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Samuel P. Heintzelman

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Samuel Peter Heintzelman
Samuel P. Heintzelman - Brady-Handy.jpg
Samuel P. Heintzelman
Born(1805-09-30)September 30, 1805
Manheim, Pennsylvania
DiedMay 1, 1880(1880-05-01) (aged 74)
Washington, D.C.
Place of burial
Forest Lawn Cemetery, Buffalo, New York
AllegianceUnited States of America
Service/branchUnited States Army
Union Army
Years of service1826–1869
Union Army major general rank insignia.svg
Major General
Commands heldIII Corps
XXII Corps
Battles/warsSeminole War

Mexican–American War

Yuma War

  • Battle of Coyote Canyon
  • Battle of the Gila River

Cortina Troubles

American Civil War

Appletons' Heintzelman Samuel Peter signature.png

Samuel Peter Heintzelman (September 30, 1805 – May 1, 1880) was a United States Army general. He served in the Seminole War, the Mexican–American War, the Yuma War and the Cortina Troubles. During the American Civil War he was a prominent figure in the early months of the war rising to the command of a corps.

The World War II Liberty ship SS <i>Samuel Heintzelman</i>, launched on 30 September 1942, was named in his honor.

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  • ✪ The Controversial Court Martial of Fitz John Porter
  • ✪ ROBERT E. LEE - WikiVidi Documentary


Alright, what we’re going to do today is were going to do the court martial of Fitz John Porter and we’re going to try to determine what what who what how, all that stuff, whether Fitz John Porter was a traitor or a scapegoat. Fitz John Porter is probably not familiar to most of you here especially you Gettysburg buffs because he left the stage so to speak by the time that 1863 rolls around. But in 1862 primarily, he was an up and coming general in the Union army. His fall, the reason for that, etc. whether he’s guilty or innocent, I hope I give you enough information to determine that on your own right, it’s going to be focus of this study and the story. Porter was born on August 31, 1822, in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. He came from a military pedigree but it was not in the army – but in the navy. His father was a captain and his uncle was a commodore in the navy and distinguished himself in the War of 1812. His cousin, David Dixon Porter, became an Admiral in the navy during the Civil War. Fitz John, I always liked that name Fitz John, “come here Fitz!” Fitz John he entered West Point in 1841. He graduated in 1845 ranking eighth in his class out of 41 pupils. Rank came quickly to Porter. He was promoted to 2nd Lt. June 18, 1846 and 1st Lt. on May 29, 1847. During the Mexican War he earned two brevet promotions for gallantry. The first to the rank of Captain for his performance at the Battle of Molino del Rey, did I get that right?, on Sept. 8, 1847 and the second brevet to major came five days later when Porter was wounded at Chapultepec. After the war, Porter became an adjunct instructor of cavalry and artillery at West Point from 1849 to 1853. He then served as the adjutant to the academy’s superintendent until 1855. And I would like to tell the people that are texting me right now as I’m speaking that I know that you can see me. Please do not text me during the lecture. You’re blowing my pocket up! I should be electrocuted up here maybe we can manage to get an organ out here. Okay, he then served as the adjutant to the academy’s superintendent until 1855. His next assignment was at Fort Leavenworth in 1856. Porter served with Albert Sidney Johnston in the Mormon Expedition in 1857 and 1858. When the Civil War began, Porter initially was sent to Texas to aid in the evacuation of US forces once Texas had seceded. The government did not trust the commander there. Thought he was pro-Southern so they dispatched Porter to shore up things. What does that tell you about what the government thinks about Porter’s loyalty? He was then assigned to be chief of staff to Gen. Robert Patterson in the Shenandoah Valley. It was Patterson who allowed Joe Johnston’s forces to slip away to a place called Manassas Junction to aid P G T Beauregard in the First Battle of Bull Run. Porter was basically his chief of staff. Patterson got cashiered as a result but Porter emerged unscathed. So much so that … In August, 61, Porter got his star. His date of commission was backdated to May 17, 1861 which gave him seniority for division command in the newly created Army of the Potomac. It was during this time period that Porter became a loyal subordinate and trusted friend of new army commander George McClellan. Now George McClellan doesn’t need an introduction… especially for those who are from Antietam he was heralded as the “young Napoleon” with the task of building an army in the east that could quell the rebellion. The one thing you need to know though, is Lil’ Mac is a Democrat. And Abraham Lincoln is a…. Republican. But McClellan had cover at this point, he was too important to touch. He was the savior of the nation, so to speak. In the early days of the war, two incidents occurred that cast Porter as a conservative in the war effort and a McClellan loyalist. The first came, the first came when a junior officer reported to him that his own personal slave, this is a Union officer who owns a slave, that his own personal slave had been caused by his superior officer “to abandon his master.” Porter later reflected that “Slavery existed and we were in a slave state and the owner was entitled to his servant and no officer had the right to use his rank and power to take property from a loyal officer… and appropriate it for his own use.” So… Porter returned the slave to the owner. This act did not escape the eyes of some congressmen, particularly the abolitionist leaning faction. The second incident involved the 22nd Massachusetts. (note the Gettysburg connection 22nd Mass) This regiment was known for the man who raised it – Sen. Henry Wilson of Massachusetts who at this point of the war, commanded the regiment and was still a senator. One day the Massachusetts men stripped a nearby house of its weatherboards in order to make floors for their winter huts. Porter viewed this wanton destruction as being detrimental to the war effort since it hardened Southerners toward reconciliation. Therefore he ordered the boards returned. What they did with them once the boards were returned, I have no idea but Wilson was not happy about it and when he returned to the senate he did not forget Porter’s actions. As the Union army, that’s a pretty cool picture isn’t it, as the Union army sat idle during the winter of 1861 and 1862, a debate began to brew in Congress over the conduct of the war and the state of slavery. Should the war be prosecuted with a “hard hand” or should the rights and property of Southern civilians be respected? Should the war that began to save the Union also be used to end the institution of slavery? We know the answers to these questions today but this early war period and had not been decided. Being conservative Democrats, McClellan and Porter said no to the hard hand approach and believed that the National government did not have a right to touch another person’s property. To unleash hard war the hard hand of war on the South would only cause the Confederates to fight harder. The Lincoln administration viewpoint, headed mainly by Secretary of War Edwin Stanton, obviously had the opposite opinion about that. To show you how politics hasn’t changed over time, both sides started to leak their side to the press in the classic game of “shadow debate.” Porter, in particular, took up with a New York World reporter. From his perception, Porter thought the majority of the Union army to be conservative saying “abolitionists in the armies of the U.S. are not looked upon as friends of the Union.” This great divide between the two camps on the progress of the war only continued to widen. In March of 1862, the Army of the Potomac landed east of Richmond at Fortress Monroe, Virginia. McClellan began his grand advance up the peninsula in April. The Army of the Potomac’s objective being Richmond, Virginia which is located on the left hand side of your map. In April of 1862, I’ll come back to this map in a minute, In April of 1862 Porter was involved in one of the curious incidents of the Civil War. Thaddeus Lowe had brought his new invention to the Union army – the hydrogen balloon. Lowe utilized his new machine to make aerial observations of the Confederate army. On several occasions, Porter ascended with Lowe in the balloon. On April 11, Porter decided not to wait on Lowe and ordered the cables of the balloon to be let out immediately. With a half inflated balloon and only one rope tethering it to Earth, Porter started to rise, then suddenly, from one of the hydrogen generators spilling on the rope, acid on the rope, it caused the rope to snap in two. Everybody looks up now, that’s now what I expected. He didn’t either. Porter started to drift out of control toward the Confederate lines with Professor Lowe hollering from below “open the valve! Open the valve!” Porter drifted south then he blew back north then blew back south then he blew back north. After letting all the gas out, his balloon became like a parachute and eventually he came crashing down, luckily for him, inside the Union lines on top of a tent – no worse for the wear. This incident though ended basically the ascension of most Union generals in any aerial device during the war but it wrote Porter into history. Throughout April and May, the Union army slowly advanced and methodically advanced toward Richmond. Advancing obviously from the right of the map to the left of the map. They reached the outskirts of the Confederate capital around the end of May. Confederate forces surprised them in a counterattack at Seven Pines on May 31st. It was this battle that Confederate army commander Joe Johnston was wounded and Robert E. Lee was placed in command. Also during the month of May, McClellan created two new corps and placed loyalist, meaning loyalist to him, in charge of these corps. Porter received command of the 5th Corps while William Franklin got the ??? The girl from Antietam is not answering this, my lord have mercy. The 6th Corps was commanded by William Franklin. As McClellan prepared to lay siege to Richmond, Lee plotted a counterstroke. Look up at the top of the map, see that big word called Porter, right there? The big thing you need to look at is Porter at the top of the map and that big blue light blue streak that goes through the middle of it, that’s a river, most of the Union army is below the river, south of the river, and Porter and his Fifth Corps are above the river – the Chickahominy. For almost a month in May and June, Porter’s Fifth Corps lay isolated on the north side of the Chickahominy. Porter’s mission was to extend his flank to the north to meet 40,000 impending Union reinforcements from Fredericksburg. These reinforcements were never sent and to their dying days, I wish for you to ponder this after the program, McClellan and Porter thought it was a conspiracy by the Lincoln administration to have them fail. Meanwhile, Lee sought to hold the main Union army in place while he took the majority of the Confederate army to destroy Porter. Lee struck on June 26 and 27 at Mechanicsville and Beaver Dam Creek, and Porter showed his worth in combat as he fought a good tactical retreat against superior numbers. This series of battles would become part of the Seven Days Campaign. So you see where Porter is right here up at the top, in this area, it shows some of his reinforcements, but the Chickahominy had flooded so what is Lee doing? He leaves Prince John Magruder down here to do a “dance and show” for the Federals in front and he did a good job at that. The majority of Lee’s army goes around to the north and strikes Porter. It’s very good fighting, I don’t guess you could say Porter was a winner but he was desperately outnumbered and he does a very good tactical retreat, defensive retreat. See how he’s no longer up here? See how they are coming down here? McClellan is retreating to the James River. You can see Porter here at Malvern Hill. You can see Lee trying to cut him off right through here. I want to say one thing about this Malvern Hill battle. This is fought on July 1st of 1862, Porter’s birthday was on, I believe it was on August 30, don’t quote me on that, but it was during the Battle of Second Manassas. Porter never celebrated his birthday in August. He always celebrated on July 1st. The scene of his greatest defensive battle. Now after the Battle of Malvern Hill, that evening, as Porter’s command withdrew from the battlefield, one of his brigade commanders, this gentleman right here, John Martindale, lost his cool. During the retreat, Martindale proposed that the command give themselves up. The idea was rejected by the fellow officers but when Porter subsequently found out, he had Martindale charged with “misbehavior in front of the enemy.” “misbehavior in front of the enemy.” And Porter is pushing these charges. Now this little incident may seem trivial, and it is in the big picture of the Civil War, but please remember it because it will come back into play again with Porter’s future troubles. Meanwhile, (Virginia) the Union army sitting down here along the James River, Lee is not going to sit idle. The Army of the Potomac is outside of Richmond for the month of July. On August 3, Washington ordered McClellan to withdraw his army from the peninsula and return to the Northern Virginia area. McClellan then dawdled until August 14 before starting his withdrawal though. Robert E. Lee, sensing McClellan was through, at least as far as an offensive from the east of Richmond, Lee began to shift his forces to meet another threat in Northern Virginia. Gen. John Pope had recently organized another Union force in Northern Virginia from the remnants of the Union forces that had faced Stonewall Jackson in the Shenandoah Valley. McClellan’s Army of the Potomac was to link up with Pope’s forces and the combined numbers would then take on Lee and Richmond from another direction. Lee had the inside track though. He would seek to destroy Pope before McClellan could get there. Let me put that back and rehash what we’re doing right here. Richmond is somewhere around right here. Alright, so, I know, I’m off a little bit, but I’m only 5’8” So Richmond is right here, the Union Army of the Potomac is somewhere over in here, they are right here. The Union army has got to embark on ships, go all the way down the James River, up the bay, up the Potomac, all the way up to Washington D.C. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out, if you know your geography here, Manassas is probably in this general area right here. Okay, Prince William County, and all that. Lee has a shorter distance to get to this point. Actually he doesn’t have to go that far, he has a shorter distance to get to this point than the Union army does but Lee has inferior forces. He doesn’t have as many men as McClellan does but he has more men than John Pope. If you want to. Is it in Lee’s best interest to allow these two forces to combine? No. So what is he going to try to do? He’s going to try to beat John Pope’s army before McClellan can get there. And that’s basically the Second Manassas which I will go in to more detail in just a second. Pope’s ascension to army command marked a change in the Union war strategy. As mentioned previously a debate raged in 1862 on the conduct of the war, should it be hard or should it be soft. Pope began by issuing bombastic orders like “I hear constantly of taking strong positions and holding them,’ of ‘lines of retreat,’ and ‘bases of supply,’… Let us discard such ideas.” He issued strong orders declaring his army was to live off the land and that all males that wouldn’t sign the loyalty oath were to be deported to Confederate lines. On July 22, Lincoln told his cabinet about his plans to issue the Emancipation Proclamation. The war is turning. Many Union officers had serious doubts about Pope’s abilities, but during the month of July, here we go, Porter vented his feelings about Pope to a relative stranger named Joe Kennedy. “I regret to see that Genl. Pope has not improved since his youth and has now written himself down what the military world has long known, as ass. His address to his troops will make him ridiculous in the eyes of military men abroad as well as at home, and will reflect no credit on Mr. Lincoln, who has just promoted him. If the theory he proclaims is practiced you may look for disaster.” Porter then went on to assail Lincoln by saying the army “put no faith” in the commander in chief. Porter then ended the letter by defending the leadership of McClellan. Well, you know how this is going to end… Kennedy, the guy Porter wrote the letter to, was a friend of cabinet secretary William Seward, and within a matter of days it was in the hands of, none other than, Abraham Lincoln and John Pope. Porter hasn’t even gotten there yet. Now what kind of image do you think Pope is getting? How would you like to get a letter from someone else that calls you an “ass”? Let me put it into that context. I just like to, well I don’t like repeating that word. Y’all remember David Letterman? In early August, McClellan was ordered to withdraw his army from the peninsula and join forces with Pope in Northern Virginia. The race was on. Jackson led the vanguard of Lee’s army to defeat Pope. I hate to give such short shrift to it because I have Mr. Cedar Mountain in the audience today but it’s not really the focus of the talk. He had a sharp battle on August 9 at Cedar Mountain with a detachment of Pope’s army. Hopefully the battlefield soon at Cedar Mountain will be a government entity. But I don’t know where that stands right now. On August 13, Lee committed the other half of his army under James Longstreet to join Stonewall Jackson in central Virginia. Lee spent the next ten days trying to force a crossing across the Rappahannock but to no avail. Basically Pope’s army is down by Fredericksburg. I’ve got a handy map, why not use it? See the Rappahannock? See the Rapidan? Don’t get ahead of the story, but this is where Pope is right here. We really need our own presentation on Second Manassas. Is the boss here? No, so I’m talking to myself. The original plan was to trap Pope by outflanking and trapping him in this Y right here. Alright? But Pope retreats fairly quickly so that doesn’t come to fruition. So Lee is still trying to get at Pope so how to do that? He spends the next ten days, like I said, trying to force a crossing across the Rappahannock. By now the lead elements of McClellan’s army were starting to arrive and as fate would decree, it was Porter’s corps that arrived first. In order to break the impasse, Lee dispatched Stonewall Jackson on a large flanking maneuver, you can see it in the center part and left of your map, which eventually gained Pope’s rear. On August 26, Jackson interdicted the railroad at Bristoe Station and the next day he captured the Union supply depot at Manassas Junction. Jackson then “disappeared,” positioning his army behind an old railroad cut in some dense woods. When I say he disappeared, he literally disappeared. Pope had no idea, it was like he vanished from the Earth. Pope searched relentlessly and fruitlessly for him. Back to that in a second… Porter, for his part, continued to write letters… like a big train wreck. This time he was writing to fellow general and friend, Ambrose E. Burnside, about the situation in northern Virginia. With Washington cut off from communication from Pope, the government asked for information from Burnside who was in Fredericksburg and Burnside dutifully forwarded Porter’s letters – unedited. Oh boy… in those letters Porter lampooned Pope for all his earlier bombast and wished for the return of McClellan to restore leadership in Northern Virginia. Not good… Meanwhile, on August 28, Jackson had finally revealed his location by attacking at a place called Brawner’s Farm. Pope was drawn to Jackson like flies to honey. The Union general consolidated his army at the old Manassas battlefield to destroy the foe. He concentrated so much on Jackson that he left the back door open and Longstreet, the other half of Lee’s army, was marching right through it, that door, to join up with Jackson. Pope had no idea they were coming. So, basic rehash, because there are a lot of arrows going on right here. First thing that happens to break the impasse, remember Pope is along the Rappahannock and so forth and he’s retreating back there. Jackson goes on a circuitous march, goes on a circuitous march all the way through Thoroughfare Gap. He ends up interdicting, see Pope’s supply line, the railroad, he ends up cutting Pope’s supply line at Bristoe Station. Prince William County Parks now owns the battlefield at Bristoe. It’s more known for the 1863 battle but it’s also the location of the 1862 skirmish if you will. Next day Jackson goes to Manassas Junction and seizes that depot right there. It is probably one of the highest marks of Confederate morale during the entire war. Confederate soldiers would write about that for decades. One soldier, out of everything that they found everything – oysters, lobsters, wine, uniforms, guns, I mean anything you could possibly want. One Confederate soldier out of everything he could take decided to take… nothing but French mustard. And you know what, it was the best capture of the day, you know why? Because he could parlay. These people carrying a ham over here you know – “you want some mustard?” He didn’t have to carry all the weight right there. They found a warehouse full of whiskey too in there and Jackson went to his men, to his, one of his staff officers, and whispered to him that he feared… you know where Jackson is, he’s behind Pope, I mean he’s caught. He’s in the rear behind the Union army in a precarious position. Jackson tells his staff officer that he fears that whiskey more than he does John Pope. And what it would do to his men. So Jackson burns the supply depot down. He then retreats. I’ll have a little bit better map in just a second. He then retreats a little bit back over here. He’s hiding out in a nutshell. And Pope is marching up and down the road trying to find him. And he can’t find him until Brawner’s Farm. Now when Pope finally did find him on August 29, his idea was to envelop Jackson’s position on both flanks. In other words, look at Jackson at the top. He wants to hit him on both sides of his line up there. Therefore, he ordered Sigel to envelop the Confederate left while Porter and McDowell’s forces enveloped the right. Meanwhile, while all this is being planned, none other than Gettysburg’s own John Buford and his cavalry had stumbled on to Longstreet’s column marching to the aid of Jackson. Buford reported the information to McDowell (Porter’s superior) and the Union envelopment of the Confederate right grounded to a halt. Listen carefully, McDowell who was probably, if he has one, Pope’s most trusted subordinate, McDowell then inexplicably failed to give Pope the dispatch about Longstreet until 7 that night which meant Pope labored all day on the 29th with the impression that Longstreet was not near. Meanwhile back on the Union right, or I should say the Union left. McDowell and Porter were unsure how large the Confederate force was in front and the fact that Tom Rosser and his Confederate cavalrymen continued to drag branches up and down the dirt roads behind the tree lines to simulate a large Confederate force did nothing to alleviate their concerns either. That sentence I wrote in honor of William Faulkner. Thank ya. He’s an author. Now Porter needed guidance on what to do now. I mean what is he suppose to do? Let’s look at the big picture. Porter’s down here if you haven’t found him yet. Here’s Porter. Basically, in a nutshell, Pope thinks that Porter… I couldn’t get a map showed it… Pope thinks that Porter is over here to the left of the map. So Pope feels that Porter should be able to march up this road and then come around and attack Jackson in the flank. Does that make sense? He can’t do that because Pope doesn’t realize the actual situation on the ground. We were talking about terrain earlier today and that all goes into it. Pope doesn’t know where his parts are, where his moving parts are and so he thinks Porter is over when Porter is over here. And Porter and McDowell, as I said, have received reports that Longstreet is on the field. In other words, Porter is outnumbered probably by about 15,000 men. And Porter doesn’t know what to do. He’s in a quandary. He needed guidance on what to do and around 11:00, he thought he had it when another order was received from John Pope. This directive, known in history as the “joint order,” sowed more confusion than anything though. Second Manassas historian and NPS veteran John Henessey describes the order as a “masterpiece of contradiction and obfuscation that would become the focal point of decades of wrangling.” .” This is how you don’t write… Have you ever gotten a memo from your boss and you have absolutely no idea what their talking about? In the “joint order,” Pope stated that the attacks on Jackson’s left were already underway – which they were, Sigel was already attacking. He then ordered Porter to move not “to” Gainesville, which is on the flank of Jackson, but “toward” Gainesville. After establishing communication with the rest of the Union army that is Porter “the whole command shall halt. It may be necessary to fall back behind Bull Run to Centreville tonight. I presume it will be so on account of supplies.” Nowhere in the order does it unequivocally state that Porter and McDowell were to make an attack. But the “joint order” did close with “If any considerable advantages are to be gained by departing from this order it will not be strictly carried out.” Around 4:00 in the afternoon, Pope finally sent a direct order for Porter to attack. But… the courier got lost, Pope’s nephew ironically, and did not deliver the order until 6:30 that evening. By that time, the sun was beginning to set. This series of events is a comedy of errors obviously. To me though the saddest part of the whole thing though, from a Union standpoint, is that Pope continued to make attacks on the Confederate left in anticipation that Porter would attack the right. In other words, these Union troops were being sacrificed for nothing in these piecemeal attacks. The one inadvertent thing that Porter’s forces did achieve though was by threatening Longstreet’s flank, Porter’s command delayed the Confederate counterattack. Longstreet didn’t want to attack with a force on the side right there. From Pope’s standpoint, Porter not attacking was only another example of the McClellan cabal. (The commanding general, Pope, did not know that Porter had not received the 4:00 order until 6:30) He didn’t know that. He thought he had sent a direct order to Pope, excuse me Porter, and Porter hadn’t obeyed. Pope was heard to shout “I’ll arrest him!” But before this happened cooler heads prevailed and Pope instead sent this direct order: Immediately upon receipt of this order, the precise hour of receiving which you will acknowledge, you will march your command to the field of battle of today and report to me in person for orders. You are to understand that you are to comply strictly with this order, and to be present on the field within three hours after its reception or after daybreak tomorrow morning. within three hours after its reception or after daybreak tomorrow morning. Porter did not march immediately, but nevertheless dutifully complied. His march was not without mishap though as his rear brigade became separated from the column and marched the wrong way and therefore out of the rest of the battle. Nevertheless, Porter now had his remaining 8,000 men with the main army, with Pope’s army. Throughout the morning, despite at least four separate reports, this is August 30th, despite at least four separate reports to the contrary, John Pope continued to believe that Jackson’s forces were on the retreat. So therefore, he ordered “a pursuit” to go after him. Well that pursuit turned out to be the shortest in history because the Confederates had not gone anywhere. Despite his flank being even more exposed, Pope nevertheless ordered Porter forward. Look at where Longstreet is and look at where Porter’s attack is. You don’t have to be a military scholar, ok? You don’t present your flank at right angles to the enemy. Porter attacked without any support or coordination from the rest of the Union army. Not surprisingly, after severe fighting, his attack was thrown back with heavy loss. The very thing that Porter had predicted had come true: Pope, the imbecile, was leading his army to defeat… but the irony was that Porter’s men were paying the price. As Porter’s remnants retreated, Longstreet counterattacked and it fell like a hammer on the Union forces. Only hard fighting, timely reinforcements, and sheer luck saved Pope’s army from disaster. The Battle of Second Manassas resulted in 14,000 Union casualties and 8,000 Confederate. Lee had failed to destroy Pope but the door lay wide open to Maryland. Of course, the repercussion followed swiftly on the heels of the Union defeat. September 1 – Lincoln reinstated McClellan to command. On September 3, Pope filed a preliminary report and insisted on reading it to Lincoln. He blamed many people but Porter got the lion share. Stanton could not act now though because the Confederate army had invaded Maryland and Porter would continue in command of the 5th Corps. In a roundabout way… September 5 – Abraham Lincoln calls a court of inquiry to review Pope’s allegations. September 17 – What happens on September 17? Sharpsburg. Who said that? I like you. The Battle of Antietam occurs. Porter’s Corps remains in reserve. The Union army repels Lee’s forces from Maryland but McClellan does not pursue aggressively or vigorously either in the immediate aftermath or through September or October. September 22 - In the aftermath of Antietam, Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation to take effect on January 1, 1863. Lincoln was now committed to a harsher war against the South and he needed the military behind him to do it. This is a key point right here. You never… I notice on cemetery tours that people don’t think of Abraham Lincoln as a politician but after the November elections, after the elecions… Lincoln gave a carte blanche order to the general in chief, Henry Halleck, to remove McClellan and Porter. Basically at will. On November 10, the ax fell on Porter and he was relieved of command and ordered to report to the adjutant general. On December 1, Porter finally learned of the specific charges against him. In military jargon, they are convoluted but they basically boiled down to these points right here: On August 27, Porter had not moved with enough alacrity in the march to reinforce Pope’s army. Pope, excuse me, Porter had violated the infamous “joint order” on August 29. On the same day, August 29, he failed to obey the second order to attack at 4:30 against Jackson’s right. Instead of advancing toward the enemy, he “had shamefully” fallen back. That evening, August 29, Porter had disobeyed the direct order to march immediately to the main army. In addition, through negligence, he had allowed portions of his corps to become detached and, as a result, had not participated in the battle. On August 30, Porter did not move into attack position with enough speed. When he finally did attack, he did so “feebly as to make little or no impression.” In the aftermath, Porter did not attempt to rally and reform his command. Those are the charges. Now these are in two categories and they have sub categories and all this stuff but this is basically what their doing, that’s what they are accusing him of. The prosecution is going to be led by this gentleman right here. A very nice looking man. Prosecutors are always so nice, caring… Lincoln appointed Joseph Holt to the newly created position of Judge Advocate General. Holt was a former cabinet member from President Buchannan’s administration. He was a Democrat. But he did not oppose the emancipation of slaves and he became a loyal supporter of the administration’s policies. Two notable instances of his name popping up in history were his arrest of Clement Vallandigham of Ohio, you Lincolnphiles probably don’t know this one, Vallandigham was arrested for treason and the second where Holt comes up is his prosecution of the Lincoln Assassination conspirators in 1865. Remember that was done in front of a military tribunal. Holt’s main ally in the Lincoln’s cabinet was Secretary of War Edwin Stanton. That’s a very good ally to have. And with Holt’s appointment, Stanton now had a staunch weapon to take on the McClellanites in the U.S. Army, which included Porter. Porter, for his part… I used to go to a creek behind my house back in Houston, I used to go back there and catch turtles when we had “show and tell.” I always liked the little box turtles. Phillip liked it. Porter would be defended by Reverdy Johnson. He was a veteran of the War of 1812 and later served in the Maryland legislature before becoming Attorney General under Zachary Taylor. In 1857, Johnson represented Dred Scott’s owner before the Supreme Court and won. He was a critic of Lincoln’s use of the executive power during the war. In 1862, Johnson clearly did not believe in emancipation either and after the formal end of slavery, he never supported any equality measures. In this sense, Johnson was a good fit for Porter since the general also viewed the army has not having a role in the seizure of property. Both believed in the war, but not at the sake of Constitutional principal. The court-martial, which I’m sorry it’s the only thing I could get on it, but this is an actual sketch, the court-martial got underway in earnest on December 4 and yes, it was held around a table. It doesn’t look like a courtroom. They all sat around a table. And from December 4 proceeded, in total, for the next, basically, forty-five days. The list of witnesses included John Pope, George McClellan, Samuel Heintzelman, George Morrell, George Sykes, John Reynolds, Charles Griffin, Samuel Sturgis, those of you that have watched my lectures here better have remembered Sturgis, Daniel Butterfield, and Irvin McDowell. On January 5, as you would know, Stanton, Secretary of War, told the court to hurry up and they wrapped up proceedings on January 11. Now, as I told you, I’m not going to go through the whole machinations of this. We could spend all afternoon with point and counterpoint, with what was true and what was not true, etc. And we’ll get around to a little bit of that in a just second anyway. What I choose to do though was to read the summation basically, a portion of the summation of each counsel at the end of the trail. In his summation, Porter’s counsel argued that unyielding adherence to orders could only occur when the superior commander was present on the field. Johnson argued that Napoleon’s maxim that “a military order exacts passive obedience only when it is given by a superior who is present on the spot at the moment when he gives it. Having then knowledge of the state of things, he can listen to the objections and give the necessary explanations to him who should execute the order.” Although this may seem like a common sense approach, this was not a written military rule. And now things came full circle, remember Gen. Martindale, the guy that wanted to surrender during the Seven Days? The one that wanted to surrender? Porter wanted to court martial him for something similar without affording Martindale the very defense he now claimed. And a couple of the officers on this court martial had been at the hearing for Martindale when Porter preferred the charges. The charges were never… they were not approved in a nutshell. I may have the language wrong, but he was never court-martialed. Martindale that is… but how do certain members of this court look at Porter? When Holt, the prosecutor, presented the court’s findings to Lincoln, he emphasized that Porter had put his own character on trial by introducing evidence of his own zeal and patriotism. However, Holt told Lincoln that “the law admits such proof in criminal prosecutions because a presumption of innocence arises from former good conduct.” Holt ended his summation to Lincoln by stating that military obedience was at the heart of the case. Porter failed to obey the orders. Thus Holt avoided accusing Porter of treason or a being a saboteur. On January 21, the court announced their verdict. They found Porter guilty of all the charges with some modifications. “And the court do therefore sentence him, Major General Fitz John Porter, of the United States volunteers, to be cashiered and to be forever disqualified from holding any office of trust or profit under the government of the United States.” Porter learned of the verdict from a reporter on the street who asked for a comment. Porter was devastated. With his honor besmirched, he chose to fight though rather than run from his troubles. Seven years after the verdict, Porter petitioned President Grant to reopen the trial. After consulting former members of the court, Grant responded, can you imagine getting this from U.S. Grant, “the rank and file were patriotic, brave, and true fighting for a principle which I am now convinced you had forgotten.” In 1879, President Hayes commissioned a board of inquiry to reassess Porter’s case. Presided over by General Schofield and hence named the Schofield Commission, the board heard new evidence including testimony from Gen. James Longstreet. Pope said he wasn’t there on August 29th. Porter’s like “he was there!” and Longstreet, war is over obviously, it’s like fifteen years later, something like that, now you can hear from the enemy. The commission was able to meet without any of the prior political pressure also. Lincoln and Stanton had passed away. Holt had retired four years earlier. The officers came to the conclusion that Porter had been wrongly convicted and recommended a new trial. However, they did not completely clear Porter either. In regards to the blunt letters written by Porter about Pope, which had been reproduced over and over at the court-martial and the innuendo about Lincoln, the board said that these “indiscreet and unkind terms in which General Porter expressed his distrust of the capacity of his superior commander cannot be defended. And to that indiscretion was due, in very great measure, the misinterpretation of both his motives and his conduct and his consequent condemnation.” In other words, the Schofield Commission found, they cannot overturn the court-martial verdict, they do not have the power to do that. They recommend that a new trail take place is there first recommendation, but they basically say that Porter “dug his own hole.” In 1880, Gen. Emory Upton petitioned President James Garfield for Porter’s reinstatement. Garfield, who was actually on the military commission that found Porter guilty, refused to do so. Only in 1884, when the first Democrat was elected to the Presidency since the Civil War, (who’s the first Democrat? All of you that got have thoroughly impressed me) Grover Cleveland, first Democrat, finally restored Porter to duty and allowed him to immediately retire. Even with his reinstatement and subsequent death in 1901, the controversy over Porter and the court martial never did subside. Porter’s courtmartial was the highest profile court martial during the war. Even in 2017, his name still brings up debate. (like the gentleman who was hissing earlier) Did Porter intentionally and willfully bring about Pope’s demise? With all the testimony before us today, the answer is no. John Pope did it well enough by himself. But Porter’s courtmartial, unfortunately for him, collided at an intersection with two forces. The first was General Pope and the need for a scapegoat. The second was the emergence of the Lincoln adminstration’s tilt toward total war, the move toward emancipation, and the need to cleanse the army of all those that opposed the government’s direction. But Porter’s character… excuse me. Certainly no one was ever more loyal to McClellan than Fitz John Porter. But Porter’s character was of the nature that he would never swerve in his opinions or demeanor once he thought he was right. This obviously placed him in a juxtaposed position to the Lincoln administration. In order to reform the army of “conservative” generals, Porter fit the bill perfectly. Get rid of McClellan and make an example of Porter. Even after his death in 1901, his name still evoked deep seated memories. When a loyal supporter began efforts to erect a statue in his honor, some Union veterans still raised heck about it. One letter published in 1902 declared it “a great mistake and greater wrong” to erect a monument “to a man who is believed to have subjected an army to overwhelming defeat, through jealousy and pique, if not cowardice.” Nevertheless, on July 1, 1906, on the 44th anniversary of the Battle of Malvern Hill, Porter’s statue was unveiled in Haven Park in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Hopefully ladies and gentlemen, despite everything that occurred to Fitz John Porter, hopefully today Fitz John Porter’s spirit, his soul, can finally rest in peace. For Lord knows he went through enough travails trying to get his name back over a twenty some odd year long period. This is what happens when there are false prosecutions. Thank y’all very much!


Early life and military service

Heintzelman was born in Manheim, Pennsylvania, to Peter and Ann Elizabeth Grubb Heintzelman. He graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1826 and was commissioned a brevet second lieutenant in the 3rd U.S. Infantry, July 1, 1826, then in the 2nd U.S. Infantry and served on the Northern frontier at Fort Gratiot, Fort Mackinac, and Fort Brady. On March 4, 1833, he was promoted to first lieutenant and served on quartermaster's duty in Florida during the Second Seminole War. On July 7, 1838, he was appointed captain in the Quartermaster's Department, remaining in Florida with the 2nd Infantry until the close of the war in 1842. In 1847, during the Mexican–American War, he joined General Winfield Scott's army in Mexico, taking part in several engagements, for which he was appointed brevet major on October 9, 1847. In 1848–49 he accompanied his regiment around Cape Horn to California, and for several years served in California and the Arizona Territory.

In December 1851, Major Heintzelman led the Yuma Expedition from the post of San Diego to put down the Yuma uprising, called the Yuma War. His expedition established Fort Yuma and peace was made in October, 1852. He received the brevet of lieutenant colonel for his conduct in the campaign against the Yuma Indians and on March 3, 1855, he was promoted to major of the 1st U.S. Infantry and served with that regiment on the Texas frontier.[1] In 1859, during the First Cortina War in Texas, he was largely responsible for the defeat of Juan Cortina's forces.[citation needed]

Heintzelman was the first president of the Sonora Exploring and Mining Company which established the Cerro Colorado, Arizona, mining town in southern Arizona. The town became famous during the American Civil War for the massacre of mine employees by Mexican outlaws and for buried treasure.

Civil War

When the Civil War began, Heintzelman was promoted to colonel of the 17th U.S. Infantry and brigadier general of volunteers in May 1861. He led a division at First Bull Run in July and was wounded in the elbow.

Heintzelman was in overall command of the 2nd Michigan Infantry regiment that was responsible for the raid, ransacking, and devastation of Pohick Church in Lorton, Virginia, on November 12, 1861. The historic church was built in 1769 by George Washington, George Mason, and George William Fairfax, among others, and restored after the War of 1812 by President Martin Van Buren, John Quincy Adams, and Francis Scott Key, among others. This ransacking caused the loss of a myriad of irreplaceable artifacts.[2]

In March 1862, President Lincoln organized the Army of the Potomac into corps, and Heintzelman received the III Corps of the Army of the Potomac in the Peninsula Campaign. His corps played a prominent role in the siege of Yorktown where Heintzelman and division commander Fitz John Porter were among the first to use the Union Army Balloon Corps. The corps bore the brunt of the fighting at Williamsburg and saw significant action at Fair Oaks, Oak Grove, and Glendale. His corps was temporarily attached to the Army of Virginia and took part in the Second Battle of Bull Run. He was commissioned as a brevet brigadier general in the regular army for the battle of Fair Oaks and a major general of volunteers for the battle of Williamsburg. At the Battle of Glendale, Heintzelman was bruised in the wrist by a spent bullet and was unable to use his left arm for a few weeks. After the Seven Days Battles, he was promoted to major general of volunteers to rank from May 5. His popularity and confidence in the army were eclipsed by the aggressive nature of his subordinate division commanders Joseph Hooker and Philip Kearny, and he did not display any notable leadership or tactical prowess in either the Peninsula Campaign or Second Bull Run, although following the Union retreat from Gaines Mill, he was one of three corps commanders to advocate launching a counterattack against the Army of Northern Virginia.[3]

The Second Bull Run campaign had been very hard on the III Corps, which sustained heavy losses, including one of its division commanders, and had come close to being driven from the field in panic. On September 4, Heintzelman was relieved from command, being judged as too old and insufficiently aggressive. He spent the remainder of the war commanding the Washington defenses. At war's end in 1865, Heintzelman reverted to the rank of colonel in the regular army. He served on army boards of inquiry and on occupation duty in Texas as part of Reconstruction.

Heintzelman retired on February 22, 1869 and was granted a promotion to major general, entitling him to the pension of that rank. He died in Washington, D.C., on May 1, 1880, at the age of 74. He is buried in Forest Lawn Cemetery, Buffalo, New York. According to his doctor, he died of complications arising from an attack of pleurisy during the Peninsula Campaign eighteen years earlier.[4]

His grandson Stuart Heintzelman, a West Point alumnus of the class of 1899, served in World War I and rose to the rank of Major General.

See also


  1. ^ Robinson, p. 4.
  2. ^ Pohick Church history
  3. ^ Heintzelman's obituary by John C. Robinson
  4. ^ Roll of Honor, The Buffalo Commercial, (Buffalo, New York) May 31, 1900, page 8, accessed May 19, 2017 at


  • Eicher, John H., and David J. Eicher. Civil War High Commands. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2001. ISBN 0-8047-3641-3.
  • Robinson, John C. Obituary Notice of Major General Samuel P. Heintzelman, First Commander of the Third Army Corps. New York: Charles H. Ludwitt, 1881.]
  • Warner, Ezra J. Generals in Blue: Lives of the Union Commanders. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1964. ISBN 0-8071-0822-7.
  • Pohick Church history

External links

Preceded by
Commander of the III Corps (Army of the Potomac)
March 13 – October 30, 1862
Succeeded by
George Stoneman
This page was last edited on 26 June 2019, at 02:49
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