Campaigning with Grant

Campaigning with Grant

Campaigning with Grant

Campaigning with Grant


In 1863 Horace Porter, then a captain, met Ulysses S. Grant as Grant commenced the campaign that would break the Confederate siege at Chattanooga. After a brief stint in Washington, Porter rejoined Grant, who was now in command of all Union forces, and served with him as a staff aide until the end of the war. Porter was at Appomattox as a brevet brigadier general, and this work, written from notes taken in the field, is his eyewitness account of the great struggle between Lee and Grant that led to the defeat of the Confederacy.

As a close-up observer of Grant in the field, Porter was also able to draw a finely detailed, fully realized portrait of this American military hero -- his daily acts, his personal traits and habits, and the motives that inspired him in important crises -- rendered in the language that Grant used at the time. Porter intended to bring readers into such intimate contact with the Union commander that they could know him as well as those who served by his side. He acquits himself admirably in this undertaking, giving us a moving human document and a remarkable perspective on a crucial chapter of American history.


Brooks D. Simpson

Horace Porter was born in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania, on 15 April 1837, the seventh child of merchant, state legislator, and future governor David Porter and his wife, Josephine. As a young man he became interested in attending the U.S. Military Academy at West Point; although initially thwarted in seeking an appointment, he was able to enroll in 1855 as one of the few cadets to experience the academy's short-lived attempt at implementing a five-year training program. Among his West Point associates was James H. Wilson, while Emory Upton, Orville Babcock, and George A. Custer stood just behind in the next class.

Graduating third in his class of forty-one in 1860, Porter was assigned to the ordnance branch. The following year the Civil War commenced, and Porter served in Virginia and South Carolina, participating in the capture of Fort Pulaski outside Savannah, Georgia. The following July, in the aftermath of the Seven Days Battles, he found himself appointed to Gen. George B. McClellan's staff. He did not last long there; in September he learned he was going to serve as chief of ordnance in the Department of the Ohio, but by year's end, he was shifted again to serve on the staff of Gen. William S. Rosecrans's Army of the Cumberland.

Impressive as Porter's service proved at Chickamauga-- he constructed a stopgap defense that stemmed a Confederate assault, an act for which he later received the Medal of Honor--it proved but a prelude to the assignment for which he would always be remembered (and wanted to be remembered): that of aide-de-camp to Ulysses S. Grant.

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