Sunday, January 27, 2013

Tuesday, January 27, 1863

The President approves & confirms the finding and sentences of the Court martial in the case of Fitz-John Porter, Major General of Volunteers.  He is cashiered & dismissed from Service of the United States.  Gen. Butler, who has been for several months in New Orleans, is now at the North having been relieved by Gen Banks.  Butler is an emancipationist.

Peggy's comments:
Colonel Fitz-John Porter was courtmartialed due to his failure to follow orders in the Second Battle of Bull Run (Manassas).  Difficulties in communication often contributed to misunderstandings in command, however Fitz-John Porter disobeyed a direct order from General Pope to move his troops.  Among other reasons, Porter claimed it was too dark, the troops were too tired, and he was sure there were too many opposing troops.  This from the National Park Service.  Porter spent the next twenty years attempting to clear his name.  

Rufus Dawes, Julia's nephew, made a long, impassioned speech in the House of Representatives in March 5, 1883, objecting to a bill introduced for the relief of FitzJohn Porter.  Here is his concluding paragraph:
I have spoken not for General Pope.  History must attend to his case; it is not here for trial.  I have no concern as to the plots or machinations of General Irvin McDowell.  I know nothing of his personal schemes, plans, or purposes in that campaign.  I have spoken only as a soldier in the line of an army that obeyed cheerfully, toiled faithfully, and asked only to be led to battle to place their lives freely in peril for their cause and for their country.  I respect General Porter for his valor on other fields, but for his failure on this field I condemn him.  I hold, indeed, the general condition of jealousy, intrigue, and disaffection more responsible than Porter personally.  That he is the one victim in no sense abates the justice of the decree against him.  I remember that Benedict Arnold could not be restrained from leading the line in face of flaming death over the intrenchments of Saratoga and winning the finest victory of the Revolution.  But in a moment of chagrin and disappointment he cast away every jewel of honor, faith, and patriotism, and history brands him with eternal condemnation.  I draw no comparisons, and would make no harsh judgments; but the cold calculation of General Porter, to put it mildly, so contrasts with the earnest, unselfish enthusiasm of the friends and comrades of my young manhood who died in battle at Bull Run, the second, that I dedicate this protest against Senate bill 1844, for the relief of Fitz-John Porter, to their memory.

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