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Book details
  • Genre:HISTORY
  • SubGenre:United States / Civil War Period
  • Language:English
  • Pages:100
  • eBook ISBN:9781937721008

Porter's Secret

Fitz John Porter's Monument Decoded

by Wayne Soini

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West Point star cadet and Mexican War hero Fitz John Porter fought back when court martialed for cowardice under fire during the Civil War at the Second Battle of Bull Run. General Porter's ultimate exoneration and reinstatement has never stopped historians from continuing to argue over his guilt or innocence. A complex monument designed by noted sculptor James Kelly and General Porter, just before he died, stands today in his birthplace, Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Through clues hidden in plain sight, it reveals what Porter was thinking and why he did not charge against General Lee's finest during Second Bull Run. FULLY ILLUSTRATED WITH PHOTOS BY N.H. PHOTOGRAPHER DOUG KERR AND DOCUMENTS FROM THE LIBRARY OF CONGRESS, INCLUDING AMERICA'S FIRST AERIAL MILITARY RECONNAISSANCE SKETCH, MADE BY GENERAL PORTER FROM A BALLOON OVER YORKTOWN IN 1862.
FITZ JOHN PORTER was an intrepid aerial spy, a West Point graduate who fought bravely in the Mexican War, and the commander of the hundred guns at Malvern Hill that blasted General Robert E. Lee’s hopes of overwhelming General George B. McClellan’s Army of the Potomac in July, 1862. In late August, 1862 Lee took his revenge at the Second Battle of Bull Run. When Porter disobeyed orders on August 29, 1862 to throw his 10,000-man Fifth Corps against 25,000 well-entrenched Confederates, he was court-martialed. Thrown out of the Army in a sentence signed by President Lincoln, Porter thereafter fought for his vindication. In 1879, a Presidential commission of the Army’s top generals, after hearing over a hundred witnesses, Union and Confederate, realized with shock that Porter was a military and a moral hero who had fought “the good fight.” Soon after the board’s report, a contrite General U.S. Grant, who during the war would have had Porter shot, wrote a public apology. By an act of Congress signed by President Grover Cleveland, Porter was exonerated and reinstated to the Army. Near the end of his life, Porter, who died in 1901, worked with sculptor James E. Kelly to create a monument. The Fitz John Porter monument in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, illuminates a mystery of American history. Through clues “hidden in plain sight” near the general’s birthplace, Porter showed what he was thinking at Second Bull Run when he “failed” his commander to save an Army.
About the author
Wayne Soini has been interested in the Civil War since its centennial, when he was twelve years old. A 2009 graduate of the University of Massachusetts Boston’s master’s degree program in history, during which the author’s draft thesis was on the topic presented here in a popular format, Soini tries to read one history book a week. This is his third book.