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Re: [alabamahistory] Diane Dieterle 1939-2007 [ Well known genealogist]

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  • DaNptAl@aol.com
    A DREAM REALIZED! On March 1, I got back from the printers my book, Prey For us All, the war letters of Benjamin Franklin Porter, 11th Alabama. (Yancey s
    Message 1 of 2 , Mar 12, 2007
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      On March 1, I got back from the printers my book, Prey For us All, the war letters of Benjamin Franklin Porter, 11th Alabama.
      (Yancey's Rifles, 11th Alabama, Wilcox's Brigade, Longstreet's Division, Army of Northern Virginia, R.E. Lee, commanding)
      Ben Porter was a 17 year old farm boy of moderate means who left his home at St. Stephens, Alabama in June 1861. He returned a sick, wounded man in February 1865 much older than his 21 chronological years. He was going home on sick furlough, but the War ended before he was physically able to return. A detail of union soldiers were sent up from Mobile to arrest him because he had not been properly surrendered and mustered out. His grandson (by the same name) told me that his grandfather was surrendered and paroled in the parlor of his home in St. Stephens.
      He was a prolific letter writer and he asked his sister Jane, to save them and she did. Though these letters have borne the elements of time, most of them survived in relatively good condition. Porter also began a Journal of his war years and that is included in my book as well.
      They were sent to "someone" in Hollywood in 1934 (36?) when Gone With the Wind was released to see if anyone there might have an interest in them at a time when the WBTS was popular. Nothing happened, but the letters did find their way back to St. Stephens, Al.  Then in the 1950's a University of Alabama student thought she would do something with Ben Porter's letters and took them off; but nothing came of this either, but thank God the family got the letters back.
      Porter saw action at Seven Pines, Gaines Mill, Fredericksburg, Salem Church, Wilderness, Harper's Ferry, months on end around Richmond, Petersburg, Spotsylvania Court House, North Anna River, the Crater, Reams Station, Sharpsburg.
      Although the 11th was in the Battle of Gettysburg, Benjamin Franklin Porter was not there; he was in the hospital and missed that critical engagement. He tells of his company's losses and regrets having missed being there to help. It would have been great to have had an eyewitness account of that high water mark, along with the others, but then perhaps we'd not have very many letters of Porter's had he been in the engagement.
      Ben Porter writes of  the cold Virginia snows to a south Alabama boy; homesickness, being unable to stop and comfort a comrade in the thick of battle, losing mess mates to sickness and enemy fire, being a part of the great revival that swept through Lee's army, the horror of seeing deserters shot, living for days on parched corn, wanting news from home, concern for his family's welfare, seeing Robert E. Lee. Confidence in the Cause exudes from Porter's writing. In one letter, he writes, "We have never given up a position except on orders." He writes over and over of the rightness of Southern independence.
      These letters are as close as you and I in this century can get to the front lines of that War. They speak to the integrity and honor and admirable character of "Lee's Invincibles."  I used the originals and collated them at least 4 times, (some required more) to make sure my manuscript reflects B. F. Porters letters exactly has he wrote them: nothing added, deleted or altered in any way. These are his words only.
      I have read them many times and each time I see something I missed in previous readings. And each time I close the book, I am  just a bit prouder to be a descendant of Confederate veterans like Benjamin Franklin Porter.
      I sell Prey For Us All for $19 which includes postage and handling.
      Ellen Williams
      1730 Carson Road
      Leroy, Al  36548        jeffersondavis@...
      The front cover of the book is an actual photograph of B.F. Porter's Confederate headstone. The back cover is his company (not regimental) flag, housed in the Alabama Department of Archives and History in Montgomery. It was returned to Alabama from a family in Virginia in 1953.

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