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A BRAVE SOLDIER, A TRUE PATRIOT, A NOBLE MAN
TO THE PAPER WHICH JUDGE-ADVOCATE HOLT FURNISHED
TO THE PRESIDENT, URGING GENERAL
[It will be remembered by the public, that after the Court-Martial had made up their
NOTE.-The references to the evidence, etc., are to the Record of the trial, as published by order of the House of Representatives.-Ex. Doc. No. 71. Thirty-seventh Congress, third Session.
The preparation of this Reply was de- ! those of his brothers in arms, who, belayed until a printed copy of the Recording themselves worthy of their noble proin the case of Major-General Fitz-John fession, saw, without envy, every manifesta
tion of his skill and gallantry, and rejoiced Porter was obtained, and since, by pro-at it as enhancing the reputation of the fessional engagements, which the writer service, and giving the assurance that a was not at liberty to set aside. It is now patriotic soldiery led, as Porter led his submitted in the confidence that the in- men, could not fail to extinguish the retelligent and impartial reader will coïn bellion, restore the people to their former cide in opinion with the writer, that a Government in its rightful authority, and
happiness and prosperity, reïnstate the greater injustice was never done through give it a name with the nations of the the forms of a judicial proceeding, than world, even brighter and more commandwas done by the sentence of the Court- ing than it had ever possessed.
The high Martial in the case of that gallant officer. esteem in which, in common with all, the
writer held Porter, was, if possible, inBALTIMORE, July, 1863.
creased after he became his counsel. And To vindicate a citizen unjustly assailed, to that esteem was then soon added the is the duty of all men who properly esti- closer and even stronger ties of personal mate the value of individual character and friendship. For weeks, seeing him almost its influence on the public good. The du- constantly, not only in the Court by whom ty is the more imperative, if the services his case was tried, but in private consultaof such citizen have contributed to the tion, he had every opportunity of becoming honor of his country, and have been ren- acquainted with the man, and as far as he dered with great toil and solicitude, and is capable of judging, with the officer. He amidst frequent and imminent perils. To witnessed in the former that freedom from this general obligation in the instance vanity, that mildness of disposition with which causes this paper, there is with the that firmness of purpose which are often writer superinduced the special one grow- united, and a strong sense of honor that ing out of the professional relation in which won for him his highest regard, and in the he has heretofore stood to the officer whose latter a devotion to his profession, a percase forms its subject. His first personal fect acquaintance with all the conflicts in acquaintance with Major-General Fitz- which he had been engaged, a cheerful John Porter was, when he became one of readiness in rendering honor where honor his counsel on his recent trial. Before was due, a mildness of censure where he then, he knew him only, (and who did not thought errors had been committed, an arso know him who has followed the history dent love of country, and a confident conof our sad civil war ?) as a patriotic, skillful sciousness of innocence of the charges and gallant officer, giving his days and which he was to answer, which, indepennights to duty, ever discharging it to its dent of all other evidence, satisfied him that fullest measure, and on all occasions an- snch charges were in every particular wholswering the highest expectations of his su- ly unfounded. perior officers, his friends and country. In When the evidence was all given, he rehis hands the military service had not only grets to be compelled to say, that he was suffered no dishonor, but had attained even further satisfied that they were as malihigher distinction. He had achieved for cious as unfounded. But, though then, himself a name of which the nation was and still so convinced, he would justly proud, and a reputation amongst all have deemed it necessary to bring his case
again before the public in the form of a debate in that body at its recent session. vindication, notwithstanding the sentence On a motion calling for the Record for of the Court affirming their truth, but for the purpose of publication-Mr. Fessenden the reasons he is about to give. A de- objected, because, as he stated, the Record fense was made before the sentence was had already been printed, a copy of it pronounced, and by all who heard it, or having been sent to him, (by whom sent he who have since read it, a: defense consid- did not say, because he did not know,) but ered as triumphant and unanswerable. So doubtless. by Roberts, or by his direction. universal was this opinion, that when the Even by so discerning a gentleman and evidence and the defense had been seen, accomplished a lawyer as Fessenden, the an acquittal was anticipated with undoubt- fraud of the publication was not discoving confidence. So great and general was ered: that confidence, that never in the history of jurisprudence, civil, criminal, or military,
II. The rulings of the Court, (which for was a judgment announced that so shocked obvious reasons could not be commented and startled the sense of public justice. In upon in the defense,) on questions of the speaking of the ability of the defense, the admissibility of evidence in some instances, undersigned but pays a just tribute to his and as the undersigned believes in all, associate counsel, Mr. Charles Eames, by were so palpably erroneous, and so injuriwhom it was, in every thing deserving ous to Porter, that they foreshadowed in praise, exclusively prepared. But what oe colors too striking to be mistaken, the recurred without the knowledge of General sult to which a majority of the Court would Porter, or his counsel, whilst the case was
arrive. These errors were so apparent as progressing, and in the Court, whilst the to excite the surprise, and incur the cenevidence was being given, and at the close sure, as the writer knew at the time, of of the reading of the defense, and what has distinguished Judges, and members of the since occurred has rendered it proper, in bar without an exception, unless the Judgethe opinion of the writer, that the pub- that he was, especially as on more than
It is not meant to say lic judgment should be again invoked. Upon various grounds, it is not less due to one occasion, he himself intimated the error Porter, and to truth-than to the good of and induced the Court to correct it. the military service, and to the confidence III. When the evidence was all introso materiál to that good which is to be duced, the counsel of Porter requested to placed in future military judgments, that have until the following Monday to prethe attention of the public mind should be pare the defense, but the Court suggested, once more invited. The grounds referred because of other pressing engagements of to are these:
some of the members, the following Satur
day. This suggestion was agreed to by I. Pending the trial, the evidence of the counsel with the understanding, sancthree of the leading witnesses of the prose- tioned by the Court, that if the Judgecution, Major-General Pope, Brigadier-Advocate replied, the counsel should have General Roberts, and Lieutenant-Colonel the right to rejoin. Whether he would Thomas C. H. Smith, was secretly and reply or not, that officer declined to say. anonymously published in Washington, in The Court was then cleared, no one repamphlet form, with a title-page which, as maining with them but the Judge-Advoevidently intended, would lead the reader cate. The evidence was, it is said, read to suppose that it contained either all the over, doubtless commented upon by all, evidence in the case, or that the evidence and from the celerity with which the senthat it did contain was in no particular re- tence followed the reading of the defense, butted by other proof. Porter has since even charity can not but believe, that it discovered that the cost of this publication was determined upon before a word of the was paid by Smith, and that Roberts trans- defense was heard. The defense was read mitted copies to persons in several of the on Saturday, the tenth of January, 1863, Northern States, and as believed, to many and the moment it was concluded, which members of the Senate of the United was about half-past two o'clock p.M., the States, a fact disclosed in part in a short | Judge-Advocatē said, orally, that he did