Sunday, November 2, 2008

Gen. Fitz-John Porter

This officer, whose trial by Court Martial closed a few days ago has been found guilty on all the charges and specifications, and dismissed from the service. These Charges were in brief, as follows:

1. “Disobeying, on the 28th of Aug. an order of Gen. Pope, thin his superior officer, directing him to bring his corps to help Hooker and others in what is now known as the second battle of Bull Run.

2. Disobeying another order of Gen. Pope on the day following, directing him to make certain movements.

3. Totally disobeying very important orders as to the movements of his corps while the battle was in progress on the said 29th day of August.

4. Disregarding a peremptory order from Gen. Pope to bring his command into action and to report in person on the field.

5. Permitting certain of his brigades, in defiance of positive orders, to march back to Centerville, thus greatly delaying the arrival of Pratt’s Brigade on the field of battle of the 30th August.

6. When peremptorily ordered into battle he “did there shamefully disobey, and did retreat from the advancing forces of the enemy, without any attempt to engage them, or aid the troops who were already fighting greatly superior numbers, and were relying on the flank attack he was thus ordered to make to secure a decisive victory, and to capture the enemy’s army, as a result which must have followed from said flank attack, had it been made by said Gen. Porter in compliance with the said order which he so shamefully disobeyed.”

7. In that, “being with his army corps on Friday, the 29th of August, between Manassas Station and the field of battle then pending, and within the sound of the guns, and in presence of the enemy, and knowing that a severe action of great consequence was being fought, and that the aid of his corps was greatly needed, did fail in that day to bring it on the field, and did shamefully fall back and retreat from the advance of the enemy, without any attempt to give them battle, and without knowing the forces from which he shamefully retreated.”

8. That “being in the belief that the troops of Gen. Pope were sustaining defeat and retiring from the field, did shamefully retreat, and fall back with his army to the Manassas Junction, and leave to the disaster of a presumed defeat the said army, and did fail by any attempt to attack the enemy to aid in averting the misfortunes of a disaster that would have endangered the safety of the capital of the country.”

These charges were submitted to a Court Martial composed of Maj. Gen. Hunter, President; Maj. Gen. Hitchcock; Brig. Gens. Rufus King, Prentiss, Ricketts, Casey, Garfield, Buford, and Morris, the Hon. Joseph Holt, Judge Advocate General, acting as Judge Advocate. Gen. Porter was defended by the Hon. Reverdy Johnson and Charles Eames, Esq., with such eminent ability as to make the defenses especially notable, and it led to the opinion that he would be acquitted. The hearing was long and patient, and the largest latitude was allowed to the accused consistent with the rules of war. The record of the trial, made up by Judge Holt, was laid before the President, was by him approved, and the sentence ordered to be forthwith executed. The findings of the Court were that Gen. Porter was guilty of every one of the charges, and the sentence was “Dismissed from the service.” {Dubuque Times.

– Published in The Union Sentinel, Osceola, Iowa, Saturday, January 18, 1863

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