Fitz John Porter

Fitz John Porter (August 31, 1822 – May 21, 1901) (sometimes written FitzJohn Porter or Fitz-John Porter) was a career United States Army officer and a Union general during the American Civil War. He is most known for his performance at the Second Battle of Bull Run and his subsequent court martial.

Although Porter served well in the early battles of the Civil War, his military career was ruined by the controversial trial, which was called by his political rivals. After the war, he worked for almost 25 years to restore his tarnished reputation and was finally restored to the army's roll.

Fitz John Porter
Fitz John Porter
Porter in 1862
BornAugust 31, 1822
Portsmouth, New Hampshire
DiedMay 21, 1901 (aged 78)
Morristown, New Jersey
AllegianceUnited States of America
Service/branchUnited States Army
Union Army
Years of service1845–1863 or 1886[1]
RankUnion Army major general rank insignia.svg Major general
Commands heldV Corps, Army of the Potomac
Battles/warsMexican–American War

Utah War
American Civil War

Other workPublic works commissioner, police commissioner, and fire commissioner (NYC)

Early life and education

Porter was born on August 31, 1822 in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, the son of Captain John Porter and Eliza Chauncy Clark. He came from a family prominent in American naval service; his cousins were William D. Porter, David Dixon Porter, and David G. Farragut. Porter's father was an alcoholic who had been reassigned to land duty. Porter's childhood was chaotic because of his father's illness.[2] The younger Porter pursued an army career. He graduated from Phillips Exeter Academy,[3] then from the United States Military Academy (West Point) in 1845, standing eighth out of 41 cadets, and was brevetted a second lieutenant in the 4th U.S. Artillery.[4]


Porter was promoted to second lieutenant on June 18, 1846 and First Lieutenant on May 29, 1847. He served in the Mexican–American War and was appointed a brevet captain on September 8, 1847, for bravery at the Battle of Molino del Rey. He was wounded at Chapultepec on September 13, for which he also received a brevet promotion to major.[4] He was an original member of the Aztec Club of 1847, a military society composed of officers who served during the Mexican War.

After the war with Mexico ended, Porter returned to West Point and became a cavalry and artillery instructor from 1849 to 1853. He served as adjutant to the academy's superintendent until 1855. He next was posted to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, as assistant adjutant general in the Department of the West in 1856; he was brevetted to captain at Fort Leavenworth that June. Porter served under future Confederate Albert Sidney Johnston in the expedition against the Mormons in 1857 and 1858. Afterward, Porter inspected and reorganized the defenses of Charleston Harbor, South Carolina, until late 1860, when he aided the evacuation of military personnel from Texas after that state seceded from the Union.[5]

American Civil War

Porter (seated in chair) and staff

After the start of the Civil War, Porter became chief of staff and assistant adjutant general for the Department of Pennsylvania, but he was soon promoted to colonel of the 15th Infantry on May 14, 1861. General John A. Logan, Porter's later political nemesis, would accuse Porter of helping persuade his commander Robert Patterson to let Joseph E. Johnston's force escape out of the Shenandoah Valley and reinforce P. G. T. Beauregard, thus turning the tide at the First Battle of Bull Run.[6] In August, Porter was promoted to brigadier general of volunteers, backdated to May 17[4] so he would be senior enough to receive divisional command in the Army of the Potomac, newly formed under Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan. Soon Porter became a trusted adviser and loyal friend to McClellan, but his association with the soon-to-be-controversial commanding general would prove to be disastrous for Porter's military career.

Porter led his division at the beginning of the Peninsula Campaign, seeing action at the Siege of Yorktown. McClellan created two provisional corps and Porter was assigned to command the V Corps. During the Seven Days Battles, and particularly at the Battle of Gaines' Mill, he displayed a talent for defensive fighting.[7] At the Battle of Malvern Hill, Porter also played a leading role. For his successful performance on the peninsula, he was promoted to major general of volunteers on July 4, 1862.[4]

Second Bull Run

Second Bull Run Aug29 1200
August 29, noon; Longstreet's Corps arrives; Porter's Corps stops and does not engage

Porter's corps was sent to reinforce Maj. Gen. John Pope in the Northern Virginia Campaign, a reassignment that he openly challenged and complained about, criticizing Pope personally. During the Second Battle of Bull Run, on August 29, 1862, he was ordered to attack the flank and rear of Maj. Gen. Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson's wing of the Army of Northern Virginia. Porter had stopped at Dawkin's Branch, where he had encountered Maj. Gen. J.E.B. Stuart's cavalry screen. On August 29 he received a message from Pope directing him to attack the Confederate right (which Pope assumed to be Jackson on Stony Ridge), but at the same time to maintain contact with the neighboring division under Maj. Gen. John F. Reynolds, a conflict in orders that could not be resolved. Pope was apparently unaware that Confederate Maj. Gen. James Longstreet's wing of the army had arrived on the battlefield; the proposed envelopment of Jackson's position would have collided suicidally with Longstreet's large force. Porter chose not to make the attack because of the intelligence he had received that Longstreet was to his immediate front.

Second Bull Run Aug30 1500
August 30, 3:00; Porter turns and attacks, Longstreet in position to attack and "rolls up" Pope's army

On August 30 Pope again ordered the flank attack, and Porter reluctantly complied. As the V Corps turned to head towards Jackson's right and attacked, it presented its own (and consequently the entire army's) flank to Longstreet's waiting men. About 30,000 Confederates assailed Porter's 5,000 or so men, driving through them and into the rest of Pope's forces, doing exactly what Porter most feared would come of these orders. Pope was infuriated by the defeat, accused Porter of insubordination, and relieved him of his command on September 5.[8]

Porter was soon restored to command of the corps by McClellan and led it through the Maryland Campaign, where the corps served in a reserve position during the Battle of Antietam. He is said to have told McClellan, "Remember, General, I command the last reserve of the last Army of the Republic."[9] McClellan took his implied advice and failed to commit his reserves into a battle that might have been won if he had used his forces aggressively.

Court martial

On November 25, 1862, Porter was arrested and court-martialed for his actions at Second Bull Run. By this time, McClellan had been relieved by President Abraham Lincoln and could not provide political cover for his protégé. Porter's association with the disgraced McClellan and his open criticism of Pope were significant reasons for his conviction at court-martial. Porter was found guilty on January 10, 1863, of disobedience and misconduct, and he was dismissed from the Army on January 21, 1863. [10]

In describing the Battle of Second Manassas, Edward Porter Alexander wrote that Confederates who knew Porter respected him greatly and considered his dismissal "one of the best fruits of their victory".[11]

Later life and death

After the war ended, Porter was offered a command in the Egyptian Army but declined it.[8] He spent most of the remainder of his public life fighting against the perceived injustice of his court-martial.

In 1878, a special commission under General John Schofield exonerated Porter by finding that his reluctance to attack Longstreet probably saved Pope's Army of Virginia from an even greater defeat. Eight years later, President Grover Cleveland commuted Porter's sentence and a special act of the U.S. Congress restored Porter's commission as an infantry colonel in the U.S. Army, backdated to May 14, 1861, but without any back pay due. Two days later, August 7, 1886, Porter, seeing vindication, voluntarily retired from the Army.

Porter was involved in mining, construction, and commerce. He was appointed as the New York City Commissioner of Public Works, the New York City Police Commissioner, and the New York City Fire Commissioner. He died in Morristown, New Jersey, and is buried in Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn, New York.[4] His grave can be found in Section 54, Lot 5685/89.

On December 27, 1894, Porter, along with 18 others, founded the Military and Naval Order of the United States, which was soon renamed the Military Order of Foreign Wars. Porter's name was at the top of the list of signers of the original institution and received the first insignia issued by the Order.


See also


  1. ^ Eicher & Eicher, p. 435. Court-martialed 1863, restored and resigned in 1886 to rank from 1861
  2. ^ Wayne Soini (2011). Porter's Secret: Fitz John Porter's Monument Decoded. Portsmouth, NH: Peter E. Randall Publisher. pp. 9–11. ISBN 978-0-9828236-8-2.
  3. ^ "Fitz John Porter • Obituary Notice (Association of Graduates USMA, 1901)". Retrieved 2017-12-02.
  4. ^ a b c d e Eicher & Eicher, p. 435.
  5. ^ Dupuy, p. 607.
  6. ^ John A. Logan (1886). The Great Conspiracy: Its Origin and History. New York, NY: A. R. Hart & Co. Chapter XIII.
  7. ^ Dupuy, p. 608: "he was a skilled defensive commander who possessed a fine eye for terrain ..."
  8. ^ a b Dupuy, p. 608.
  9. ^ Sears, p. 291; McPherson, pp. 543–44.
  10. ^ John H.Eicher and David J. Eicher. Civil War High Commands (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2001), p. 435.
  11. ^ Edward Porter Alexander, Military Memoirs of a Confederate (New York: Charles Scribner & Sons, 1907), p. 208.


Further reading

  • Eisenschiml, Otto, The Celebrated Case of Fitz John Porter: An American Dreyfus Affair, Indianapolis, IN: Bobbs-Merrill, 1950.
  • Hennessy, John J. Return to Bull Run: The Campaign and Battle of Second Manassas. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1993. ISBN 0-8061-3187-X.
  • Soini, Wayne. Porter's Secret: Fitz John Porter's Monument Decoded. Portsmouth, New Hampshire: Jetty House an imprint of Peter E. Randall Publisher, 2011. ISBN 978-0-9828236-8-2.
  • Paleno, Gene. "The Porter Conspiracy, A story of the Civil War", PAL Publishing, Upper Lake CA (ISBN 978-0-9894847-4-9)

External links

Preceded by
Nathaniel P. Banks
Commander of the Fifth Army Corps
May 18, 1862 - November 10, 1862
Succeeded by
Joseph Hooker
Army of Virginia

The Army of Virginia was organized as a major unit of the Union Army and operated briefly and unsuccessfully in 1862 in the American Civil War. It should not be confused with its principal opponent, the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia, commanded by Robert E. Lee.

Army of the Potomac

The Army of the Potomac was the principal Union Army in the Eastern Theater of the American Civil War. It was created in July 1861 shortly after the First Battle of Bull Run and was disbanded in May 1865 following the surrender of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia in April.

Battle of Antietam

The Battle of Antietam , also known as the Battle of Sharpsburg, particularly in the Southern United States, was a battle of the American Civil War, fought on September 17, 1862, between Confederate General Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia and Union General George B. McClellan's Army of the Potomac, near Sharpsburg, Maryland and Antietam Creek. Part of the Maryland Campaign, it was the first field army–level engagement in the Eastern Theater of the American Civil War to take place on Union soil. It was the bloodiest day in United States history, with a combined tally of 22,717 dead, wounded, or missing.After pursuing the Confederate general Robert E. Lee into Maryland, Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan of the Union Army launched attacks against Lee's army, in defensive positions behind Antietam Creek. At dawn on September 17, Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker's corps mounted a powerful assault on Lee's left flank. Attacks and counterattacks swept across Miller's Cornfield, and fighting swirled around the Dunker Church. Union assaults against the Sunken Road eventually pierced the Confederate center, but the Federal advantage was not followed up. In the afternoon, Union Maj. Gen. Ambrose Burnside's corps entered the action, capturing a stone bridge over Antietam Creek and advancing against the Confederate right. At a crucial moment, Confederate Maj. Gen. A. P. Hill's division arrived from Harpers Ferry and launched a surprise counterattack, driving back Burnside and ending the battle. Although outnumbered two-to-one, Lee committed his entire force, while McClellan sent in less than three-quarters of his army, enabling Lee to fight the Federals to a standstill. During the night, both armies consolidated their lines. In spite of crippling casualties, Lee continued to skirmish with McClellan throughout September 18, while removing his battered army south of the Potomac River.Despite having superiority of numbers, McClellan's attacks failed to achieve force concentration, which allowed Lee to counter by shifting forces and moving along interior lines to meet each challenge. Therefore, despite ample reserve forces that could have been deployed to exploit localized successes, McClellan failed to destroy Lee's army. McClellan's persistent but erroneous belief that he was outnumbered contributed to his cautiousness throughout the campaign.

McClellan had halted Lee's invasion of Maryland, but Lee was able to withdraw his army back to Virginia without interference from the cautious McClellan. McClellan's refusal to pursue Lee's army led to his removal from command by President Abraham Lincoln in November. Although the battle was tactically inconclusive, the Confederate troops had withdrawn first from the battlefield, and abandoned their invasion, making it a Union strategic victory. It was a sufficiently significant victory to give Lincoln the confidence to announce his Emancipation Proclamation, which discouraged the British and French governments from pursuing any potential plans to recognize the Confederacy.

Battle of Hanover Court House

The Battle of Hanover Court House, also known as the Battle of Slash Church, took place on May 27, 1862, in Hanover County, Virginia, as part of the Peninsula Campaign of the American Civil War.

On May 27, elements of Brig. Gen. Fitz John Porter's V Corps extended north to protect the right flank of Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan's Union Army of the Potomac. Porter's objective was to deal with a Confederate force near Hanover Court House, which threatened the avenue of approach for Union reinforcements that were marching south from Fredericksburg. The smaller Confederate force, under Colonel Lawrence O'Bryan Branch, was defeated at Peake's Crossing after a disorganized fight. The Union victory was moot, however, for the Union reinforcements were recalled to Fredericksburg upon word of Maj. Gen. Nathaniel P. Banks's rout in the Shenandoah Valley at First Winchester.

Battle of Malvern Hill

The Battle of Malvern Hill, also known as the Battle of Poindexter's Farm, was fought on July 1, 1862, between the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia, led by Gen. Robert E. Lee, and the Union Army of the Potomac under Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan. It was the final battle of the Seven Days Battles during the American Civil War, taking place on a 130-foot (40 m) elevation of land known as Malvern Hill, near the Confederate capital of Richmond, Virginia and just one mile (1.6 km) from the James River. Including inactive reserves, more than fifty thousand soldiers from each side took part, using more than two hundred pieces of artillery and three warships.

The Seven Days Battles were the climax of the Peninsula Campaign, during which McClellan's Army of the Potomac sailed around the Confederate lines, landed at the tip of the Virginia Peninsula, southeast of Richmond, and struck inland towards the Confederate capital. Confederate commander-in-chief Joseph E. Johnston fended off McClellan's repeated attempts to take the city, slowing Union progress on the peninsula to a crawl. When Johnston was wounded, Lee took command and launched a series of counterattacks, collectively called the Seven Days Battles. These attacks culminated in the action on Malvern Hill.

The Union's V Corps, commanded by Brig. Gen. Fitz John Porter, took up positions on the hill on June 30. McClellan was not present for the initial exchanges of the battle, having boarded the ironclad USS Galena and sailed down the James River to inspect Harrison's Landing, where he intended to locate the base for his army. Confederate preparations were hindered by several mishaps. Bad maps and faulty guides caused Confederate Maj. Gen. John Magruder to be late for the battle, an excess of caution delayed Maj. Gen. Benjamin Huger, and Maj. Gen. Stonewall Jackson had problems collecting the Confederate artillery.

The battle occurred in stages: an initial exchange of artillery fire, a minor charge by Confederate Brig. Gen. Lewis Armistead, and three successive waves of Confederate infantry charges triggered by unclear orders from Lee and the actions of Maj. Gens. Magruder and D. H. Hill, respectively. In each phase, the effectiveness of the Federal artillery was the deciding factor, repulsing attack after attack, resulting in a tactical Union victory. After the battle, McClellan and his forces withdrew from Malvern Hill to Harrison's Landing, where he remained until August 16. His plan to capture Richmond had been thwarted. In the course of four hours, a series of blunders in planning and communication had caused Lee's forces to launch three failed frontal infantry assaults across hundreds of yards of open ground, unsupported by Confederate artillery, charging toward firmly entrenched Union infantry and artillery defenses. These errors provided Union forces with an opportunity to inflict heavy casualties. In the aftermath of the battle, however, the Confederate press heralded Lee as the savior of Richmond. In stark contrast, McClellan was accused of being absent from the battlefield, a harsh criticism that haunted him when he ran for president in 1864.

Battle of Shepherdstown

The Battle of Shepherdstown, also known as the Battle of Boteler's Ford, took place September 19–20, 1862, in Jefferson County, Virginia (now West Virginia), at the end of the Maryland Campaign of the American Civil War.

Court-martial of Fitz John Porter

The court-martial of Fitz John Porter (November 25, 1862 – January 22, 1863) was a major event of the American Civil War. Major General Fitz John Porter was found guilty of disobeying a lawful order, and misconduct in front of the enemy and removed from command based on internal political machinations of the Union. The court-martial was later found to be unjust and overturned, and Porter was reinstated in the United States Army.

George W. Morell

George Webb Morell (January 8, 1815 – February 11, 1883) was a civil engineer, lawyer, farmer, and a Union general in the American Civil War.

Irvin McDowell

Irvin McDowell (October 15, 1818 – May 4, 1885) was a career American army officer. He is best known for his defeat in the First Battle of Bull Run, the first large-scale battle of the American Civil War. In 1862, he was given command of the I Corps of the Army of the Potomac. He fought unsuccessfully against Stonewall Jackson's troops during the Valley Campaign of 1862, and was blamed for contributing to the defeat of United States troops at the Second Battle of Bull Run in August.

James B. Ricketts

James Brewerton Ricketts (June 21, 1817 – September 22, 1887) was a career officer in the United States Army, serving as a Union Army general during the Civil War.

At First Bull Run, he was wounded and captured, but later exchanged. He fought at Second Bull Run and Antietam, where he was badly injured when his horse fell on him. While recuperating, he served on the Fitz John Porter court-martial, a highly political case, where his loyalties are believed to have cost him promotion. Later he commanded a division in the Overland campaign, and a corps in the Shenandoah Valley Campaign under Sheridan, where he received a chest wound at Cedar Creek that disabled him for life.

James E. Kelly (artist)

James Edward Kelly (July 30, 1855 – May 25, 1933) was an American sculptor and illustrator who specialized in depicting people and events of American wars, particularly the American Civil War.

James Laird (politician)

James Laird (June 20, 1849 – August 17, 1889) was an American Republican Party politician.

Laird was born in Fowlerville, New York and moved with his parents to Hillsdale County, Michigan. He attended Adrian College and enlisted at thirteen in the Sixteenth Regiment of the Michigan Volunteer Infantry in the Army of the Potomac during the American Civil War. At Gaines' Mill, a musket ball struck him in the breast; he was taken prisoner and held for six weeks at Libby Prison before being exchanged. Later he served at Chancellorsville and Gettysburg, and, after re-enlisting in 1864, took part in the Petersburg campaign. Over three years, from 1862 to 1865, he was wounded five times, and rose to the rank of major by the time he was seventeen. His two brothers both died in the war. He graduated from the law department of the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor and was admitted to the bar.

He set up practice in Hastings, Nebraska in 1872 and was a member of the Nebraska constitutional convention of 1875. He was elected as a Republican to fill the newly created 2nd district seat to the U.S. House of Representatives to the Forty-eighth United States Congress. He supported the moderate coinage of silver and favored revision of the high protective tariff, but not to the extent that would make him support either the Morrison tariff bill of 1886 or the Mills tariff bill of 1888. In that respect, he stayed safely in the good graces of the national party, and beat Democratic challengers easily, even with Prohibition third party candidates carrying somewhere between three and ten percent of the vote in a congressional race. As a member of the Military Affairs Committee, he pushed through a bill to make provision for homes for disabled soldiers in every state in the Union. He also served on the Pensions committee. As one senator said later, "No ex-soldier ever appealed to him in vain, and his generous nature could refuse nothing to the suffering or dependent." Breaking with other members of the Republican party, Laird strove to clear the name of General Fitz John Porter, who had been his old commanding general. "There was in his voice the sound of the ring of the saber," Congressman Byron Cutcheon of Michigan commented, "there was in his utterances the rattle of small arms in battle." Certainly one fellow congressman had cause to feel so that summer, when Laird took out a grievance by socking him in the mouth.He was re-elected three times serving from March 4, 1883, but after his re-election in 1888 had a nervous breakdown, complicated by insomnia; as a result, he never took his seat in the lame-duck session of the Fiftieth Congress and had no chance to attend the Congress that followed it. He died on August 17, 1889 in Hastings, aged 40. Laird is buried in Hastings' Parkview Cemetery.

Laird is the namesake of the community of Laird, Colorado.

John Codman Ropes

John Codman Ropes (April 28, 1836 - October 28, 1899) was an American military historian and lawyer, and the co-founder of the law firm Ropes & Gray.

Ropes was born on April 28, 1836 in St. Petersburg, Russia, the son of a leading merchant of Boston who was engaged in business in Russia. At the age of fourteen, his family having returned to Massachusetts, he developed an infection of the spine which eventually became a permanent deformity.

He entered Harvard in 1853, and graduated in 1857. His interests as a young man were chiefly religious, legal and historical, and these remained with him throughout life, his career as a lawyer being conspicuous and successful. But it was the outbreak of the U.S. Civil War in 1861 which fixed his attention principally on military history. He ceaselessly assisted with business and personal help and friendship the officers and men of the 20th Massachusetts regiment, in which his brother, Henry Ropes, was killed in action at Gettysburg, and after the war he devoted himself to the collection and elucidation of all obtainable evidence as to its incidents and events. In 1865, he co-founded the Boston-based law firm Ropes & Gray with John Chipman Gray.

In this work his clear and unprejudiced legal mind enabled him to sift the truth from the innumerable public and private controversies, and the ill-informed allotment of praise and blame by the popular historians and biographers. The focus of his work was the Military Historical Society of Massachusetts, which he founded in 1876. The work of this society was the collection and discussion of evidence relating to the great conflict. Although practically every member of his society except himself had fought through the war, and many, such as Hancock and W. F. Smith, were general officers of great distinction, it was from first to last maintained and guided by Ropes, who presented to it his military library and his collection of prints and medals. He died at Boston, Massachusetts on October 28, 1899.

His principal work is an unfinished Story of the Civil War, to which he devoted most of his later years; this covers the years 1861-62. The Army under Pope is a detailed narration of the Virginia campaign of August–September 1862, which played a great part in reversing contemporary judgment on the events of those operations, notably as regards the unjustly-condemned General Fitz John Porter. Outside America, Ropes is known chiefly as the author of The Campaign of Waterloo, which is one of the standard works on the subject.

The greater part of his studies of the Civil War appears in the Military Historical Society's publications. Papers on the Waterloo campaign appeared in the Atlantic Monthly of June 1881, and in Scribner's Magazine of March and April 1888. Among his miscellaneous works is a paper on The Likenesses of Julius Caesar in Scribner's Magazine (February 1887).

John Pope (military officer)

John Pope (March 16, 1822 – September 23, 1892) was a career United States Army officer and Union general in the American Civil War. He had a brief stint in the Western Theater, but he is best known for his defeat at the Second Battle of Bull Run (Second Manassas) in the East.

Pope was a graduate of the United States Military Academy in 1842. He served in the Mexican–American War and had numerous assignments as a topographical engineer and surveyor in Florida, New Mexico, and Minnesota. He spent much of the last decade before the Civil War surveying possible southern routes for the proposed First Transcontinental Railroad. He was an early appointee as a Union brigadier general of volunteers and served initially under Maj. Gen. John C. Frémont. He achieved initial success against Brig. Gen. Sterling Price in Missouri, then led a successful campaign that captured Island No. 10 on the Mississippi River. This inspired the Lincoln administration to bring him to the Eastern Theater to lead the newly formed Army of Virginia.

He initially alienated many of his officers and men by publicly denigrating their record in comparison to his Western command. He launched an offensive against the Confederate army of General Robert E. Lee, in which he fell prey to a strategic turning movement into his rear areas by Maj. Gen. Stonewall Jackson. At Second Bull Run, he concentrated his attention on attacking Jackson while the other Confederate corps attacked his flank and routed his army.

Following Manassas, Pope was banished far from the Eastern Theater to the Department of the Northwest in Minnesota, where he commanded U.S. Forces in the Dakota War of 1862. He was appointed to command the Department of the Missouri in 1865 and was a prominent and activist commander during Reconstruction in Atlanta. For the rest of his military career, he fought in the Indian Wars, particularly against the Apache and Sioux.

Maryland Campaign

The Maryland Campaign—or Antietam Campaign—occurred September 4–20, 1862, during the American Civil War. Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee's first invasion of the North was repulsed by the Army of the Potomac under Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan, who moved to intercept Lee and his Army of Northern Virginia and eventually attacked it near Sharpsburg, Maryland. The resulting Battle of Antietam was the bloodiest single-day battle in American history.

Following his victory in the Northern Virginia Campaign, Lee moved north with 55,000 men through the Shenandoah Valley starting on September 4, 1862. His objective was to resupply his army outside of the war-torn Virginia theater and to damage Northern morale in anticipation of the November elections. He undertook the risky maneuver of splitting his army so that he could continue north into Maryland while simultaneously capturing the Federal garrison and arsenal at Harpers Ferry. McClellan accidentally found a copy of Lee's orders to his subordinate commanders and planned to isolate and defeat the separated portions of Lee's army.

While Confederate Maj. Gen. Stonewall Jackson surrounded, bombarded, and captured Harpers Ferry (September 12–15), McClellan's army of 102,000 men attempted to move quickly through the South Mountain passes that separated him from Lee. The Battle of South Mountain on September 14 delayed McClellan's advance and allowed Lee sufficient time to concentrate most of his army at Sharpsburg. The Battle of Antietam (or Sharpsburg) on September 17 was the bloodiest day in American military history with over 22,000 casualties. Lee, outnumbered two to one, moved his defensive forces to parry each offensive blow, but McClellan never deployed all of the reserves of his army to capitalize on localized successes and destroy the Confederates. On September 18, Lee ordered a withdrawal across the Potomac and on September 19–20, fights by Lee's rear guard at Shepherdstown ended the campaign.

Although Antietam was a tactical draw, it meant the strategy behind Lee's Maryland Campaign had failed. President Abraham Lincoln used this Union victory as the justification for announcing his Emancipation Proclamation, which effectively ended any threat of European support for the Confederacy.

Reverdy Johnson

Reverdy Johnson (May 21, 1796 – February 10, 1876) was a statesman and jurist from Maryland. He gained fame as a defense attorney, defending notables such as Sanford of the Dred Scott case, Maj. Gen. Fitz John Porter at his court-martial, and Mary Surratt, alleged conspirator in the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. A former Whig, he was a strong supporter of the Union war effort. At first he opposed wartime efforts to abolish slavery until 1864, and supported 13th Amendment.

Second Battle of Bull Run

The Second Battle of Bull Run or Battle of Second Manassas was fought August 28–30, 1862 in Prince William County, Virginia, as part of the American Civil War. It was the culmination of the Northern Virginia Campaign waged by Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia against Union Maj. Gen. John Pope's Army of Virginia, and a battle of much larger scale and numbers than the First Battle of Bull Run (or First Manassas) fought on July 21, 1861 on the same ground.

Following a wide-ranging flanking march, Confederate Maj. Gen. Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson captured the Union supply depot at Manassas Junction, threatening Pope's line of communications with Washington, D.C. Withdrawing a few miles to the northwest, Jackson took up strong concealed defensive positions on Stony Ridge and awaited the arrival of the wing of Lee's army commanded by Maj. Gen. James Longstreet. On August 28, 1862, Jackson attacked a Union column just east of Gainesville, at Brawner's Farm, resulting in a stalemate but successfully getting Pope's attention. On that same day, Longstreet broke through light Union resistance in the Battle of Thoroughfare Gap and approached the battlefield.

Pope became convinced that he had trapped Jackson and concentrated the bulk of his army against him. On August 29, Pope launched a series of assaults against Jackson's position along an unfinished railroad grade. The attacks were repulsed with heavy casualties on both sides. At noon, Longstreet arrived on the field from Thoroughfare Gap and took position on Jackson's right flank. On August 30, Pope renewed his attacks, seemingly unaware that Longstreet was on the field. When massed Confederate artillery devastated a Union assault by Maj. Gen. Fitz John Porter's V Corps, Longstreet's wing of 25,000 men in five divisions counterattacked in the largest simultaneous mass assault of the war. The Union left flank was crushed and the army was driven back to Bull Run. Only an effective Union rear guard action prevented a replay of the First Manassas defeat. Pope's retreat to Centreville was nonetheless precipitous.Success in this battle emboldened Lee to initiate the ensuing Maryland Campaign.

V Corps (Union Army)

The V Corps (Fifth Corps) was a unit of the Union Army of the Potomac during the American Civil War.

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