FITZ JOHN PORTER - Civil War Hero or Coward?

The 2011 Fitz John Porter exhibit at Strawbery Banke featured rare and unusual objects surrounding Porter life to examine the impact of partisan politics, government, and misrepresentation on Porter's illustrious career and subsequent downfall during the Civil War. Strawbery Banke Museum was one of the first to launch New Hampshire's commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War.

Major General Fitz John Porter, born in Portsmouth on Livermore Street (two blocks from the Museum), was involved in one of the most infamous scandals of the Civil War. Porter - a distinguished military strategist - fought for the Union in the Army of Virginia, under General John Pope at the Second Battle of Bull Run. A conflicting series of events led to the Union's loss there and ultimately led to Porter's court martial for insubordination and dismissal from the army. Porter spent the remainder of his life fighting for vindication in a very public and political battle.

Strawbery Banke Museum commemorated the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War with the exhibit and these special events:

  • Wreath-Laying at Maj. Gen. Fitz John Porter statue, Haven Park, Portsmouth. Aug 6. Visit by the RE/Max hot air balloon in commemoration of Porter's Civil War aerial surveillance by balloon -- depicted on the statue and detailed in the Porter exhibit with his field glasses.
  • Civil War Encampment - August 20-21. Celebrating Porter's birthday with an encampment of New Hampshire 2nd Volunteer Regiment Civil War reenactors, musicians, costumed interpreters and special readings. Click here to view the schedule from the New Hampshire 2nd Volunteer Regiment.
  • Daily Walking Tours: Porter's Portsmouth Boyhood, 1822-1830 and Civil War Portsmouth. Click here for the self-guided tour map.
  • Lecture and Music Series:
    • September 25, Dr. Rick Schubart, Bates-Russell Distinguished Faculty Professor, Phillips Exeter Academy and scholar of early American and Civil War history, “Abraham Lincoln in New Hampshire”
    • October 2, Richard Spicer, conductor, historian and educator at Boston Conservatory and Tufts University; founder and Music Director of Columbia’s Musick: Echoes of the Early Republic, “Battle and Boredom, Parade and Serenade: New Hampshire’s Third Regiment and Hilton Head Post Bands In Civil War South Carolina”
    • October 16, Professor J. William Harris, Department of History, University of New Hampshire, Durham and author of Deep Souths (2001) and The Hanging of Thomas Jeremiah (2009), “Abraham Lincoln and His Generals”
    • October 23, Dr. Brent Glass, Director Emeritus of the National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution, "Public Memory in America from the Civil War to 9/11."
    • October 30, Col. Frederic L. Borch III, Regimental Historian and Archivist, Judge Advocate General Corps, U.S. Army, and author of Judge Advocates in Combat (2001) and Geneva Conventions (2010), "Were they guilty or innocent?  Were the legal proceedings fair?  The Trial of the Lincoln Assassination Conspirators by Military Commission in 1865"

This exhibition was made possible by: The Roger R. and Theresa S. Thompson Endowment Fund, the Putnam Foundation, the New Hampshire Humanities Council, the Joint Promotional Program of the New Hampshire Department of Resources and Economic Development, Steve and Julia Roberts, Historical Arms, Blue Tree Publishing, University of New Hampshire - Office of the Provost, Salem State University, Phillips Exeter Academy, the Portsmouth Athenaeum, the Portsmouth Historical Society, the Hampton Historical Society, New Hampshire Civil War Roundtable, National Battlefield Parks: Fredericksburg and Manassas, and the United States Military Academy at West Point, and the Massachusetts Historical Society.