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[94] inquired for Colonel Porter. I directed him to the Colonel's quarters, and he rode on, saying we were to charge at a given signal,— the firing of a gun from a battery in our rear. The gun was fired before he had reached the Colonel. I ordered my battalion over the works, and we formed in line in front. Standing upon the parapet I looked anxiously to the left for about a minute, when I saw Colonel Porter suddenly appear upon the top of the breastwork, near the extreme left of the regiment, and immediately after the men climbing over the work. For an instant they halted and closed ranks; then as the Colonel, a few yards in advance, waved his sword, the whole line went forward at double-quick into that terrible fire, which cost the regiment, in killed and wounded, over six hundred men and twenty-three officers, including its noble and beloved commander.

Colonel Porter fell, at the head of his column, within a few rods of the enemy's rifle-pits. He was wounded in the neck. He rose once to his feet and again to his knees, rallying his men, till, pierced by six bullets, he sank to rise no more. The last words he uttered were, ‘Dress upon the colors!’ For several days he had had a strong presentiment of his approaching death. In a letter received by his family long after the battle, but written three days before, he had said, ‘I try to think and act and feel as if each day were to be my last, so as not to go unprepared to God. We must hope and pray and believe He will preserve us. But His will be done. It is selfish to wish to be saved at the expense of others.’

His body lay two days under the guns of the enemy, whose works, by one of the sad chances of civil war, were commanded by his own cousin, John C. Breckenridge, doubly related to him by blood and marriage. It was recovered on the night of the second day by the steadiness and good conduct of five men of his regiment,— Sergeant Le Roy Williams, Privates Galen S. Hicks, John Duff, Walter Harwood, and Samuel Travis. When Mr. Cozzens, in reading his memorial of Colonel Porter to the Century Club in New York City, narrated this fine act of affection,—how on a rainy night the men had crawled as near the enemy's works as they dared go together, then how one had dragged himself up to the body,

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Peter B. Porter (4)
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