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Edward Porter Alexander, pictured here, was most important Confederate officers in the Army of Northern Virginia. The West Point graduate, class of 1857, was present in the Eastern Theater’s major campaigns,  

During the war, the Georgian served as a signal officer at First Manassas, floated high above the Virginia peninsula in a balloon to observe Union positions in 1862, and then gained command of an artillery battalion in Lt. Gen. James Longstreet’s First Corps. It was as an artillerist that he left his most prominent mark. Alexander placed the deadly Confederate artillery on Marye’s Heights at Fredericksburg and also commanded the artillery barrage that roared before Pickett’s Charge. 

He became Longstreet’s chief of artillery, and became a brigadier general in February 1864, a very high rank for an artillery officer of that era. Alexander also left an outstanding memoir, full of rich detail and anecdotes regarding campaigns, personalities, and operations of the Army of Northern Virginia. That memoir was published in 1989 by noted historian and Civil War Times’ columnist Gary W. Gallagher. Titled “Fighting for the Confederacy: The Personal Recollections of General Edward Porter Alexander,” it stands as one of the entire war’s best participant recollections. It’s not too late to add it to your summer reading list! 

If you have been reading any soldier diaries, letters, or memoirs this summer, send me a note at, and let us know what you have been enjoying! 

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