Facts, information and articles about Porter Alexander, a Civil War General during the American Civil War
Porter Alexander Facts
May 26, 1835 Washington, Georgia
April 28, 1910 Savannah, Georgia
Years Of Service
Second Lieutenant (USA)
Brigadier General (CSA)
American Civil War
Seven Days Battles
Battle of Fredericksburg
Battle of Chancellorsville
Battle of Gettysburg
Siege of Petersburg
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Porter Alexander summary: Edward Porter Alexander was born in Washington, Georgia, the sixth of eight children. He attended United States Military Academy where he also taught fencing and engineering. He took part in weapon experiments as an assistant to Major Albert J. Myer, the inventor of the “wig-wag” signal flags.
Porter Alexander In The Civil War
After hearing of his home state of Georgia seceding, Alexander resigned from the US army to join the Confederate army as a captain of engineers. He was to report to Brigadier General P.G.T. Beauregard in Virginia and became Chief Engineer and Signal Officer of the Army of Potomac. Alexander made history when he was the first to use signal flags, sending messages to Colonel Nathan “Shanks” Evans’ brigade. He signaled ‘they were in danger of being attacked to their left’ at the First Battle of Bull Run. He observed Union Troops movement from where he was stationed on ‘Signal Hill’ in Manassas.
He was later transferred to the Army of Northern Virginia, to whom he served with for the remainder of the Civil War. He served under Johnstons command as chief of ordnance, Alexander also continued with his signal work, gathering intelligence and dealt broadly with spies around Washington, D.C.
After the Peninsula Campaign and the Seven Days Battles, he gained a reputation for his skill and bravery, and his sharp eye for intelligence. In June 1862 at the Battle of Gaines’ Mill, he went up in a hot air balloon providing General Lee with valuable information of the Union position.
In Novenber 1862, Alexander was promoted to colonel, and the following month serving under General James Longstreet he commanded his own artillery battalion. In 1864 he was promoted to Brigadier General. He served with distinction in numerous battles. He returned to Virginia for the remainder of the war.