War letters of Benjamin Franklin Porter, 11th Alabama.
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Sent: Monday, March 12, 2007 11:56 AM
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 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
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
I sell Prey For Us All for $19 which includes postage and handling.
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
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