersect each 
other at (Gainesville, a village about midway between the moun 
tains and river. Let this figure ( ) serve to represent these 
Ira tu res, now become historical. The line running downwards 
from right, to left stands for the turnpike; that running upwards 
from right to left, the railroad. The lower right hand corner is 
Manassas Junction; the upper right hand corner is the Stone 
IJridge, five miles distant. At the intersection of the two lines 
is Gainesville ; at the upper left hand corner, Thoroughfare Gap. 
Just below the turnpike, a mile from the Stone Bridge, is the 
first Bull Run battle-field; just above it, two miles farther west, 
is that of the second Bull Run, more properly called Groveton, 
from a hamlet there situated. In fact, both battle-fields cross 
the turnpike, but the first was mainly below, the second mainly 
above. The distances, as closely as we can measure them upon 
the large government map used upon the trial, are : Thorough 
fare Gap to Gainesville, five miles ; Gainesville to Groveton, 
four miles ; Groveton to Stone Bridge, three mijes ; Manassas to 
Gainesville seven miles. 

Now, on the morning of August 29, Jackson, with 25,000 
men, was drawn up, his right at Groveton, his line extending 
northward about two miles. Directly in his front was half of 
Pope s force under Reynolds, Sigel, Heint/leman, and Reno, 
twenty-five thousand strong. The other half, of equal strength, 
under McDowell and Porter, lay along the Manassas Railroad 
from the Junction- part way to Gainesville. According to Pope s 
belief, Longstreet was still west of the Bull Run Mountains, al 
though, as I shall have to show, he was by nine o clock in the 
morning east of the mountains as far as Gainesville, and so with 
in four miles of the battle-field at Groveton, where an artillery 
contest at long range had been going on for several hours. 

Early on the morning of the 29th, Pope, being then at Centre- 
ville, farther from Porter than was Longstreet, sent an order to 
Porter and McDowell, of which the following are the essential 
portions, the omitted parts being explanantory of matters which 
do not concern the present inquiry : 

You will please move forward w r ith your joint commands 
toward Gainsville. Heintzelman, Sigel, and Reno are moving 


On the Warrenton turnpike, and must now be not far from 
Guim-snille. I desire that as soon as communication is estab 
lished between this force and your own, the whole command 
shall halt. It may be necessary to fall back behind Bull Run to 
Centreville to-night. I presume it will be so on account of our 
supplies. * * * If any considerable advantages are to be gained 
f>>/ departing from this order, it will not be strictly carried out. 
One thing must be held in view, that the troops must occupy a 
position from which they can reach Bull Run to-night or by 
morning. The indications are that the whole force of the enemy 
is moving in this direction at a pace which will bring them here 
by to-tnorrow night or the next day. [Court- Martial, 7.] 

General McDowell happened at that time to be in ^he position 
of a corps commander without any troops under him. Of his 
two divisions, one, that of Ricketts, had been detached from the 
main column and sent to Thoroughfare Gap to bar the passage 
of Longstreet. It was too late, and had been driven back on 
the previous evening by Longstreet, who was already through 
the Gap. McDowell s other division, that of King, but now 
commanded by Hatch, had been temporarily attached to Por 
ter s corps. McDowell, who had been at Manasses Junction all 
the morning, came up with Porter about noon, and, in virtue of 
liis rank as senior general, took command of the whole force. 
Here some conversation ensued between the two generals. 
McDowell, as is testified to by Colonel Locke and Captain 
Martin (Court- Martial, 135 and 141), said to Porter, " You are 
too far out ; this is no place to fight a battle." McDowell, 
however, testified that he had no recollection of having said this. 
The two generals then rode apart, when McDowell gave an 
order to Porter, respecting which there is an irreconcilable dif 
ference of statement. McDowell testifies (Ibid, 85) that Porter, 
pointing in the direction where the joint order directed them to 
move, said, " We cannot go in there anywhere without getting 
into a fight." McDowell at the time understood the remark to 
mean simply that Porter supposed the enemy was in his imme 
diate front, not that he was indisposed to fight. (Ibid, 89.) He 
then directed Porter to " put his force in there," while he him 
self took King s division of his own corps in another direction. 
Porter asserts that the order was that he should remain where 
he was. (Ibid, 290.) 


While it, must be admitted that McDowell s positive testi 
mony proves that he gave, or intended to give, the order as 
stated by him, everything that followed shows that Porter must 
have understood it as stated by himself. But it is not necessary 
to dwell upon this point, for the charge against Porter is, not 
that he disobeyed the order of McDowell, whatever it was, but 
that he disobeyed the joint order of Pope. McDowell, with his 
men, left that part of the field, and then, as he himself says 
(Ibid, 92), Porter ceased to be under his orders, and came 
directly under those of Pope, their common superior, and espe 
cially under the joint order, which, being the last received, 
superseded others previously given. This order enjoined two 
tilings McDowell and Porter were to move their joint com 
mands towards Gainsville, so as to form a connection with the 
forces of Sigel and Heintzelman and others, who were supposed 
to be near that place ; and they must occupy a position from 
which they could reach Bull Hun that night. Now, Sigel, 
Heintzelman, and the others, instead of being near Gainesville, 
were held in check by Jackson fully four miles to the east, and 
every rod marched in the prescribed direction would have 
removed McDowell and Porter further from a junction, besides 
rendering more difficult the other condition of being able to 
reach Bull Hun that night. The order expressly provided that 
either or both generals to whom it was jointly addressed should 
deviate from it if important advantages would thereby be 
trained. Both did so. McDowell, instead of moving west to- 


ward Gainesville, moved north toward Groveton. 1 he propriety 
of his so doing does not appear to have been brought in question. 
Porter, likewise using the discretion permitted by the order, 
deviated from its terms by remaining where he was. I shall 
endeavor to show that he also was fully justified in so doing; 
and that the same holds good in regard to a later order from 
Pope, the failure to comply with which forms the real burden ol 
the charges against Porter. 

The order was as follows: 

Your line of inarch brings you in on the enemy s right flank. 
1 desire you to push forward into action at once on the enemy s 
flank, and, if possible, on his rear, keeping your right in com 
munication with General Reynolds. The enemy is massed in 
the woods in front of us, but can be shelled out as soon as you 


enagage their flank. Keep heavy reserves, and use your bat 
teries, keeping well closed to your right and rear all the time. 
In case you are obliged to fall back, do so to your right and 
rear, so as to keep you in close communication with the right 
wing. ( Court Martial, 7.) 

The joint order left much to the discretion of those to whom 
it was addressed. The last was peremptory, and failure to com 
ply with it can be justified only on the ground of urgent mili 
tary necessity or impossibility of execution. This order was 
written at half-past four. The aid-de-camp who bore it thinks 
it was delivered about five, but three unimpeached witnesses 
(Court Martial, 127, 130, 136) show that the time was about 
1 in It-past six. 

Both orders are based upon the supposition that the " whole 
force" of the enemy under Longstreet was full twenty-four 
hours distant ; that Jackson s corps was the only body to be en 
countered ; and that the Union force consequently w^as nearly 
double that of the confederates. Whereas, I shall undertake 
to show that Longstreet had united with Jackson fully four 
hours before the last order was written, and six hours before it 
was received, giving the confederates a preponderance of three 
to two ; that the line of march prescribed to Porter would have 
brought him almost directly upon the real confederate centre, 
instead of upon its right flank and rear, as Pope presumed ; 
and that the execution of the order would have involved the 
annihilation of Porter s corps, and could hardly have failed to 
resujt in the destruction of the entire Union army. I shall show 
that Porter knew the essential facts in the case, that Pope did 
not, and that consequently he was fully justified in not comply 
ing with the order. 

The confederate reports embodied in Lee s Report enable us 
to ascertain the positions and movements of his force during 
the 29th of August. 

On the evening of the 28th, Longstreet s whole force bivou 
acked on the east side of the Bull Run Mountains, the main 
body passing through Thoroughfare Gap, the others through 
Hopewell Gap, three miles to the north, having encountered, 
from Ricketts, a slight opposition at the former place, which 
cost them only twenty-five men, killed and wounded (Eeb. Ecc. 
ix, 636). " Early on the morning of the 29th the columns were 


united, and the march to join Jackson was resumed," says 
Longstreet (Ibid, 570). Hood (Ibid, 633) fixes the hour when 
the march was begun. He says, " The next morning at day 
light the march was resumed, this division in the advance." 
Daylight at this season is about 4.30. The head of the column 
could easily have reached Gainesville, five or six miles distant, 
by eight o clock. That it did so is shown by General Buford, in 
command of the Union cavalry, who at nine o clock saw a large 
force marching out of Gainesville, directly in the direction where 
the cannonading was then going on near Groveton, three or four 
miles distant. He counted seventeen regiments of infantry, one 
battery, and about five hundred cavalry. He estimated the 
regiments at about eight hundred each, which would give quite 
fourteen thousand men then close upon the field. ( Court-Mar 
tial, 84, 188.) He reported this at once to McDowell, who 
received the report and communicated it to Porter about noon. 
(Ibid, 84.) Pope, however, does not appear to have received 
this report until evening, long after he had given his order to 
Porter to attack. (Ibid, p. 35.) 

But these troops which Buford saw marching to the field were 
only a part of the confederate force pressing in the same direc 
tion. Wilcox, who commanded that portion which had passed 
through Hopewell Gap, says (Reb. Eec. ix. 641) that his force, 
at 9.30, united with the others at a point about two miles west 
of Gainesville. So that, before ten o clock, the rear of Long- 
street s corps was within five miles of the field, and the head - 
Hood s division must have actually made a junction with 
Jackson. Quite half a score of the confederate commanders 
speak of the rapidity with which this ten miles march, beginning 
at daylight, was performed. " Early in the day " is the phrase 
used by several in speaking of the time when they came upon 
the field (e. g. Hood, in Ibid, 633) ; and D. R. Jones, whose 
march was furthest to his position on the extreme right, says 
(Ibid, 636) that he arrived on the ground " about noon." Cita 
tions to this eftect might be greatly multiplied, all showing that 
the junction of Longstreet with Jackson was fairly made by ten 
o clock, and that by noon the line which was now the confede 
rate right and centre was fully established. John Esten Cooke, 
in the " Life of Stonewall Jackson," gives the precise statement 
of the facts in the case. He says : " All the morning General 


Longstreet was coming into position." Lee and Longstreet note 
specifically the positions and movements of eleven brigades of 
infantry, besides artillery, all belonging to Longstreet s corps, 
who were posted in this line, and moved in various ways to 
meet what they supposed to be the exigencies of the moment, 
ami all considerably before the hour when Pope ordered the 
grand assault of the afternoon upon Jackson s left. Pope 
(Report. 21), says he gave the order at 5.30 ; but Grover, who 
bore the most brilliant part in the attack, says (Ibid, 77) that 
he received the order at three. The confederate reports place 
this attack still earlier. Thus Jackson (Reb. Rec., ix. 578) says : 
" About two o clock, P. M., the federal infantry in large force 
advanced to the attack on our left, occupied by the division 
under General Hill;" and Ferno (Ibid, 652) says that his bri 
gade " occupied the right of our line until after the arrival of 
Longstreet, when we rejoined our division in the centre ; and at 
3.30 were ordered to advance, .and soon after engaged the 
enemy." Jackson says (Ibid, 578): "During the day, the 
commanding general arrived, and also General Longstreet with 
his command." Lee says (Ibid, 277): "After the arrival of 
Longstreet, the enemy changed his position, and began to con 
centrate opposite Jackson s left, opening a brisk artillery fire." 

These citations show that Longstreet s corps came upon the 
ground between the hours of 10 A. M. and 2 P. M. That they 
took no serious part in the action in the afternoon was owing to 
the fact that Stuart, whose cavalry was charged with the pro 
tection of Longstreet s right, reported the presence of the 
federal troops in strong force in that quarter, threatening, as he 
supposed, Longstreet s extreme right. Lee therefore sent the 
bulk of Longstreet s command there, instead of sending them 
to the direct support of Jackson. This force, which prevented 
Lee from re-inforcing Jackson in the afternoon, was that of 

But toward sun-down McDowell was ordered forward along 
the Warrenton turnpike, and had a sharp fight Avith the enemy. 
Hatch, who commanded the division, tells the story of this at 
tack : " We were met by a force consisting of three brigades of 
infantry. These were supported by a large portion of the rebel 
forces, estimated by a prisoner who was taken at their rear at 
about 30,000 men, drawn up in successive lines extending a mile 


and a half to the rear." (Pope s Rep. 177). The result was 
tint Hatch \\:is driven back. These three brigades, as will be 
seen by ex:mmiing the confederate reports of Lee, Longstreet, 
:ind Ili.od (AW,. Rec. TX, 277, 570, 631), were the two of Hood 
and the one of Evans; as well as the supporting brigades, all 
belonged to Longstreet s corps. But they were only a part of 
it, for Longstreet s line stretched southward beyond the Ma- 
nasses Railroad, out-flanking Porter. 

Thus the entire " main body" of the confederate army was 
certainly within three hours march at the very moment when 
Pope in his joint order placed them at a distance of thirty-six 
to forty-eight hours ; they were on the field when he wrote the 
peremptory order to Porter to advance to the attack ; they were 
preparing to attack Pope at the very hour when this order was 
received by Porter. (Ibid 633). Fully 40,000 strong, they 
occupied mainly the very position which Pope supposed to be 
empty, to which Porter, with 10,000 or 12,000 at most, was di 
rected to march in order to fall upon Jackson s right and rear. 
Porter s prescribed line of march would have brought him upon 
the very centre of this force, strongly posted and greatly out 
numbering him. The presence of this force, known to Porter, 
and wholly unsuspected by Pope, so changed all the conditions 
upon which the order was based, as to render its execution 
wholly impracticable ; and therefore he would not have been 
justified in executing this order even had it reached him in time 
to have made a decided movement practicable, for he must have 
known that the order was given in utter ignorance of the actual 
position of affairs. Forty thousand and more men, of whose 
presence his Commanding-General knew nothing, stood in the 
way of his executing an order, to carry out which he had but a 
quarter as many. 

The facts which I have adduced, each one of which is proven 
bv evidence which seems to be of unquestioned authority, 
seem to me to show : 

1. That in respect to the order of the 28th, Porter obeyed it 
in substance; and that in the apparent deviation from its terms, 
by commencing his march at three o clock instead of one o clock 
in the morning, he did not exceed the limits of the discretion 
vested in the commander of a corps ; and that his course was 


advised and approved by officers, than whom none in our army, 
then and since, stood higher in respect to zeal and courage. 

2. That, in respect to the joint order of the 29th, ample dis 
ci vt ion was, by the very terms of the order, given both to Por 
ter and to McDowell, to decide whether it should be carried 
out ; and that in the action under this authority both were fully 

3. That in failing to comply with the order of 4.30 o clock, 
Porter was justifiable on the ground that it would not have 
been given had his commanding officer been aware of the real 
circumstances of the^ case ; and that the attempt to execute it, 
had there been time, would have involved not merely failure, 
but the annihilation of his corps, and probably the destruction 
of the army of which it formed a part. 

4. That, therefore, the court-martial should have honorably 
acquitted Porter upon both charges, and all the specifications 
under which he was arraigned. 

Here, as far as the court-martial and its finding are concerned, 
the case properly ends. But the charges, as preferred, contained 
another specification, assuming that Porter, on the 30th of 
August : 

Having received a lawful order from his superior officer, 
Major-General John Pope, to engage the enemy s lines and to 
carry a position near their centre, and to take an annoying bat 
tery there posted, did proceed in the execution of that order 
with unnecessary slowness, and by delay gave the enemy oppor 
tunities to watch and know his movements and to prepare to 
meet his attack, and did finally so feebly fall upon the enemy s 
lines as to make little impression upon the same, and did fall 
back and draw away his forces unnecessarily, and without mak 
ing any of the great personal efforts to rally his troops or to 
keep their lines, or to inspire his troops to meet the sacrifices 
and to make the resistance demanded by the importance of his 
position, and the momentous consequences and disasters of a 
retreat at so critical a juncture of the day. {Court-Martial, 9.) 

This charge was indeed withdrawn, the Judge-Advocate de 
clining to attempt to prove it. [Though this specification was 
withdrawn by Judge- Advocate Holt, no evidence of the fact 
appears in the order promulgating the finding of the court. No 
such order was given me, nor any order other than that quoted 


by Dr. Guernsey, " to pursue the enemy in his retreat, and press 
him vigorously <lnriii<j the whole day" That enemy was known 
at the time to be strongly posted in our front, and anxiously 
wishing an attack by us. F. J. P.] And so the accused was -hut 
out from any attempt to rebut it. But it stands upon record as 
having been preferred, and General Pope brings it in substance 
in his report (p. 24), and in his testimony before the court. I 
deem it right, therefore, to touch upon the transactions of Aug 
ust 30, the last day of the series of battles known in history as 
" the second Bull Run," or " the second Manassas," or, more 
properly, "the Battles of Groveton." I shall speak of them 
only in so far as they bear upon the part taken by Porter in that 
disastrous battle. 

On the morning of the 30th, Porter, in obedience to an order 
from Pope, came upon the battle-field. At daylight, Pope had 
received intelligence which made him " feel discouraged and 
nearly hopeless of any successful issue to the operations with 
which he was charged." (Report, 23.) But soon after, he 
wrote to the General-in-Chief that he had won -a victory over the 
" combined force " of the enemy. He had just been told that 
the enemy were in full retreat, and he was going to the front to 
see. He was convinced that this was true. " McDowell and 
Heintzelman, who had reconnoitered the positions held by the 
enemy s left on the evening of the 29th, reported that these posi 
tions had been evacuated, and that there was every indication 
that he was retreating in the direction of Gainesville." (Pope s 
Rep. 22.) 

Never was there a more grave mistake. Lee, who had come 
up on the previous day, and assumed the control of all the op 
erations on the field, had merely withdrawn Jackson s ex 
treme left a little ; and during the morning had swung Long- 
street s corps around directly from, instead of towards Gaines 
ville. (Reb. Rec. ix, 636). The confederate right, which on the 
day before had run pretty nearly in a line with its left, HOAV 
formed almost a right angle with it. Its shape was that of an 
open Y reversed thus ^. Pope s entire effective force on that 
morning, as given by himself, (Report 23), was 40,000 men. 
Lee s, making allowances for losses in action and on the march, 
was fully 60,000 exclusive of cavalry. 

Pope, although, as he himself says, aware that " by twelve or 


one o clock in the day we were confronted by forces greatly su 
perior to our own, and these forces were being every moment 
largely increased by fresh arrivals of the enemy from the di 
rection of Thoroughfare Gap" (Pope s Rep. 24), resolved to at 
tack, or, as his order of twelve o clock states, to " pursue the en. 
emy," whom he knew to be advancing instead of retreating. 

" The following forces," says the order from Pope (which is 
to be found in McDowell s report), " will be immediately thrown 
forward in pursuit of the enemy, and press him vigorously du 
ring the whole day. Major-General McDowell is. assigned to 
the command of the pursuit. Major-General Porter s corps will 
push forward on the Warrenton turnpike, followed by the di 
visions of Brigadier-Generals King and Reynolds." 

Of Porter s attack Pope says : 

" It was neither vigorous nor persistent and his troops soon 
retired in considerable confusion. * * Porter s forces 
were rallied and brought to a halt as they were retiring to the 
rear. As soon as they could be used I pushed them forward to 
support our left, "and they there rendered most distinguished 
service, especially the brigade of regulars under Colonel Bu 
chanan." (Pope s Rep., 24). 

A few brief extracts from the reports of commanders of Por 
ter s corps, who took part in this action, will show the true 
character of this "feeble attack." 

General Sykes, after describing the strong and sheltered po 
sitions of the enemy, says : 

" About 4 P. M. I was ordered to support an attack to be 
made by General Butter-field. This attack was based upon 
the supposition that the enemy was in full retreat so announced 
in the orders of General Pope. Porter s army corps was to be 
the centre of operations. * Butterfield s at 

tack was gallantly made and gallantly maintained until his 
troops were torn to pieces. My first brigade, under Colonel 
R. C. Buchanan, moved to his aid, relieved him, and became 
furiously engaged. The enemy, posted in a railroad excava 
tion, was as secure as earthen embankments could make him, 
and as our troops emerged from the woods they were met by 
withering volleys that decimated their ranks. Their own fire 
was almost harmless against a sheltered foe. The enemy, seeing 
the failure, and that one weak point lay on my left, in front of 


Warren, poured on his weak command, under cover of the for 
est, a mass of infantry that enveloped, almost destroyed him. 
It became necessary to retire from the ground we occupied, 
chanan s and Chapman s brigades did go in columns of regiments, 
in line of battle under a severe artillery fire, and never wavered. 

* * The enemy continuing to outflank our left, Buchanan was 
ordered to the support of our forces engaged in that direction, 
maintained a gallant and bloody conflict with the foe until, out 
numbered and badly crippled, I directed him to retire. Chap 
man, thrown in previous to Buchanan, fighting desperately for 
three-quarters of an hour, was also ordered to retire. 

* * After my command reunited, I received orders to move 
on to Centreville, and reached there at midnight, intact and in 
excellent order." (Sykes, in Pop Js Rep., 156-148). 

I do not find any report by Butterfield of his attack ; but the 
foregoing, from Sykes, proves the gallantry with which it was 
made. Warren also speaks in similar terms. He says : 

As soon as General Butterfield s brigade advanced up the hill 
there was a great commotion among the rebel forces, and the 
whole side of the hill and edges of the woods swarmed with men 
before unseen. * * * After making a most desperate and hope 
less fight, General Butterfield s troops fell back and the enemy 
immediately formed and advanced. ( Warren, in Pope s Rep, 

Of the gallantry of Warren s brigade, it is sufficient to say 
that of his two regiments, numbering but 1,000 men, 431 were 
killed or wounded. All the foregoing belonged to Porter s 
corps. King s division was also under Porter s command, and 
was no less prominent in the attack. Hatch, who now com 
manded this division, says : 

Porter directed me to post the division on the right of his 
own troops, and to make the attack simultaneously with himself 
At the word given by General Porter, the division advanced, 
with an interval of fifty yards between the lines. The enemy 
were very strongly posted behind an old dis-used railroad em 
bankment, where, according to their own statement, they had 
been awaiting us for two days. * * * The contest for the 
possession of this embankment was most desperate. The troops 
on both sides fought with the most determined courage, and I 


doubt not the conflict at this point Was one of the most bloody 
of the whole war. 

The confederate official reports are equally direct and explicit 
as to the vigor with which this attack by Porter was made. 
Thus, General Lee says : 

About 3 P. M. the enemy, having massed his troops in front of 
General Jackson, advanced against his position in strong force. 
His front line pressed forward until engaged at close quarters by 
Jackson s troops, when its progress was checked, and a fierce 
struggle ensued. A second and third line of great strength 
moved up to support the first, but in doing so came within easy 
range of a position a little in advance of Longstreet s left. (Reb. 
Rec. ix. 277.) 

The " lines " thus mentioned were Porter s, for those were the 
only troops opposed to Jackson s right and Longstreet s left. 
Longstreet says : 

Just after reaching my first line, I received a message for re 
inforcements for General Jackson, who was said to be severely 
pressed. From an eminence near by, one portion of the enemy s 
masses attacking General Jackson were immediately within my 
view, and in easy range of batteries in that position. It gave 
me an advantage that I had not expected to have, and I made 
haste to use it. (Ibid, 571.) 

The statement that the troops which were pressing Jackson 
were within view from Longstreets left, and within range of his 
batteries, shows that they were Porter s, for his were the only 
ones in such a position. Hood (Ibid, 633), says: "The battle 
was commenced by a most vigorous attack by the enemy upon 
the right of General Jackson." ^Jackson says of this part of the 
engagement : 

About 4 o clock in the evening the federal infantry advanced 
in several lines, first engaging the right, but soon extending its 
attack to the centre and left. As one line was repulsed another 
took its place, and pressed forward as if determined, by force of 
numbers and fury of assault, to drive us from our positions. So 
impetuous and well-sustained were these onsets as to induce me 
to send to the commanding general for re-enforcements ; but the 
timely and gallant advance of General Longstreet on the right, 
relieved my troops from the pressure. As Longstreet pressed 


upon (In- riii lit, the federal advance was checked, and soon a 
general advance of my whole line was ordered. 

The vigor and persistency of an attack may, in a measure at 
least, be estimated from the loss suffered and inflicted. Porter s 
own corps numbered that morning, according to Pope, 7,000 
men. It lost in this action 2,171 men, of whom 333 are put 
down as killed, 1,323 wounded, 518 missing; but as the field 
remained in possession of the enemy, many of those returned 
merely as " missing " were undoubtedly killed. The losses in 
King s division, which also attacked under Porter, were heavy ; 
but I find no report of the numbers. 

So much for the attack by Porter, which Pope, in contradic 
tion to all who bore part in it on either side, declares to have 
been " neither vigorous nor persistent ; " and which the aban 
doned charge before the court-martial characterizes still more 
severely. No wonder that the Judge-Advocate, whom no one 
will accuse of doing his duty negligently in this trial, abandoned 
this charge. I think I have shown that on the 30th of August, 
at Groveton, Fitz John Porter s conduct was worthy of the 
general who, on the 27th of June, fought the battle of Cold 
Harbor, and on the 1st of July won, according to McClellan, 
the chief honors at Malvern Hill. 

There was much matter introduced upon the trial, which 
should not have influenced the finding of the court. It was 
apparent from the evidence that there was an unpleasant state 
of feeling between the Army of the Potomac and that of Vir 
ginia. Pope, in his general order upon assuming the command, 
had sneered at the manner in which the war had been conducted 
at the East. The Eastern officers had little confidence in Pope s 
military capacity. Porter certainly shared in this distrust ; but 
there is no evidence that this feeling was expressed in an im 
proper manner, or that it in the least interfered with his military 
conduct while under Pope s command. 

Again, it is evident that Porter was warmly attached, both 
personally and professionally, to General McClellan. But no 
one will say that this feeling was other than praiseworthy. The 
student of history, who investigates some subsequent campaigns, 
will find abundant reason to regret that other corps commanders 
had not shared in this feeling for the generals commanding. 

The Judge- Advocate, indeed, in his u Review " addressed to 


the President, dwelt at length upon what he supposed to be the 
" animus " of the accused. But, if my conclusions are well 
founded that there is no criminality, this must all be dismissed. 
Still, if any one wishes to investigate the question of criminal 
" animus," I am confident that he will be convinced, even from 
t he evidence adduced, that the accusation rests upon no tangible 
proofs, and was unworthy of being mentioned by the Judge- 

It has been no part of my purpose to inquire how and why a 
court-martial came to a conclusion which, in my judgment, is so 
wholly contrary to fact and justice. But I think I have proved 
that a great wrong has been done. And for every legal wrong- 
there is a legal remedy. It is due to the nation, as well as to 
Fit/ John Porter, that the wrong be righted as far as it can now 
be done. 

[No. III.] 

COFFINVILLE, Miss., September 23d, 1866. 
F. J. PORTER, ESQ., New York City. 

$ IR : Your letter of the 7th inst. reached me at this point a 
few days ago. I have no objections to the questions contained 
in your letter, if my answers are not to be made use of in the 
public prints, and should have no objection to that but for the 
peculiar position which I now occupy. So far as I am able to 
do so I shall answer your questions, relying upon your discretion 
in the use you may make of the matter. 

Ans. 1st. My command arrived within supporting distance of 
Jackson s command about 9 A. M., 29 August, near Groveton. 

2d. Do not remember the time at which I heard that my right 
was threatened. But remember to have moved a column to my 
right to meet such threatening force, or rather to have moved a 
column to re-inforce my right. 

3d. My command was deployed in double line, for attack, be 
tween 10 A. M. and 12 P. M., on the 29th, extending from Jack 
son s right across Turnpike and Manasses Gap R. R. Do not 
remember definitely the strength, but all of my command proper 
was up. R. H. Anderson arrived that night with three or four 
brigades, and was then assigned to my command. 

4th. My command was ready to receive any attack after 1 1 
o clock A. M, ; and we all were particularly anxious to bring on 
the battle after 12 M. ; General Lee more so than the rest. 

5th. My recollection of the ground on my right is that artillery 
could not be handled on it, and that infantry could not have 
been handled so as to make a formidable attack. 

6th. If you had attacked any time after 12 M., it seems to me 
that we surely would have destroyed your army. That is, if 
you had attacked with less than twenty-five thousand men. 

When I return to New Orleans I may be able to furnish more 
satisfactory information than I can at this distance from my 



I ;im sir, very respectfully, 

Your obedient servant, 


[No. IV.] 

NEW YORK, October 11, 1866. 
GEX. F. J. PORTER, New York. 

GENERAL : Your letter of yesterday has been received and 
read, and your quessions propounded in it will be answered fully 
and cheerfully, and with all the truth possible at this time 
more than four years after the date of the incidents referred to. 

In reply to your first question, I will state my command left 
Hopewell Gap early on the morning of the 29th of August, 
1862, and continued its march rapidly till the other portion of 
Longstreet s command was encountered marching on the road 
from Thoroughfare Gap to Gainesville. My troops halted till 
the others had passed, and then followed closely in the rear. 
The halt was for a short time, as the troops had been passing 
for some time. The time of junction of my command with the 
other portions of Longstreet s command, I gave^in my report of 
second Manasses, at 9:30 A. M. It is also stated that after ad 
vancing some three miles beyond Gainesville, my brigades were 
formed in line of battle on the left of the Pike, and at right 
angles to it, and advanced near a mile and halted, the enemy 
being in our front. Several of our batteries were in position 
on the left of the Pike firing at the enemy, and his batteries 
replying, most of the balls and shells falling short of my com 
mand, which was about 1000 yards in rear of the artillery. 

Second question. I think it was near 2 P. M. when my com 
mand halted in rear of our batteries, and this halt was made, I 
should say, one and one-half miles short of Groveton, or a little 
over this distance. Other portions of Longstreet s command 
were in my front on both sides of the Pike. I was in rear to 

Third question. In my report I stated that at 4:30 or 5 P. M., 
my brigades were moved across to the right of the Pike a mile 


or inmv t<> tin- Manages Gap railroad. Here they were fonm ! 
some inoo yanl> in rear of other troops (D. R. Jones), and to 
meet a supposed movement of the enemy on this part of the 

Fourth question. I did not move up to our front lines, and so 
had no knowledge from a close inspection of the ground in 
front, but I have been from the" Pike near Groveton on horse 
back, both to Manasses Junction and Bristoe Station, in the 
autumn of 1861, and remember the general features of the 
country, and should say it would have been very difficult, and 
attended with much delay, to have taken infantry and artillery 
over that country. 

Fifth question. As stated in answer to second question, T was 
in rear as a support, and can t be precise as to either the time 
of formation on the south side of the Pike, or as to the brigades 
that were formed on that side. The troops, I think, were two 
brigades under D. K. Jones, Evans and three other of Long- 
street s brigades, including, also, Hood s Texas brigade. 

Sixth question. I should think that by 11 A. M., had you at 
tacked the troops on the Pike, and to the right (our right) of 
the Pike, you would probably have been repulsed ; 10,000 troops 
would have been rather a light body for an attack at that 
point, for our side would have been increased certainly and rap 
idly until the rear (my command) had come up. 

With reference to the last paragraph of your letter, in which 
reference is made to evidence given by three officers on your 
trial, to the effect that none of Longstreet s forces were in your 
front, or in support of Jackson s right before sundown, I will 
state that I was the last to form on the right of the Pike, and 
that I formed at the time I stated above, and when I formed on 
the right of the Pike there was but one brigade on Longstreet s 
left Jones brigade, Hood s division. 

1 have read Dr. Guernsey s article in the World, and on such 
points as I have knowledge of, regard it as quite accurate and 
just. The strength of our brigades are over estimated, I think. 
In my three, tw r o had about sixteen hundred muskets, and the 
other about twenty-two hundred or twenty-three hundred. The 
distance from Hopewell Gap to Gainesville was, I think, more 
than five miles. Thoroughfare Gap, I should say, was also more 


than that distance. It is, however, only my opinion, formed by 
marching over the ground but once. 

The attack made on Jackson s right on the 30th was made with 
great vigor by the leading column. So much as I saw was 
crc ditable in the extreme to the attacking column. The sup 
ports to the part of your attacking column that I saw were 
broken by a close and well directed artillery fire. 

Very truly, &c., 


[No. V.] 

BALTIMORE, Mai/ 30?A, I860. 

GENERAL: I received your message, through Gen. Field 
about 1 P. M. to-day, and am sorry that you need the informa 
tion so soon, as I have to leave home at 4 P. M. to be absent a 
few days, and will not, therefore, be able to state the force < 
the confederate army at the second Manassas as accura 
might do with a little more time. ? 

The infantry of Jackson was in three divisions Jackso 
Division Ewell s, under Lawton (after 28th), and A. P. E 

Longstreet arrived on the morning of the 29th August with 
D R Jones division of three brigades, Hood with two bri- 
-ades, Evans one, Wilcox three, Kemper three. Jackson was 
reduced by hard marching and fighting before the \ 
according to the best recollection I have now, his effective info 
try on the 29th was about twenty thousand. Longstreet had, as 
you will see, twelve brigades of infantry on the 29th. 
his effective present was probably not less than thirty thousa 
as some of the brigades were pretty full. 

There were about two brigades of cavalry, and, I think, abc 
the ordinary complement of artillery to such an infantry force a 
we had ; perhaps a little less than we generally used. 

I think it safe to say our total effective present was : 
Longstreet, infantry,.. < JMJJ 


Artillery for both, 4 >^ 

Cavalry, / *f? 

The cavalry had been greatly reduced by hard servic 

we got to Manassas. 

The corps organization had not then been completed. 

D. H. Hill was en route from Richmond, as also was McLaws. 


R. H. Anderson came up early in the afternoon of the 29th, 
in time to have re-inforced Longstreet, and was held in reserve. 
He had about 7,000. 

The arrival of D. H. Hill s and McLaw s divisions after the 
battle of the 30th, both of which were large, and had seen no 
service since the battles around Richmond, about restored our 
effective strength. 

I can speak with some definiteness as to the time of Long- 
street s arrival on the 29th, though I cannot fix the exact hour. 
But I do know that his troops came into the turnpike road from 
the direction of Thoroughfare Gap, striking the turnpike near 
Gainesville. As they came up to the position occupied by 
Jackson, some of them were at first advanced to take position 
on his right, which rested near the turnpike, and which the 
federal troops appeared to be endeavoring to turn. The appear 
ance of Longstreet s column caused an immediate change in 
Gen. Pope s dispositions, and his left was drawn back, so as to 
bring his line nearly or quite at right angles to the road. Long- 
street s troops were then pushed forward as they reached the 
ground, and formed on Jackson s right, extending our line at 
right angles to and east of the turnpike. Most of Longstreet s 
troops had reached or were reaching their position, when Stuart, 
who was on our right, reported the approach of a force from the 
direction of Manassas, or rather by the road leading by our 
flank to Manassas, and by the other towards Bristoe. As soon 
as this report had been received, General Lee sent D. R. Jones 
division, not yet in line, to the right, recalled part of Longstreet s 
troops, already formed or forming on the right of the road, and 
moved them around to support Jones. The result was that the 
greater part of Longstreet s command changed front from north 
to east, and remained fronting the troops approaching from 
Manassas until some time in the afternoon (some of them until 
night). Those troops, I understood afterwards, were yours, and 
I am positive that they approached the field after Longstreet s 
arrival, and that the disposition of his troops had to be changed 
to meet them, as I have above described. I cannot give the 
hour, because I did not come from Thoroughfare Gap with the 
column. I slept the night before at a house west of the Gap, 
had a chill in the night, and was not ready to go with General 
Lee, who left about sunrise, but followed him as soon as the 


fever following the chill subsided. I passed the Gap certainly 
as early as 8 A. M., and took the road through Haymarket to 
Gainesville. The road was clear of troops, nor did I come up 
with any until I reached the turnpike, where I found some halted 
on each side of the road, those at the head of the column at that 
time moving to occupy the first position as above described. 
If I can be of any assistance to you in ascertaining the truth, 
I shall be pleased to do so. I was an eye witness of the circum 
stances that were afterwards made the ground of charges 
against you, and do but repeat the sentiment of every officer in 
our army who was present, when I say that those circumstances 
were not truly presented before the Court. 

Very respectfully, 

Your obedient servant, 


[ISTo. VI.] 

YORK, September 16, 1867. 
GENERAL IT. S. GRANT, Secretary of War. 

GENERAL : I am to-day in receipt of a copy of a report sent 
to me by order of the President of the United States, endorsed 
upon my application for a Board to re-examine the proceedings 
in my case. 

From the Report to the President I understand that you de 
sire " I should demonstrate to the satisfaction of the authorities 
my ability to controvert by new evidence the testimony on 
which I was convicted." 

I presume an outline of the testimony I propose to adduce 
before the Board to be appointed, is all that you either desire 
at my hands at this time, or your time will permit you to inves 

In this view of the case I respectfully beg leave to submit, 

Under the charge of violating the Ninth Article of War, in 
not marching at one o clock instead of three o clock on the night 
of the 27th of August, 1862, upon which I was adjudged guilty, 
I propose to show by General Patrick, Colonel H. C. Ransom _ 
a member of Pope s Staff at the time and others, that it was 
impossible to have made an effective march that night at an 
earlier hour, and that when I moved no delay attributable to 
me was had. 

Under the charge of failing on the 29th of August, 1862, 

" To push forward my forces on the enemy s flank and rear, 
etc., as well as that I did retreat from advancing forces of the 
enemy, without any attempt to engage them, or to aid the 
troops already fighting greatly superior numbers, etc.," and 
that the other portion of the army " were relying on the flank 
attack I was then ordered to make to secure a decisive victory, 

and to capture the enemy s army, a result which must have 
followed from said flank attack had it been made, etc." 

In as much as the possibility of such action by me as he de 
sired at any period within hours of the time which General 
Pope considered available, depends altogether upon the time in 
the afternoon at which the order was received by me, or the 
time when action under that order, or the discretion allowed me, 
would have been of service, I propose to show by the testimony 
of Generals Longstreet, Wilcox and others, whose letters I place 
in your hands for perusal, that at no time for hours anterior to 
the writing of General Pope s order, was there a possibility of 
my making the movement directed by him, except with the cer 
tainty of annihilation of my command ; inasmuch as by the 
testimony of these and other confederate officers, it is shown 
that the corps of Longstreet, numbering not less than 30,000 
men (my own command being less than 11,000 men) was in my 
front hours before the order of General Pope to me was even 
penned ; and, 

That the position, which was the only tenable one left to me 
under the circumstances, did accomplish all and more than the 
strict fulfillment of General Pope s order contemplated, in that 
I held (as shown by Generals Longstreet and Wilcox s letters 
before referred to) a large body of the enemy in my front that 
else would have engaged other portions of our army, already 
fully employed as has been shown. 

The reports of the Army of Northern Virginia since pub 
lished in the " Rebellion Record," volume 9 all corroborate 
the position taken by me (upon information had at that time), 
as not only correct, but, as General Longstreet now says, " Had 
you attacked me at any time after 12 M., we surely would have 
destroyed your army, if you had attacked with less than 25,000 

Making little or no reference to my official conduct during the 
years preceding the period immediately under consideration, I 
also propose to show that my subsequent conduct, and that of 
the troops under my command that is, on the 30th of August, the 
day following the one wherein it is alleged General Pope s orders 
were disobeyed was of siu-h a character as to prove, in the 
most conclusive manner, my energy and fidelity. 

I am the more anxious to do this, as the court did not deem 


the testimony at the time admissible the specification having 
been withdrawn under which I had hoped to do so. 

I shall have the testimony of Generals ButterfieldJ Sykes, and 
others in my behalf. 

I may have occasion to revert to some of the testimony taken 
before the previous court in the course of the re-investigation, 
and with the light thrown upon many matters by the close of 
the war, thus give an opportunity for those who desire to revise 
their testimony. 

Evidence more or less important 011 other points is at hand, 
but too tedious to present for your consideration at this time. I 
propose to bring it forward from time to time before the Board, 
as circumstances may require. 

I am, General, w T ith high respect, 

Your obedient servant, 



ATLANTA, GEORGIA, Sept. IGt/t, 1867. f 

GENERAL IT. S. GRANT, Washington City: 

GENERAL, As I am one of the principal parties concerned in 
the case of Fitz John Porter, and as I learn that he is in Wash 
ington City seeking a re-opening of his case, on the ground that 
he has come into possession of testimony since the close of the 
war which has an important hearing on the subject, and as I 
suppose it is not unlikely that a commission may be ordered to 
examine that testimony and report upon it, I consider it my 
duty, as well as my right, respectfully to submit to your atten 
tion, or that of any commission that may be ordered, the fol 
lowing remarks for such consideration as they merit. 

It is unnecessary to set out here in detail the charges and 
specifications on which Fitz John Porter was tried and con 
victed, but I respectfully ask to submit a few remarks upon 
them, merely to call attention to the points of the case estab 
lished by testimony and uncontroverted by the defence. The 
only answer made by the defence to the facts established is in 
the way of explanation or excuse. 

To the first charge and first specification (the disobedience of 
orders being admitted by defence), the answer is, the night was 
dark, and there was danger of delay and straggling in execut 
ing the order for the march ; but it will be noticed, and I ask 
especial attention to this fact, that no attempt was even made 
to obey the order. It was also established in the testimony on 
the subject that the whole of McDowell s and Sigel s corps 
marched nearly all night that same night on a march, but five 
or six miles north of Porter s corps, and that during the whole 
night messengers were passing between my head quarters, to 
which Porter was ordered, and his own and other corps of the 


How valid such an excuse as darkness is in the face of a pos 
itive order setting forth that the presence of his corps "was 
necessary on all accounts," I leave to your judgment; es 
pecially in the light of the fact that not even an attempt was 
made under such pressing orders and necessities to bring the 
corps forward. The whole of the circumstances on this point 
are fully set forth in the testimony. 

Although the general plea of " not guilty" was made by the 
defence to all charges and specifications, yet it was not disputed 
that the orders set forth in specifications to the charges were 
received. Neither (except in the case of the joint order to 
McDowell and Porter) is it claimed that the orders were obeyed. 
Substantially the details set forth in all the specifications ex 
cept the fourth and fifth specifications of the first charge, and 
the fourth specification of the second charge remain undisputed, 
except as to certain phrases and words and the general impres 
sion conveyed. The only defence set up was in the way of ex 
cuse, and comprises two points : 

1st. That the ground in front of Porter s corps was difficult, 
and that the road on which he w r as marching was occupied 
by the right wing of the enemy, who extended across it. 

2d. That the enemy was believed to be in heavy force, and 
that an attack would have been unsuccessful. 

To the first of these points it is only necessary to say that 
the difficulty of ground, even if it existed, is no excuse for fail 
ing to obey an order, and particularly for failing to try to obey 

The fact established in the testimony that the enemy next 
day moved over this very ground and attacked our left, is suffi 
cient answer as to difficulty of ground, should such a pretext 
be thought to have any weight. 

In relation to the force of the enemy in front of Porter, I beg 
leave respectfully to submit that that question has no bearing 
on the subject. Whether there were five thousand or fifty 
thousand of the enemy confronting Porter is a matter not at all 
affecting the question of his conduct. A general battle was 
and had for hours been raging on Porter s right, and almost in 
his sight, certainly in his hearing. He had in his command 
nearly a third of the whole Union army. His corps had been 
re-inforced by Piatt s Brigade, and numbered (juite 12,000 men. 


One of his divisions contained nearly the whole of the regular 

It was abundantly supplied with artillery, and was altogether 
the most effective corps on the field. It had marched only three 
or four miles, and was therefore by far the freshest corps in the 
entire army. Yet it did not fire a gun during the entire battle 
of the 29th of August, 1862, but lay on the ground with its 
arms stacked for seven hours of that battle without an attempt 
either to attack the enemy in front, or to come to the assistance of 
the other troops elsewhere engaged in deadly conflict, and who 
(as Porter himself says in his dispatch addressed to McDowell 
and King) he believed were being overpowered and driven from 
the field. 

In the face of a positive order to attack he did not move, and 
when convinced from the sounds of the battle on his right, that 
that portion of the army was worsted, he retired from the field, 
not towards the army which needed his help, but in the opposite 
direction, although the road was open to him, and messengers 
and orderlies were passing to and fro. These are facts estab 
lished by the testimony, and undisputed by the defence. If, in 
a general battle, a corps or a division commander, receiving a 
positive order to attack a portion of the enemy s line, has the 
right to disobey this order on the ground that he does not be 
lieve the attack would be successful, I cannot see how any com 
binations can be made by the commanding-General, or how he 
can expect that any of his orders will be obeyed. How can a 
corps commander know that the General-in-chief expects his at 
tack to be successful ? How can he know that he is not ordered 
to attack a particular point of the enemy s line, in order that 
sufficient force to resist his attack may be withdrawn from 
other points to render an assault elsewhere successful ? How 
can he know that his attack is not intended to prevent the 
enemy s troops in front of him from re-inforcing other parts of 
their line upon which an attack is being made ? The effect of 
an attack by Porter, even had he been repulsed, at any time 
from mid-day to eight o clock, on the evening of the 29th of 
August, 1862, is clearly set forth in General McDowell s testimo 
ny in this case. Had Sherman failed to attack the enemy s right 
at Chattanooga, on the ground that the enemy was in strong 
force, and he would be repulsed (as indeed, was the fact) what 


would have become of Hooker what, indeed, of the entire vic 
tory at Chattanooga ? In truth, I feel ashamed to offer any ar 
gument to military men on such a matter. They are potent, 
and as well recognized as the first principles of discipline. 

I say, then, that whether the enemy s force in front of Porter 
was great or small, it makes not the slightest excuse for his 
not obeying his orders, nor can any excuse be found, even ad 
mitting the above to be one, for an officer who not only diso 
beys an order to attack but absolutely keeps a larger effective 
force out of action anywhere during a whole day of battle in 
his presence. If he was afraid to attack in his front, why did 
he not bring his corps to the aid of the rest of the army which 
he says himself (in his despatch to McDowell and King) he be 
lieves was being worsted ? Why above all did he march away 
from instead of towards the Union Army ? 

The amount of the enemy s force in front of him, I need not 
farther say, has no bearing upon the subject, since he knew not 
for what purpose an attack was ordered; but it so happens in 
this case that testimony on that point, unimportant and irrele 
vant as it is, is at hand. I presume it will be admitted that 
the best authority as to the amount of the enemy s force in 
iront of Porter on the 29th August, 1862, is the report of the 
officer in command of the enemy confronting him on that day. 
This officer was General J. E. B. Stuart, of the rebel army. 
He is now dead, but fortunately his report is to be found in the 
volume of rebel reports of the campaign, published by the 
rebel congress. Copies of these published reports are in the 
hands of the Government, and easily accessible. 

He (General Stuart) reports that he commanded on Jackson s 
right on the 29th August, 1862, with a ridiculously small force 
of cavalry and some small guns ; that he saw a heavy force, 
which he estimated at 20,000 men, marching upon Jackson s 
flank ; that he was made very uneasy, and sent back word to 
Jackson ; that he disposed of his small cavalry force so as to 
make as great a display as possible, and made thirty or forty 
of his men cut brush and gallop up and down the Warrenton 
turnpike in his rear, so as to make a great dust, and give the 
impression that heavy forces were on that road ; that his ruse 
was successful, and that the enemy halted and then fell back. 
He further states that this force was Fitz John Porter s corps. 


I do not pretend to quote literally, but this report can easily be 
had, and the exact words ascertained. Further than this, 
Longstreet himself reports of his own corps, the strength of 
which can be easily ascertained, that he had made forced marches 
for several days before, and a very long and hard forced march 
on that day, fighting part of the time with Rickett s division. 

It is certain his corps was in little condition, when it arrived 
on the field, to contend with Porter s, which, nearly, if not quite, 
of equal strength, was perfectly fresh, and contained the best 
troops of the army. To say at this day, that Longstreet s wea 
ried and almost broken-down corps was able to overpower the 
fifth corps of our army, is the bitterest commentary upon that 
corps its worst enemy could make, and, I have no doubt, is 
utterly groundless. It would indeed be remarkable, if over 
powering forces of the enemy were all day in front of Porter, 
that he was not attacked by them as astonishing as his own 
failure to attack. 

I cite these facts as to the force of the enemy in front of Por 
ter merely as they seem to be interesting, and not because they 
have any bearing whatever upon Porter s guilt or innocence. 
That was determined upon other grounds, which no military 
man will fail to recognize. 

I beg attention, however, to what will, I think, very fully 
explain Porter s conduct. 

Despatches sent from him to Burnside, sent before and after 
he joined me, and intended, as he says himself, for McClellan, 
are to be found on the records of the court-martial. They indi 
cate a state of mind, and a hostility and bitterness, I will ven 
ture to say, unparalleled under such circumstances. They 
present the grossest and most outrageous violation of discipline 
and military propriety, to say nothing of ordinary good man 
ners, which can be found on any official record in this country. 
That a subordinate officer, in face of the enemy, without 
knowledge of the number or disposition either of the enemy s 
forces or our own, and in the midst of a deadly conflict, upon 
which the very existence of the government and the lives of 
thousands of patriotic men were at stake, could write such dis 
patches almost surpasses belief. As I said, it indicates a state 
of mind capable of anything, and these dispatches themselves 


furnish the completes! explanation of Porter s conduct which 
can ever be given. 

I take it for granted, as the general facts set forth in the 
specification of the charges against Porter were and are com 
pletely proved | that the testimony he now brings forward upon 
which to base a re-opening of his case, is simply testimony as 
to the amount of the enemy s force in front of him on the 29th 
August, 1862. 

I respectfully submit that such testimony, even if strictly true, 
has no bearing upon the findings and sentence of the court- 
martial in his case, and furnishes no reason whatever for re 
opening the case. 

I am, General, 

very respectfully, 

Your obedient servant, 

JBvt-Maj-Gen., U. S. A. 

[No. VIII.] 

NEW YORK, October IGth, 1867. 

To His Excellency, ANDBEW JOHNSON, 

President of the United States. 

S IR :_ I have been permitted to read a communication from 
Major-General John Pope to General Grant, Secretary of War, 
in which the former asserts himself to be " one of the principal 
parties concerned " in my case, and considers it his duty, as well 
as his right, to enter his protest against the appeal for a re-ex 
amination of the proceedings which Senators Wilson, Sherman, 
Harris and Foster, Governor Curtin, General Banks, Hon. Hor 
ace Greeley and other distinguished citizens, have in my behalf 
asked at your hands. 

In my application to you for a re-examination of the charges 
against me, I supposed I had avoided every expression which 
could offer embarassment to any gentleman connected with the 
prosecution who felt disposed to revise testimony given by 
him on the trial, by the light of newly discovered evidence. In 
what I have done to vindicate my good name everything has 
been open and in the light of day. I have not endeavored to 
create public opinion or control it. I have not asked for con 
gressional or any other final action in advance of facts ascer 
tained under the forms and sanction of military judicature. I 
have not asked for the appointment of an inferior commission, 
but have urged the selection of a Board of Officers so high in 
rank and in public esteem, that its decision would everywhere 
carry conviction of the soundness thereof. You are aware that 
so careful have I been to exclude all possibility of partisan 
prejudice or political emotion, that I suggested that my appli 
cation be referred to General Grant for report and action there 
under. Against this disposition of my case Major General Pope 
alone protests. He has no willingness to avail himself of * he 


opportunity offered to assist in the proposed inquiry for the as 
certainment of truth, but rises up as an accuser in a case in 
which, at one time, he only claimed to be an unwilling wit 

Distinguished Senators and upright citizens, familiar with the 
whole field of military operations during the late war, represent 
to the President that evidence unattainable at the former trial, 
pertinent to the issues involved, and now within easy access, is 
sufficient to warrant the appointment of a commission " to ex 
amine this evidence and ascertain whether injustice has not been 
done ?" but Major-General Pope protests against being again 
required to submit his statements and allegations to such a test. 
Will your Excellency permit me to so far trespass upon your 
time as to place on record a few suggestions in answer to the 
volunteered oommunication of Major-General Pope, which, while 
they serve to show the errors amid which that officer still wan 
ders, may perchance indicate to you the importance of the 
newly discovered evidence now accessible ? 

The main points contained in General Pope s communication 
may be summed up as follows : 

1st. That no attempt was made to execute the order of 6.30 
P. M., of August 27th, 1862, to march at one o clock at night, 


Answer. I shall show by recorded testimony, to which I pro 
pose to materially add, that I attempted and did execute the 
order as far as practicable, the only modification being a change 
in the hour of march from one to three o clock. This change 
was induced by the remonstrance of officers next to me in 
command, whose judgment, skill, and bravery can never justly 
be called in question. They urged that literal compliance was 
impossible, and would, if attempted, render my corps wholly- 
unlit for the additional service specified for that morning ; my 
troops then being without food, wearied by long, forced, and 
unceasing marches. It was also urged and agreed that even at 
three o clock, when the troops did move, no substantial progress 
could be made till increasing light permitted. 

2nd. That it is established in testimony that both McDowell 
and Sigel s corps marched nearly all that night (August 27th), 
a few miles north of my corps. 

, In the spirit in which this allegation is presented by 


General Pope, he is in error, for I shall establish by new testi 
mony that 

The turnpike over which these corps were directed to march 
that night was of a much better character than the country road 
my command was to traverse, and that 

During the short time these corps were marching, the same 
difficulties were experienced as by my troops, and that no sub 
stantial gain or progress was made in the darkness ; and also 

Officers, some of them members of General Pope s staff, leav 
ing my camp at midnight for Bristoe Station (my destination), 
were forced from the road by obstructions, and lost their way 
in the darkness, though conducted by an experienced guide, and 
did not reach General Pope till 8 A. M., on the 28th. 

3d. " That it is not disputed General Pope s orders were re 

Answer. It is disputed that General Pope s orders were, in 
any case, received within a reasonable period after they pur 
ported to have been issued. It can be shown that all of General 
Pope s orders were delayed in the delivery ; and it is proved 
by the testimony of General Sykes, Colonel Locke, Captains 
Montieth, Weld and others, that the order of 4.30 P. M. on 
29th August, was not received by me till too late to execute. 

4th. That the enemy did, on the 30th August, " pass over the 
ground claimed by me as impassable, and attack the left of our 

Anstcer. The facts are that, "although the enemy did, on the 
day succeeding that in question, i. e., on the 30th of August, 
succeed in pushing some troops over a portion of the ground 
regarded impassable, in the immediate presence of an opposing 
force, still they were employed from early in the morning to 2 
o clock P. M., in doing that which even General Pope s own 
version allowed me less than three hours to accomplish ; and 
there is the additional fact that no force of ours then opposed 
the enemy, whereas on the preceding day I was expected to 
traverse the same ground in much less time, overwhelmingly 
opposed : 

That no artillery was taken by the enemy through or over 
that ground, and 

That ? as I shall prove by General Longstreet and others, the 


ground, by reason of its broken character, dense woods, &c., 
was not only impracticable for the handling of artillery, but 
also for the successful handling of infantry in any large body. 

In a word, the testimony of Generals Reynolds and Morell, 
Colonel E. G. Marshall and others, as adduced heretofore, is 
completely established. 

5th. " That a general battle was and had been raging on my 
right, and almost in my sight certainly in my hearing for 
hours ; and that I had nearly a third of the whole Union Army 
under my command at that time, &c." 

" That my troops did not fire a gun during the entire battle." 

" That I did not attempt to assist troops elsewhere, though I 
had written Generals McDowell and King, I believed our 
forces were being overpowered and driven from the field, and 

" That I believed the enemy s force in front of me was very 
heavy, and that therefore an attack would be unsuccessful." 

Answer. I shall show that no general battle was in progress 
between noon and 5.30 P. M. that day (August 29th), and in 
addition to the testimony heretofore adduced, I will show by 
General Pope s ofticial report, that between these hours no more 
than " heavy skirmishing" was had ; 

That so far from being within sight or sound of any heavy 
firing between these hours, the woods were so dense and the 
ground was of such a nature, that no sound of a general or any 
engagement, other than artillery firing at long range, reached 
me or my command ; 

That my troops, while but little engaged in action that day, 
held a position of the highest importance ; for, as stated herein 
after, they were so disposed as to draw from before General 
Pope, and to keep the whole of Longstreet s larger forces in 
front of me, thereby securing all the good effects of a battle 
without its injuries. 

I shall substantiate the evidence that I was held in my posi 
tion by McDowell s orders, which, being reiterated, caused the 
recall of a division of my corps moving to attack, and that it 
was not judicious, nor admissable upon information in my pos 
session, furnished from time to time by General McDowell and 
others, to at any time go to the assistance of General Pope ; the 
belief, based on rumor, expressed in my note to Generals Me- 


Dowell and King, having been, as shown in the evidence, 

I shall substantiate the record that General McDowell was in 
command and present with me at the only time on the 29th 
August, before 6 P. M., when the sounds of battle (artillery 
only) were audible ; that my command mainly was there, and 
remained during the whole day substantially in contact with 
the enemy ; that General Pope s order to General McDowell 
and myself was issued on the erroneous supposition that " the 
whole force of the enemy would not arrive till to-morrow (the 
30th) or next day ; " that from prisoners then in my possession, 
belonging to Longstreet s corps, and from General Buford s 
letter to General Ricketts, shown to me by General McDowell, 
in connection with other information possessed by General Mc 
Dowell, it was evident that we were then (twelve o clock noon 
on the 29th) confronted by Longstreet s forces, and that the 
object of our combined movement had been frustrated ; that, 
acting on this belief and on General Pope s instruction that 
" the troops must occupy a position from which they can reach 
Bull Run that night," General McDowell, exercising a discre 
tion authorized in the order, directed me to remain on that 
ground, and did himself turn back and march away beyond 
support of me, with the divisions of King and Ricketts (over 
half our joint forces), to a point close to Bull Run, which he was 
several hours in reaching ; and that, by thus withdrawing, he 
prevented all possibility of severing the connection of Long- 
street with Jackson, which was the object of our combined 

T will also prove by what General Pope considers competent 
authority General Longstreet himself that I was correct both 
as to the greatly superior force in my front, and as to the pro 
bable effect of an attack by me. 

I shall prove that Longstreet desired an attack, and consid 
ered it would have resulted, after McDowell s withdrawal, ad 
vantageously to himself, and as suggested that evening by me 
to General Pope, in serious disaster to my corps ; and that the 
position taken by me, not only saved my corps, but in the most 
effective manner served the purposes of General Pope, by hold 
ing in check a force largely superior to may own, and drawing 
supports from the troops opposing General Pope. 


6th. " That when convinced from the sounds of the battle on 
the right, that our army was being worsted, I marched away 
from giving assistance, and went in an opposite direction al 
though ; the road was open, and orderlies, <fcc., passing to and 

Answer. As I have said above, the opinion expressed in my 
note to Generals McDowell and King, proved incorrect, and 
was not acted upon, nor was it designed to be acted upon, as is 
shown in the note itself, till " I communicated with them." 

I have shown, and will bring additional testimony to show, 
that at no time did I march away from giving assistance, or 
give any order tending to do so ; but all day and all night of 
the 29th, till called away on the 30th by General Pope s orders, 
the largest portion of my command remained where General 
McDowell left it, and directed it to be, which was in almost im 
mediate contact with the enemy, while the remainder was pro 
perly held, during the same time, massed in rear in support, 
prepared to go, if called or necessary, to General Pope s assist 
ance, taking, as it. was then, and had been all day, on the only 
practicable route, the same road taken by General McDowell and 
his troops, and by my command the following morning. It is 
true that General McDowell, in the exercise of his discretion, 
did march away with his command on the afternoon of the 29th 
August, whilst my troops did not march away till the next 
morning, having alone confronted and held the enemy till that 
time, and most fortunately, as I shall show by competent testi 
mony, for our other forces. 

I shall also show, on this point, that the orderlies passing 
back and forth, were mainly my messengers carrying informa 
tion to and in vain seeking instructions from Generals McDowell 
and Pope, and that so far from bringing information that as 
sistance was needed by General Pope, the reverse was the fact. 

1th. " That the effect of an attack by me at any time between 
noon and eight o clock of the evening of the 28th of August, 
even though repulsed, would have been most beneficial, and 
General McDowell s testimony before my court is referred to as 
endorsing this view of the case " arid quoted to sustain General 
Pope s claim that "my withholding an attack between the 
hours of twelve and eight prevented the capture or destruction 
of Jackson on the 29th August." 


Answer. General Pope apparently forgets that General ^Mc 
Dowell expressed this as a " mere opinion," which is not " ev 
idence," and that it was based upon the erroneous opinion that 
Jackson s forces alone confronted our army between these hours, 
and to the exclusion of official reports from his general officers, 
which should all have been, as some were, in his possession. 

It is hardly necessary to state, in the light of facts now read 
ily ascertainable, and, at the time, deemed unnecessary, adverse 
opinions from the best military sources can and will be given, 
completely nullifying this opinion of General McDowell, if still 
retained by him, showing at that time no such opinion was en 
tertained by those who, having been in contact with the enemy, 
enjoyed far better opportunities of possessing correct informa 
tion than either General McDowell or General Pope. It is true 
that General Pope telegraphed the War Department, and elec 
trified the country by the information that " the enemy was re 
treating to the mountains ;" but that assertion unhappily proved 
untrue, and, as is known, was based upon a total misconception 
of the enemy s forces and position. 

Sth. That even though the question of a largely supeno 
force confronting me, were admissable, it is (General Pope 
claims) shown by the commanding-General of the enemy (J. * 
B. Stuart, in his official report) to have been very small- 
he disposed of his small force trailed brushes to cause dust 
and thus convey the idea of numbers, and that my corps halt, 
and fell back." 

Answer. I am, perhaps, saved the necessity of imputing 1 
General Pope a want of veracity in this respect, inasmuch as he 
claims to quote General Stuart s report from memory. 

Between his memory of the report, and the report itself, the 
difference will be best shown by reference to it, by which it will 

be seen, . 

That Longstreet s forces were on the field before my an 
That " the prolongation of my line of march would have 
passed through Stuart s position," a very fine one for art i 
lery," and " struck Longstreet in flank." 

That he awaited my approach long enough to ascertain some 
thing of my strength, dragging brush, etc., to attempt to deceive 
me notifying the commanding-General, "then opposite me on 
the turnpike," that " Lonastreefs flank and rear were seriously 


threatened, and of the importance of the ridge I held ;" that 
immediately the brigades of Jenkins, Kemper, and D. K. Jones 
Avere sent, together with artillery, placed in position, and waited 
my advance, and, 

That after exchanging a few shots with rifled pieces, this 
corps (mine) withdrew towards Manassas, "leaving artillery 
and supports to hold the position till night." 

In explanation of this last paragraph, I shall show by the 
recorded testimony and confirmatory evidence, that it refers to 
the division of Morell, sent forward by me after General Mc 
Dowell retired from that ground, and recalled to its former 
position under General McDowell s reiterated order, before any 
exchange of artillery shots. This division was then posted on 
its original ground (as Morell has testified) in a manner to 
invite attack, and was there held till daybreak the following 

In addition to the force at that time sent to General Stuart, a 
division was, later in the day, withdrawn from the support of 
Jackson and placed in my front, on the extreme right of Long- 
street s forces, "in case," says General Longstreet s official 
report, " of an attack against my right." 

Thus it is proven by the enemy themselves that my action 
and the position retained by my corps drew from General 
Jackson s support a large force. 

9tk. " That Lonstreet himself reports that his corps had made 
large and forced marches, and also, on the day in question 
(August 29th), had made a forced march and fought Ricketts 
division, and that my troops were fresh, and nearly or quite 
equal in numbers to Longstreet ; " and 

" That, if Longstreet s corps had so great a numerical superi 
ority, it is remarkable he did not attack me." 

Answer. A reference to General Longstreet s Report (volume 
9, Rebellion Record, p. 570) shows the inaccuracy of this state 
ment of General Pope. Not one word is written by General 
Longstreet as to his troops having made long and forced 
marches ; and all references by Longstreet, Hood, and D. R. 
Jones (a small part only of the latter s division having engaged 
Risketts) to the encounter with Ricketts division, show that it 
was only "a spirited little engagement" (loss of twenty-five 
men), "heavy demonstrations and skirmishing" on Ricketts 


side ; and this all occurred <m the 28th of August, some twenty 
hours prior to the events referred to. 

Gem-nil Longstreet s failure to attack my inferior forces has 
no pertinency, save to indicate that my troops were so disposed 
as to deceive him as to my real strength and purpose, arid thus 
relieve General Pope from combatting an enemy already too 
great either in number or skill for him to successfully attack. 

It will be proved, however, that the desire of General Long- 
street was to invite attack, and that, had I fallen into this error, 
his position and strength were such, whatever the condition of 
his troops, that my command would probably have been de 

10#A. " That I did not even try to pass over the ground be 
tween me and the enemy on the 29th August, which I claimed 
as impassable, and also occupied by the right wing of the 

Answer. I shall show that the movement to pass over that 
ground was thwarted by General McDowell s orders to me, and 
most fortunately it was so ; and, also, 

That even an effort to communicate by messengers failed, 
from the nature of the country and the occupation of it by the 

Finally, General Pope assumes to explain the cause of what 
he terms my conduct in the matter, contained in the charges 
brought before the court. 

In attempting this he but rehearses what was termed the 
" animus" of my alleged conduct, by the prosecution on the 

A few words in explanation of these dispatches, which seem 
to have highly incensed General Pope, may suffice for the 
present. They were confidential (though partly official) com 
munications to General Burnside, whose tenure near Aquia 
Creek was dependant upon correct information of our move 
ments and of those of the enemy. Made at his request, they 
became official by the anxious call of the President for just 
such information as I was giving of the Army, communication 
with which had been cut off, except by the channel I had, at 
great trouble, and in fear of disaster, established and main 
tained till eventually called, August 29th, by General Pope to 
Centreville. This point was nearer and on the direct road tq 


Alexandria, through which General Burnside would necessarily 
the soonest hear of us, and I so informed him. 

They were not designed, as asserted by General Pope, for 
General McClellan, of whose position and relations to the army 
I knew nothing. In the haste of dispatch they were carelessly 
expressed. If they manifested confidence in General Mc 
Clellan, and a distrust of General Pope s ability to conduct the 
campaign (as claimed by the prosecution), they but expressed 
the opinion pervading our Eastern armies. 

Each dispatch covered one of General Pope s orders, and was 
designed to convey a correct impression of affairs, and to undo 
the effect of false reports. Should I be blamed if they show- 
as is now . apparent that General Pope at least misconceived 
the situation, and that I was better acquainted than he is 
willing to admit he was, with the position and movements 
of the contending forces and the wants of the army, and 
that forseeing the inevitable results of that campaign, I should 
have tried to provide against its disaster ? Would I not have 
been justly held culpable had I, knowing the truth, foiled to 
have expressed it, even without the call of the President, 
through General Burnside and pointed out, as I did, the mode 
of guarding against the effects of misfortunes already brought 
upon us and others to come ? Because I indicated the inevitable 
results of this campaign, General Pope unjustly claims I de 
sired and worked for them. 

I have, however, to state that the President, in person, thanked 
me for my despatches, as furnishing the only reliable informa 
tion received at that time from the army, and as leading to the 
happiest results. 

I believed, at the time of the trial, as I do now, that, if at the 
time and in the manner I desired, all my despatches had been 
permitted in evidence as well as the occasion of sending them, 
connected with the desire of the President to have just such in 
formation, this element so delicate at all times to righteously 
use probing and deciding upon, as it assumed to do, the secret 
thoughts and purposes of the human mind that this element, 
my " animus," so potentially used against me, would have been 
completely foiled of its purpose, and this, too, without adducing 
n my behalf, as under such proceedings I should have had the 


right to do, :in untarnished record both prior and subsequent to 
the unfortunate campaign of General Pope. 

General Pope comments upon the duty of subordinate offi 
cers towards a General commanding; asks what confidence 
such an officer could have if his subordinates were at liberty to 
judge of his purposes or plans,*and does not see how any com 
binations of his could be expected to result successfully except 
through implicit obedience. 

These, and kindred expressions are interpolated in General 
Pope s communication. I shall not assume that propositions of 
the nature of truisms of no pertinency to the occasion, evi 
dently pressed into service for a palpable purpose, need refer 
ence at your hands, or that of military men. 

I do propose, if permitted to do so, to demonstrate by compe 
tent military authority, that in their opinion, but for the action 
and disposition of my corps during this eventful day of General 
Pope s campaign, not only would my own corps have been need 
lessly sacrificed, but his entire army put in such a plight as to 
be of no avail in the defence of the Capitol itself, which must 
then have been, in a great degree, left unguarded. 

Although such demonstration is not necessary to my vindica 
tion as against General Pope s charges, it may awaken sugges 
tions, the advantage of which I may at least partially claim. 

In general terms throughout his letter, General Pope ignores 
the testimony given in my behalf of such officers as Generals 
Sykes, Heintzleman, Butterfield, J. F. Reynolds, Morell, Griffin, 
Kuggles, Locke, Weld, and others, whose -career before and 
since my trial would warrant I presume it is not too much to 

sa y as much of credence as either the testimony or the opinion 

of General Pope is entitled to. 

The witnesses on either side, having been more or less in the 
public service, have each a record that time or circumstances 
have established. I propose to add to the the list of those here 
tofore adduced by me, others of like prominence, equal integrity, 
bravery, and unimpeachability. 

Should the commission I ask for be granted, General Pope 
will have an opportunity to add whatever of testimony he 
desires, both as to kind and amount. 

I am aware of the tax a communication so lengthened ne 
cessarily so imposes upon you. 


May I urge upon you to give me the opportunity I ask of 
vindication at the hands of the Government to which I have 
given my best years and of doing so promptly while actors and 
witnesses are yet in life. 

I am sir, 

With high respect, 

Your obedient servant, 


[No. IX.] 

The following documents, in addition to some of the pre 
ceding are in possession of the Department. 

NEW YORK, January 14, 1807. 

To His Excellency, ANDREW JOHNSOX, President of the United 

SIR : I beg leave to respectfully represent, that by Court Mar 
tial convened in Washington City in 1862, I was sentenced "to 
be cashiered, and forever rendered incapable of holding office 
under the Government of the United States," and that, in ad 
dition to all the penalties attached to so severe a sentence, per 
sistent efforts have been made to fix those arising from the un 
charged crime of treason. 

Seventeen years of my life have been spent in the army of 
the United States years covering the active events of the Mex 
ican war, and including the opening and most trying years of the 
Rebellion. Intrusted at all times with duties of the greatest re 
sponsibilities, frequently performed at the peril of life, I can assert, 
without fear of denial, that up to the period of the presenta 
tion of the charges, no breath of suspicion had attached itself 
to a reputation which it had been, and still is, my life s study to 
preserve unsullied. I feel assured your Excellency will appre 
ciate the motive that induces me to frankly say that, at no time 
from the presentation of the charges to the completion of the 
trial, did it occur to me that such a record as my country had 
generously permitted me to make, could I by any court be 
judged guilty of willfully neglecting the interests of that coun 
try in its hour of peril, and to whose reputation, history, and wel 
fare I was bound by every sentiment of patriotism, gratitude, 
and interest. 

Conscious of innocence, feeling that, whatever differences of 
opinion might arise upon other points, there would not and 
could not be any as to my faithfulness of purpose, I could not 


bring my mind to contemplate any other verdict than that of a 
speedy and honorable acquital. 

It is possible I may have committed an error, both as to the 
Court and myself in thus assuming much that should have 
been set forth. I also feel assured that your Excellency will ap 
preciate the motive that induces me to make reference to the 
events of my life while in my country s service. The vindica 
tion of my honor alone compels me to do so in this paper, as in 
a previous one read to the Court. 

The verdict against me was found January, 1863, at a time 
of most unusual excitement. The country was environed with 
perils ; distrust had seized upon many minds ; errors of great 
magnitude had occurred ; the press and forum vied with each 
other in responding to a great and growing sentiment that an 
example should be had by which faithlessness or incompetency 
should be promptly dealt with. May I not now say with truth 
that it was my misfortune to be charged and tried at this to 
me most inopportune of periods ? 

I believe it is safe to say that much of the evidence adduced 
against me upon the trial would, in the light of the present full 
information upon the vital, and at the time necessarily disputed 
points, be either entirely changed or materially modified. Evi 
dence of the most important character to me, at that time totally 
inaccessible to either the Court or myself, is now to be readily 
obtained, and in a form and under circumstances brought togeth 
er that admit of no dispute. Competent and disinterested per 
sons, including many of those who deemed my trial and con 
demnation just, now concur in the completeness of the vindi 
cation which this "unconscious testimony" has given me. 

Relying on the justice of my government, feeling assured 
that with the return of peace calm feelings would prevail, and 
knowing that from the very nature of the case and the sur 
roundings, time would, however slowly to my impatient honor, 
prove the best arbiter, I have borne in silence and without com 
plaint the burden of that sentence. 

I have taken the liberty of enclosing herewith certain docu 
ments from able and intelligent writers, which bear upon my 

* SWINTON S Army of the Potomac, GREKLEY S American Conflict, an article bv Mr. A. 
H. GUERNSEY, Editor Pictorial History of the Rebellion. 



It is useless to say more than that they bear unsolicited con 
firmation so far as they go ; and I believe the time is at hand 
when it is my duty to appeal to my government for a revision 
of my case, however nearly such a revision comes home to me 
and all I hold most sacred in my life. 

It is a duty that I owe also to the honored officers who bore 
testimony in my behalf, to my brave command, whose history 
has been imperishably written, and to my country, that no stain 
of injustice shall be recorded against her. 

My appeal is to your Excellency to appoint a court for the 
purpose of reconsidering the proceedings in my case, composed, 
as I trust it may be, of the best talent and most approved patri 
otism in the army. 

I have every reason to believe that, with such a court 
instituted, and with the full testimony now to be obtained, I 
can obtain the full and honorable acquittal I know I deserve; 
and which I shall ever seek at the hands of my country. 

With high respect, I am your obedient servant, 


The subjoined letters are filed with this appeal : 

NATICK, Nov. 26, 1866. 
To President Johnson : 

SIB, I have been informed that new evidence has been dis 
covered touching the case of Fitz John Porter, late a Major- 
General in the volunteer forces of the United States, 
fully join with others in recommending the appointment of 
commission, to consist of officers of acknowledged capacity and 
character, to examine the evidence and ascertain whether injus 
tice has been clone this officer or not, who, up to the time of 
the alleged offence, maintained the character of an c 
courage and ability. 

Your obedient servant, 



I think, with General Wilson, that a careful review, by a 
competent military commission, of the proceedings of the case 
of General Porter is an act of justice, and which, in trials before 
civil courts, is always granted as a matter of right. I trust his 
request will be granted. 


I cheerfully unite with General Wilson in the within recom 

(Signed) IRA HARRIS. 

Senate Chamber, Jan. 16, 1867. 

I concur. 


I cheerfully concur in the opinions above expressed. 

(Signed) L. F. S. FOSTER. 

Jan. 17, 1867. 

I concur, most cordially, in the recommendations of Senators 
Wilson, Sherman, Harris, and Foster, and express unreservedly 
my belief that a re-examination of this case is due to General 
Porter and the Government. 

(Signed) N. P. BANKS. 

House of Representatives, Jan. 17, 1867. 

Major-General Fitz John Porter was the first military officer 
sent by the Government to Harrisburg, at the beginning of the 
rebellion, and of the many who succeeded him, none of them 
were more zealous, faithful, and useful. I gave him my full 
confidence, and, from the high opinion I then formed of him, 
was surprised when his loyalty was doubted. Believing that 
subsequent events and evidence, not produced at his trial, fully 
justify a new trial, I very cordially and earnestly unite with 
Senator Wilson and other distinguished gentlemen* who concur 
with him in the within paper, in asking for General Porter the 
appointment of a new commission to hear his case, that justice 
may be done. 


Jan. 17, 1867. 


To the President of the United States. 

" Your memorialists respectfully represent that by a court- 
martial convened at Washington, Major-General Fitz John 
Porter was sentenced to be cashiered, and rendered forever 
incapable of service under the government of the United 

That such a sentence is to a gallant officer, in some respects 
worse than a sentence of death, inasmuch as it makes him the 
living and conspicuous victim of a terrible penalty. 

That a few weeks before the terrible events which drew upon 
General Porter this severe sentence, he received the highest re 
ward which the President can bestow, for skill and gallantry 
in one of the most important actions of the war. 

Your memorialists are advised, that following the impulses 
of a controlling love of justice, your Excellency has, on many 
occasions during the war, reconsidered and revoked the sen 
tences of court-martials in cases far less grave than the present, 
patiently employing your time, notwithstanding the urgent de 
mands upon it, in sifting and weighing the evidence and listening 
to the explanations and defence of the accused. 

And your memorialists in consideration of the extreme se 
verity of the sentence in the case of Major-General Fitz John 
Porter, and of his previous high reputation, honorably earned 
on fields of peril and death, respectfully solicit you to recon 
sider the proceedings of the court-martial by which he was con 

This course, they beg leave to suggest, must, in whatever 
event, be satisfactory to your Excellency. Should the result be 
adverse to General Porter, it will strengthen you in the convic 
tion that the original sentence was just. If favorable to the 
General, it will, your memorialists are confident, afford your 
generous nature the highest gratification which it is capable of 


BOSTON, August, 1863. 


BOSTON, September 21, 1867. 

GENERAL: At a meeting of the officers of the first division, 
5th corps, called together to give an expression of sympathy at 
the death of our loved commander, General Griffin, the enclosed 
petition was presented and signed by all the officers present. 

The duty of forwarding the document to you was entrusted 
to me, and in so doing I would say that I express the sentiments 
of most of those who served under General Porter in saying 
thot they most earnestly desire that his request for a new trial 
be granted. 

It was my fortune to be in command of a regiment in Gener 
al Porter s corps, during that unfortuuate campaign which ended 
in the battle of Bull Run, and having personal knowledge of 
many of the circumstances connected with his career, I have 
always felt that he was most unjustly dealt with. 

Very respectfully yours, 

Late of 32nd Massachusetts Volunteers. 

BOSTON, September 17, 1867. 

The undersigned, who have served as officers of the fifth corps 
under General Fitz John Porter, respectfully, but urgently, 
request that the proceedings in his case may be revised, in ac 
cordance with the application which, they learn from the public 
press, he has addressed to the department. 

Wm. S. Tilton, lately brevet brigadier general, United States 


A. P. Martin, late brevet colonel United States volunteers. 
George M. Barnard, Jr., late brevet colonel eighteenth Massa 
chusetts volunteers. 

John W. Mahan, late major, ninth Massachusetts volunteers. 
Aaron F. Walcott, late first lieutenant battery C, Massachu 
setts volunteers. 

Francis J. Parker, colonel thirty-second Massachusetts in 

Geo. A. Batchelder, brevet lieutenant colonel twenty-second 
Massachusetts volunteers. 


Mich. Scanlan, captain ninth Massachusetts volunteers. 

P. T. Hanley, late lieutenant colonel ninth Massachusetts vol 

John M. Tobin, captain ninth Massachusetts volunteers. 

James F. Moore, lieutenant second Maine volunteers. 

Walter S. Davis, brevet lieutenant colonel twenty-second 
Massachusetts volunteers. 

Louis N. Tucker, brevet major eighteenth Massachusetts vol 

Marcus M. Davis, captain twenty-second Massachusetts vol 

Thos. Sherwin, Jr., brevet brigadier general, late twenty- 
second Massachusetts volunteers. 

L. Stephenson, Jr., brevet brigadier general, late thirty-second 
Massachusetts volunteers. 

J. Gushing Edwards, brevet brigadier general, late thirty- 
second Massachusetts volunteers. 

Chas. K. Cobb, first lieutenant and adjutant, late thirty- 
second Massachusetts volunteers. 

Edward O. Shepard, brevet lieutenant colonel, late thirty- 
second Massachusetts volunteers. 

Chris. Plunkett, late captain ninth Massachusetts volunteers. 

Wm. M. Strachan, lieutenant and adjutant ninth Massachu 
setts volunteers. 

Wm. M. Strachan, late captain ninth Massachusetts volun 

Chas. W. Thompson, first lieutenant thirty-ninth Massachusetts 
volunteers, formerly twelfth Massachusetts volunteers. 

John F. Doherty, late captain ninth Massachusetts infantry. 

P. E. Murphy, late first lieutenant ninth Massachusetts vol 

Wm. H. Gerty, late captain thirty-second Massachusetts vol 

B. F. Finan, late first lieutenant ninth Massachusetts infantry. 

C. C. Bumpus, captain thirty-second Massachusetts volunteers, 

company B. 

General IT. S. GRANT. 


HARTFORD, CONNECTICUT, September 21, 1867. 

MY DEAR GRANT, Fit/ John Porter writes to me to ask that 
I will do something to aid him in getting a rehearing of his case. 
All that I can do is to write you, and give you the reasons why 
I think it will be an act of justice to give him the opportunity to 
clear himself from the terrible imputation now resting upon him. 

I saw Porter in Pope s company the day after the latter s 
defeat at Bull Run, and afterwards, until we arrived in front of 
AVashington. I know that they were on very cordial terms, 
and that Pope on some occasions advised with him confiden 
tially. I talked a good deal myself with Pope, and I think that 
if he had had at that time any feeling that Porter had acted 
badly, I would have learned it then ; but I had no suspicion that 
he felt aggrieved at anything Porter or any one who was then 
near him had done. At Fairfax Court House, the day that we 
arrived at Washington, I noticed that Pope was particularly in 
good spirits and cordial with Porter. I have therefore always 
thought that the attack upon Porter was the result of an after 
thought, and that the charges were not original with Pope. 

During the trial, I thought it proper to inform Porter that 
Generals J. F. Reynolds, George H. Thomas, and myself would, 
if requested, go before the court and swear that we would not 
believe Pope or Roberts under oath. I had consulted General 
Reynolds before I made the proposition. He consented to go 
himself, and thought General Thomas would have no hesitation 
in giving such evidence. I was myself well convinced of Gen 
eral Thomas s opinion of Pope s veracity, from what I had often 
heard him say before the war. Porter declined to call us up to 
give this evidence, on the ground that the court appeared so 
well disposed towards him, and his case was going on so well, 
that he did not wish to irritate the court by an attempt to break 
down the evidence of the principal prosecutors. The sequel 
showed that he made a serious mistake. 

But I think that the most equitable reason for a review of 
Porter s case is this : The Judge- Advocate-General, Holt, was 
the judge-advocate of the court. That was right enough. But 
no one will deny that a judge-advocate of a military court, when 
a prisoner is defended by able counsel, becomes to a great extent 
a prosecutor, and as such necessarily is biased against the pri 
soner. To say that General Holt was prejudiced against Porter 
is merely to say that he is like other men, and that he was so 


prejudiced the whole proceeding shows. Whether it is better 
or worse for the course of justice that the judge-advocate should 
be prejudiced has nothing to do with the question. 

But an abstract of the proceedings and finding and sentence 
of the court had to be made by the J udge-Advocate-General for 
presentation to the President of the United States, upon which 
(for he necessarily could not read the evidence) he was to make 
up his mind as to the guilt or innocence of the accused. Was 
it right, proper, or decent that this abstract should be made up 
by the very man who had done his best to convict the prisoner ? 
Did not such a proceeding prevent the President from learning 
any extenuating circumstance, or finding out anything weak in 
the evidence, if any such there were ? Did c , not, in fact, take 
away any chance from Porter which he might have had, had a 
cool, unbiased person of legal knowledge made this abstract, 
instead of General Holt. 

The whole business seems to me like a prosecuting attorney 
passing sentence upon a prisoner in a civil court, immediately 
alter the speeches of counsel. I think the fact that Mr. Lincoln 
had only general Holt s abstract to guide him, in making up 
an opinion on the proceedings of that court, is enough to in 
validate the whole thing. 

It has been said, and perhaps with truth, that there is no pre 
cedent to guide in this matter. It may be said with equal truth 
that never, since the trial of Admiral Byng, was injustice so 
without precedent done. I think that there never was a more ap 
propriate opportunity for going beyond precedent, and establish 
ing the fact that, no matter how or by whom flagrant injustice is 
done, you, when the power is in your hands, will see the right done. 

For my part, I know that Porter was as loyal as the most 
loyal soldier now dead, and that no thought of treason or disaf 
fection entered his brain. He was a victim to Pope failure in 
Virginia, and it seems to me he has remained a victim long 
enough. You will, in my opinion, do an act which will not be 
the least among those which will make up your fame, if you will 
lend your weight towards giving Porter the opportunity to 
retrieve his character as a citizen and soldier. 

I am truly your friend, 


General U. S. GRANT, 

Commanding Army of the United States. 



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