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 had served with distinction during the Civil War, it was Porter Alexander’s memoirs that have kept his name alive today. Though many prominent officers on both sides wrote memoirs, Porter Alexander’s were among the most insightful and often considered by historians as the most evenhanded. With a sense of humor and a good narrative, Porter Alexander skillfully narrates the war, his service, and he isn’t afraid to criticize officers, including Lee, when he thought they had made mistakes. As a result, historians continue to rely heavily on his memoirs as a source for Civil War history.
This account of the Appomattox Campaign comes from Alexander’s memoirs, Military Memoirs of a Confederate: A Critical Narrative. In addition to discussing his participation during that campaign, Porter Alexander also discusses the battles and campaigns out west in the Fall of 1864, including Sherman’s Atlanta Campaign. It is specially formatted with a Table of Contents, images and maps of the Petersburg Campaign, and pictures of Alexander.