Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Porter Alexander

Since I am still new to civil war history, I have not grasped on to alot of the history of the personalities of the conflict. I have however gravitated to a few favorites that I will share with you over the next few blogs.

The first is Confederate Gen. Edward Porter Alexander. Porter was born on May 26, 1935 in Washington, Ga(about 100 miles east of Atlanta). After his graduation from West Point in 1857,

He served as assistant professor of engineering for the Academy. In 1861 he resigned this position to join the Confederate Army
Where he was made chief of ordinance and a signal officer in the army of Northern Virginia. 1862 he was promoted Colonel and again in 1864 to Brigadier General. He served as a Chief Artillery Officer under Gen. James Longstreet at the Battles of Gettysburg.
He may be best known as the officer in charge of the massive artillery bombardment preceding Pickett's Charge on the third day of the Battle of Gettysburg. He also had an interest in Observation Ballooning that could be used for intelligence purposes. At Appomattox Court House, it was Alexander who made the famous proposal to Robert E. Lee that the confederate army disperse into the hills for a guerrilla war, rather than surrendering. Lee rebuked him.
After the war, Alexander was named professor of mathematics at the University of South Carolina and then served in executive positions with the Charlotte, Columbia, and Augusta Railroad (executive superintendent), the Savannah and Memphis Railroad (president), and the Louisville and Nashville Railroad (president).He became friends with Grover Cleveland and spent many hours duck hunting. In May 1897, President Cleveland sent Alexander to be the arbiter of a boundary dispute between Nicaragua and Costa Rica, in preparation for a possible canal to be dug across Central America. He spent two years surveying and supervising the boundary, completed the work to the great acclaim of the two governments, and returned to the U.S. in October 1899.His wife Bettie became ill while he was in Nicaragua and she died on November 20, 1899. In October 1901, Alexander married Mary Mason, his first wife's niece.
Alexander died in 1910 in Savannah, Ga and is buried in Magnolia Cemetery, Augusta, Georgia.