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John M. Porter Memoir, 1861-1865

(Manuscript Collection #653)

Descriptive Summary Click here to collapse or expand the contents in this section of the finding aid

Title: John M. Porter Memoir
Creator: Porter, John M.
Repository: ECU Manuscript Collection
Languages: English
Abstract: Memoir (1861-1865) including correspondence, transfer and escape of prisoners, details of sabotage of a Union train.
Extent: 0.073 Cubic feet, 1 item , consisting of 151 typed pages.

Administrative Information Click here to collapse or expand the contents in this section of the finding aid

Accessions Information

September 9, 1993, 1 item, 0.073 cubic feet; Memoir (1861-1865) entitled "A Brief Account of Experiences of Hon. John M. Porter During the War For Southern Independence," including correspondence, transfer and escape of prisoners, details of sabotage of a Union train. Typescript copy of original. Donor: Mr. Stuart V. Carter, Jr.

Access Restrictions

No restrictions

Copyright Notice

Literary rights to specific documents are retained by the authors or their descendants in accordance with U.S. copyright law.

Preferred Citation

John M. Porter Memoir (#653), East Carolina Manuscript Collection, J. Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina, USA.

Acquisition Information

  • Gift of Mr. Stuart V. Carter, Jr.

Processing Information

  • Processed by D. Painter, May 1995

  • Encoded by Apex Data Services


Biographical / Historical Note Click here to collapse or expand the contents in this section of the finding aid

Mr. Porter resided in Butler, Kentucky, and enlisted in the Confederate Army on November 2, 1861, in the Buckner Guides, a cavalry company under General Albert Sydney Johnston. When the Guides disbanded in mid-1862, he briefly joined the 8th Texas at Tuscumbia, Alabama, before joining a cavalry company under the command of Captain John H. Morgan. Morgan later became a general in command of the 9th Kentucky Cavalry and Porter remained with this regiment for the duration of the war. At the war's end, Porter was lieutenant of Company C of the 9th Kentucky Cavalry.

Description Click here to collapse or expand the contents in this section of the finding aid

This is a memoir (written in 1872) of John M. Porter's activities during the Civil War.

Division of sentiment in the border states of Kentucky and Tennessee over the justification for the war and disagreement over President Lincoln set the background for the memoir (p. 4). This theme is reflected through notations concerning rural networks of farms that either protected or opposed Union or Confederate armies.

Porter describes joining the Buckner Guides (pp. 8-9) and night scouting missions around and behind enemy lines (p. 10). He details the defense and fall (February 1862) of Fort Henry on the Tennessee River and Fort Donelson on the Cumberland River (pp. 12-21) as well as his capture, transfer to St. Louis, Missouri, with other prisoners, and escape (p. 22).

Not long after rejoining his unit, the Buckner Guides disbanded and Porter joined the 9th Kentucky Cavalry (pp. 30-31). Morgan's raids into Kentucky and Tennessee involved disruption of Union troop movements and supply lines, and surprise attacks which led to battles and skirmishes. Porter details skirmishes at Cynthiana, KY (pp. 42-44); McMinnville, TN (pp. 47-48); Gallatin, TN (pp. 49-50); Hartsville and Scotsville Pikes, TN, which led to the capture of Union General Johnson (pp. 51-52); Perryville, KY (pp. 60-61); Nashville, TN (pp. 69-70); Carthage, KY (pp. 74-75, 77-78); Elizabethtown, KY (pp. 78-79); Rolling Fork River, KY (pp. 80-81); and Liberty and Snow Hill, TN (pp. 84-93). A map of Liberty and the surrounding area is included (p. 86). Descriptions of the actions of Col. Basil Duke are given in connection with raids in Kentucky (pp. 46-47, 80-81).

Porter details the sabotage of a Union train (pp. 114-115); picket duty near McMinnville, TN (pp. 117-118); and his capture in Kentucky (p. 125). Detailed descriptions reflect his imprisonment on Johnson's Island in the Sandusky Bay area of Lake Erie off the coast of Ohio, including food, climate, a failed escape attempt, and the burial of a fellow prisoner (pp. 127-137). Additionally, there are two sketches of this prison, one on the verso of the title page and the second on page 131.

Released in a prisoner exchange (February 1865), Porter was transported to Richmond, VA, where he notes inflation in prices of goods (p. 139) and discusses the evacuation of Richmond and President Jefferson Davis' retreat to Danville, VA (pp. 140-141). Traveling south in search of an army not near surrender, he describes the destruction along the path of Sherman's "March to the Sea" (pp. 146-147).

Online access to this finding aid is supported with funds created through the federal Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA). These funds come through a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services which is administered by the State Library of North Carolina, a division of the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources. This grant is part of the North Carolina ECHO, Exploring Cultural Heritage Online, Digitization Grant Program.

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This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held in the Special Collections Division, J.Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University. The materials described here are physically available in our reading room. None of the original documents in this collection are digitally available online at this time.
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