Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies: Edward Porter Alexander's Accounts of the Battle of Chancellorsville (Illustrated)

Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies: Edward Porter Alexander's Accounts of the Battle of Chancellorsville (Illustrated)

by Edward Porter Alexander
     
 

In the narrative of the Civil War, Edward Porter Alexander has loomed larger in death than in life. Just 25 years old when the war broke out, Porter Alexander had already served as an engineer and officer in the U.S. Army, but the native Georgian resigned his commission in May 1861 and joined the Confederacy after his home state seceded.

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Overview

In the narrative of the Civil War, Edward Porter Alexander has loomed larger in death than in life. Just 25 years old when the war broke out, Porter Alexander had already served as an engineer and officer in the U.S. Army, but the native Georgian resigned his commission in May 1861 and joined the Confederacy after his home state seceded.

Porter Alexander spent 1861 as an intelligence officer, and he served as part of a signal guard, but he soon became chief of ordnance for Joseph Johnston’s army near Richmond. Half a year later, Johnston would be injured during the Peninsula Campaign at the Battle of Seven Pines, after which he was replaced by Robert E. Lee. Over the course of 1862, Porter Alexander took on more roles in the Army of Northern Virginia’s artillery branch, particularly under Longstreet’s 1st Corps.

Though he participated in several battles, Porter Alexander played his biggest role at the Battle of Gettysburg. On the third day, Lee decided to make a thrust at the center of the Union’s line with about 15,000 men spread out over three divisions. Though it is now known as Pickett’s Charge, named after division commander George Pickett, the assignment for the charge was given to Longstreet, whose 1st Corps included Pickett’s division. Longstreet had serious misgivings about Lee’s plan and tried futilely to talk him out of it.

Lee’s decision necessitated a heavy artillery bombardment of the Union line and attempting to knock out the Union’s own artillery before beginning the charge that would cover nearly a mile of open space from Seminary Ridge to the Union line on Cemetery Ridge. Lee tasked Porter Alexander, in charge of the 1st Corps’ guns, to conduct the artillery bombardment. What resulted was the largest sustained bombardment of the Civil War, with over 150 Confederate cannons across the line firing incessantly at the Union line for nearly 2 hours.
Unfortunately for Porter Alexander and the Confederates, the sheer number of cannons belched so much smoke that they had trouble gauging how effective the shells were. As it turned out, most of the artillery was overshooting the target, landing in the rear of the Union line. Reluctant to order the charge, Longstreet commanded Porter Alexander to order the timing for the charge. As Longstreet and Alexander anticipated, the charge was an utter disaster, incurring a nearly 50% casualty rate and failing to break the Union line.

In addition to his memoirs and other postwar writings, many of Porter Alexander’s official accounts of battles and campaigns written during the war were preserved in The War of the Rebellion: Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. Included here are two accounts of the Battle of Chancellorsville written by Porter Alexander in May 1863 and March 1864. The battle is considered the Army of Northern Virginia’s most impressive tactical victory. Despite being outnumbered, Lee daringly split his army in the face of the Army of the Potomac, having Stonewall Jackson’s corps march around the Union’s right flank. The bold tactics led to the rout of the XI Corps and disrupted General Hooker’s plans.

This edition of Porter Alexander’s official accounts includes illustrations and maps of the campaign, as well as pictures of the important commanders of the battle.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
2940013085329
Publisher:
Charles River Editors
Publication date:
08/29/2011
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
File size:
1 MB

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