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See more details at Online Price Match. Befriending his superior, Porter began a relationship which would ultimately prove devastating for his career. In the spring of , Porter moved south to the Peninsula with his division. Lee assumed command of Confederate forces in the area. Recognizing that his army could not win a protracted siege at Richmond, Lee began making plans to attack Union forces with the goal of driving them back from the city.
Assessing McClellan's position, he found that Porter's corps was isolated north of the Chickahominy River near Mechanicsville. Seeing an opportunity, Lee intended to attack while the bulk of McClellan's men were below the Chickahominy. Though his men inflicted a bloody defeat on the Confederates, Porter received orders from a nervous McClellan to fall back to Gaines' Mill. Attacked the next day, V Corps mounted a stubborn defense until being overwhelmed in the Battle of Gaines' Mill. Crossing the Chickahominy, Porter's corps joined the army's withdrawal back towards the York River.
During the retreat, Porter selected Malvern Hill, near the river, as site for the army to make a stand. In recognition of his strong performance during the campaign, Porter was promoted to major general on July 4. Shortly thereafter, Porter received orders to bring his corps north to reinforce Pope's command. Disliking the arrogant Pope, he openly complained about this assignment and criticized his new superior.
The Spectacular Rise and Fall of Fitz John Porter
Obeying, he halted when his men encountered Confederate cavalry along their line of march. A further series of contradictory orders from Pope further muddled the situation. Having received intelligence that Confederates led by Major General James Longstreet were on his front, Porter elected not to move forward with the planned attack.
Though alerted to Longstreet's approach that night, Pope misinterpreted the meaning of his arrival and again ordered Porter to launch an assault against Jackson the next morning. Reluctantly complying, V Corps moved forward around noon. Though they broke through the Confederate lines, intense counterattacks forced them back. As Porter's assault was failing, Longstreet opened a massive attack against V Corps' left flank.
The Spectacular Rise and Fall of Fitz John Porter - The New York Times
Shattering Porter's lines, the Confederate effort rolled up Pope's army and drove it from the field. In the wake of the defeat, Pope accused Porter of insubordination and relieved him of his command on September 5.
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Quickly restored to his post by McClellan who assumed overall command following Pope's defeat, Porter led V Corps north as Union troops moved to block Lee's invasion of Maryland. Present at the Battle of Antietam on September 17, Porter's corps remained in reserve as McClellan was concerned about Confederate reinforcements. Though V Corps could have played a decisive role at key points in the battle, Porter's admonition to the cautious McClellan of "Remember, General, I command the last reserve of the last Army of the Republic" ensured that it remained idle.
During this time, Pope, who had been exiled to Minnesota, maintained an ongoing correspondence with his political allies in which he scapegoated Porter for the defeat at Second Manassas. On November 5, Lincoln removed McClellan from command which resulted in a loss of political protection for Porter. Stripped of this cover, he was arrested on November 25 and charge with disobeying a lawful order and misbehavior in front of the enemy.
In a politically-driven court-martial, Porter's connections to the relieved McClellan were exploited and he was found guilty of both charges on January 10, Dismissed from the Union Army eleven days later, Porter immediately commenced efforts to clear his name. Despite Porter's work, his attempts to secure a new hearing were repeatedly blocked by Secretary of War Edwin Stanton and officers who spoke in his support were punished. Following the war, Porter sought and received aid from both Lee and Longstreet as well as later garnered support from Ulysses S.
Grant , William T. Sherman , and George H.
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