Monday, December 8, 2014

Military Monday: Testimony at Trial of Gen. Fitz John Porter

New Orleans Item (New Orleans, LA)
July 17, 1878


During the trial of Gen. Fitz John Porter at West Point, Thursday, Mr. John S. Leachman, of Groveton, Prince William county, was recalled and closely examined as to the supposed route of Capt. Pope bearing the 4:30 order from Gen. Pope to Gen. Porter, commanding the latter to move against the enemy.  It was charged in the proceedings of the court martial that the order reached Porter at five o'clock p.m.  The latter stoutly avers that it did not get into his hands till between six and seven p.m.

The testimony of Mr. Leachman, who had been a resident in the locality for fifty years, shows that it was a physical impossibility for Capt. Pope to go over the rout.e  Witness supposed he did go in less than an hour and a half, which would make his arrival at Porter's headquarters not before 6 p. m. providing the order was handed to him at the precise time it was dated, and he rode at the utmost speed.

Col. Charles Marshall, a lawyer of Baltimore, and who was an aide-de-camp for Gen. Lee, of the Confederate army, in 1862, was sworn.  He said that twelve Confederate brigades marched through Thoroughfare Gap on the 28th, and one on the morning of the 29th.  About half-past nine the advance was near Groveton.  Then witness located the position of the Confederate troops, and said that as late as two p. m. Gen. Stewart reported that Gen. Jones' right was being threatened, and Gen. Wilcox was ordered to go to his supper.  Later in the afternoon, Hood was attached, and Wilcox was sent back.  The troops threatening Jones appeared to be coming along the Manassas and Gainesville road, and six brigades had to be kept there to watch them.

This was considered important evidence for Porter, as it was his command that threatened the Confederates, and thus it is claimed he acted discreetly, and held the Confederates in check, preventing them from carrying out an intended general attack that day.

Witness stated that he had in his hand Lee's original report of the second Bull Run battle.  He said Gen. Lee did not make an attach on the 29th for the reason that Longstreet advised against it.  This witness also denied previously that there was a general battle on the 29th, as indicated in Pope's dispatch.  There was some artillery firing, and Hood had a severe fight, but it did not become general.

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