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 Edward Porter Alexander

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Edward Porter Alexander

Civil War Confederate Brigadier General. Known mostly as "Porter", he was considered talented engineer and artillerist when in 1857 he graduated 3rd in his class from the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York. Receiving his commission as a 2nd Lieutenant in October 10, 1858, his routine postings and a teaching assignment at West Point were broken up by his brief participation in the Army's 1858 Utah Expedition and, in 1859, his historic work with surgeon Albert J. Myer, with whom he developed the Wigwag communications (this later became one of the most visible features of Civil War communications). Resigning from the United States Army in May 1861, he entered Confederate Army with a commission of Captain, and was attached to Brigadier General Pierre G.T. Beauregard's staff as signal officer. Seeing action in the July 1861 First Bull Run Campaign, he served opposite Albert J. Myer, who was by then a Major in the Union army. Porter Alexander used the wigwag system the two created to warn Confederate troops of a potentially fatal Union flanking movement, warding off possible early disaster for Southern forces. For his actions at Bull Run, he was made Chief of Ordnance for the Army of Northern Virginia and promoted to Major. A short time later, he was promoted again to Lieutenant Colonel, beginning his long association with that army's artillery arm, in which he saw service in almost all its battles and campaigns that followed. Advanced to Colonel in late 1862, through May 1863, when he took part in Lieutenant General Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson's Chancellorsville operations, he served as Lieutenant General James Longstreet's chief of artillery. In July of that year he participated in the Battle of Gettysburg, and on the Third Day of fighting (July 3, 1863) commanded 140 Confederate cannon in the non-stopped 2-hour bombardment of the center of the Union lines that preceded Pickett's Charge. The Federals replied with 100 guns, and at the end of the duel, he had almost completely expended his corps' supply of artillery ammunition. That summer he accompanied Longstreet on detached service from the Army of Northern Virginia, participating in the Tennessee Campaign, and in the Siege of Knoxville. He returned to Virginia early in 1864, and on February 26 was promoted to Brigadier General (he would be one of only three Confederates General officers to hold that rank in the artillery service). Taking part in the Battles of Spottsylvania and Cold Harbor, the last few months of the war found him at Petersburg. Even before the July 1864 Battle of the Crater, he saw possibilities for Union mining operations against the Confederate defenses and urged that countermines be tried. Shortly after the battle, he was seriously wounded and, on his return from recuperative leave, was involved in operations at Chaffin's Farm and Drewry's Bluff along the James River before joining the remaining Virginia troops for their final march to Appomattox. He was surrendered and paroled there with the rest of the army. Following the war, his engineering skill brought him prominence in the railroad industry, the academic community, and in minor public offices before he died in Savannah, Georgia in 1910.

Bio by: Ugaalltheway


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 30 Jan 2000
  • Find A Grave Memorial 8335
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Edward Porter Alexander (26 May 1835–28 Apr 1910), Find A Grave Memorial no. 8335, citing Magnolia Cemetery, Augusta, Richmond County, Georgia, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .