Horace Porter

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Horace Porter
Horace Porter - Brady-Handy.jpg
Born (1837-04-15)April 15, 1837
Huntingdon, Pennsylvania
Died May 29, 1921(1921-05-29) (aged 84)
Manhattan, New York
Buried West Long Branch, New Jersey
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch United States Army
Union Army
Years of service 1860–1873
Rank Union Army colonel rank insignia.png Colonel
Union Army brigadier general rank insignia.svg Brevet Brigadier General

American Civil War

Awards Medal of Honor
Legion of Honor
Relations David R. Porter (father)
Other work Author
President of the Union League Club of New York
Held several government posts

Horace Porter (April 15, 1837 – May 29, 1921) was an American soldier and diplomat who served as a lieutenant colonel, ordnance officer and staff officer in the Union Army during the American Civil War, personal secretary to General and President Ulysses S. Grant and to General William T. Sherman, vice president of the Pullman Palace Car Company and U.S. Ambassador to France from 1897 to 1905.

Early life and education[edit]

Porter was born in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania, on April 15, 1837,[1] the son of David R. Porter, an ironmaster who later served as Governor of Pennsylvania. A first cousin, Andrew Porter, was a Mexican-American War veteran and Union Army brigadier general.[1] Horace Porter was educated at The Lawrenceville School in Lawrenceville, New Jersey (class of 1856)[2] and Harvard University. He graduated from West Point July 1, 1860.[1] Porter was commissioned a second lieutenant on April 22, 1861 and a first lieutenant on June 7, 1861.[1]


American Civil War[edit]

Porter served in the Union Army in the American Civil War, reaching the grade of lieutenant colonel by the end of the war.[1] During the war, he served as Chief of Ordnance in the Army of the Potomac, Department of the Ohio and the Army of the Cumberland.[1] He was distinguished in the Battle of Fort Pulaski, Georgia, at the Battle of Chickamauga, the Battle of the Wilderness and the Second Battle of Ream's Station (New Market Heights).[1] On June 26, 1902 or July 8, 1902,[3] Porter received the Medal of Honor for the Battle of Chickamauga as detailed in the citation noted below. In the last year of the war, he served on the staff of Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, later writing a lively memoir of the experience, Campaigning With Grant (1897).[1]

From April 4, 1864 to July 25, 1866, Porter was aide-de-camp to General Ulysses S. Grant with the grade of lieutenant colonel in the regular army.[1] On July 17, 1866, President Andrew Johnson nominated Porter for appointment as brevet brigadier general, to rank from March 13, 1866, and the U.S. Senate confirmed the appointment on July 23, 1866.[4] From July 25, 1866 to March 4, 1869, Porter was aide-de-camp to General Ulysses S. Grant with the grade of colonel in the regular army.[1]

Grant administration[edit]

Pullman's Palace Car Co. stock certificate signed by Porter in 1884.

From 1869 to 1872, Porter served as President Grant's personal secretary in the White House.[1] At the same time, he held the grade of colonel and an appointment as aide-de-camp to General William T. Sherman.[1]

Porter had refused to take a $500,000 vested interest bribe from Jay Gould, a Wall Street financier, in the Black Friday gold market scam. He told Grant about Gould's attempted bribery, thus warning Grant about Gould's intention of cornering the gold market. However, during the Whiskey Ring trials in 1876, Treasury Solicitor Bluford Wilson claimed that Porter was involved with the scandal.[5][6] Porter testified before the committee investigating the scandal, and was never formally charged with wrongdoing.[7]

Later life and death[edit]

Resigning from the U.S. Army on December 31, 1873,[1] Porter became vice president of the Pullman Palace Car Company, and later, president of the West Shore Railroad. He was U.S. Ambassador to France from 1897 to 1905,[1] paying for the recovery of the body of John Paul Jones and sending it to the United States for re-burial. He received the Grand Cross of the Legion of Honor from the French government in 1904. In addition to Campaigning with Grant, he also wrote West Point Life (1866).

Porter was president of the Union League Club of New York from 1893 to 1897. In that capacity, he was a major force in the construction of Grant's Tomb.

He was elected an honorary member of the Pennsylvania Society of the Cincinnati in 1902. He was also a member of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States and a Hereditary Companion of the Military Order of Foreign Wars by right of his descent from Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Porter who served in the American Revolution.

In 1891 he joined the New York Society of the Sons of the American Revolution, where he served as President General from 1892 through 1896. He was assigned national membership number 4069 and state membership number 69. [8]

Horace Porter died at New York, New York, May 29, 1921.[1] He was buried in West Long Branch Cemetery, West Long Branch, New Jersey.[1]

Medal of Honor citation[edit]


Rank and Organization:

Captain, Ordnance Department, U.S. Army. Place and date: At Chickamauga, Ga., September 20, 1863. Entered service at: Harrisburgh, Pa. Born: April 15, 1837, Huntington, Pa. Date of issue: July 8, 1902.


While acting as a volunteer aide, at a critical moment when the lines were broken, rallied enough fugitives to hold the ground under heavy fire long enough to effect the escape of wagon trains and batteries.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p Eicher, John H., and David J. Eicher, Civil War High Commands. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2001. ISBN 0-8047-3641-3. pp. 435-436
  2. ^ Eicher, 2001, p. 435 identifies this as the Lawrence Scientific School.
  3. ^ The uncertainty as to the date is expressed in the source, Eicher, 2001, p. 435
  4. ^ Eicher, 2001, p. 736
  5. ^ Jean Edward Smith, Grant, pp. 481-490, Simon & Schuster, 2001.
  6. ^ McFeeley 1981, p. 409
  7. ^ New York Times, Western Whisky Frauds: Gen. Horace Porter's Testimony, August 13, 1876
  8. ^ "Presidents General of the SAR and Annual Congress Sites". Sons of the American Revolution website. 2014-03-18. Retrieved 2015-02-19. 
  9. ^ "PORTER, HORACE, Civil War Medal of Honor recipient". American Civil War website. 2007-11-08. Retrieved 2007-11-08. 


Further reading[edit]

Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
James B. Eustis
U.S. Ambassador to France
Succeeded by
Robert S. McCormick