This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
 rise; but the impartiality which it is our earnest desire to preserve in commenting upon the events of that day, compels us to say a few words on the subject of the accusations directed against that officer We shall pass over in silence the charges of incapacity, cowardice and treason. These are belied by Porter's whole career, who, both as a soldier and a chieftain, had been tried on more than one battle-field, and whose devotion to the cause he served cannot be called into question. We shall only speak of those which rest upon facts or definite specifications. After his defeat, General Pope censured his lieutenant for not having prevented the junction of Jackson and Longstreet, by placing himself between them on the Gainesville and Groveton road. He asserted that this manoeuvre was practicable, and that it would have assured the defeat of the Confederates. It was in consequence of this accusation that Porter was tried and condemned. At a later period, when the facts became more fully known, and the official reports of the Confederate generals were given to the public, it was shown that the junction of the two Confederate corps was effected long before Porter could have reached the point which had been indicated to him. From that moment the principal charges brought against him by the publication of General Pope have been modified and restricted. Pope has blamed him for not having left the Gainesville road, which had been designated to him in his first instructions, to move to the right in the direction of Groveton, and attack the extremity of Longstreet's line; and the junction of the latter with Jackson, conceded to have been accomplished at the outset of the battle, is no longer in question. Thus far the censure is well founded, although it must be acknowledged that, in order to execute such a movement, Porter would have been obliged to change the direction he had been ordered to follow in his formal instructions. It is evident that Porter, when he found himself unable to follow this direction, instead of remaining inactive, should have endeavored to find the enemy, and, notwithstanding the fatigue of his troops, should not have waited for new instructions to take part in the battle, the sound of which reached him on his right. But this kind of censure might have been applied with equal force to many of the generals of both parties during the war, without subjecting them to any other penalty beyond the blame of their chiefs; and the contradictory orders that Pope's lieutenants had been receiving for some days may, to a certain extent, plead in excuse of Porter's fatal hesitation. General Pope has weakened the effect of this second charge by his immoderate course, and by presenting the facts in a
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.