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Horace Porter Collection

Identifier: GTM-GAMMS249

Collection-level Scope and Content Note

The Horace Porter Collection consists of 13.0 linear feet of photographs, manuscripts, letters, clippings, prints, and printed ephemera, together with a large assortment of valuable artifacts connected with General Porter's career. Porter, best known for his role as aide-de-camp to General Ulysses S. Grant during the Civil War, was a noted soldier, railroad executive, diplomat, and son of Governor David Rittenhouse Porter (1788-1867) of Pennsylvania. The collection includes a variety of materials. From the Civil War period there are four printed notifications in 1865 of Porter's promotions through the ranks, together with the printed General Order No. 144, 4 April 1864, which mentions Porter's becoming an aide-de-camp to Grant. There is also a file of facsimile documents printed about Robert E. Lee's surrender for the 1893 Annual Banquet commemorating the birth of Grant. Perhaps one of the most interesting manuscripts is an original poem entitled "An Application for Office - New Style . . . Respectfully Inscribed to President Grant by J. M. Dalzell, late Private 116 Ohio Vol. Infantry." The collection contains photographs of Brigadier General Quincy Adams Gillmore, Grant and his staff at Lookout Mountain taken in 1863 after the battle (photo by A. W. Judd), the table at Appomattox at which Grant wrote the terms of surrender, and Horace Porter himself. There are some dozen awards and certificates of membership in organizations made out to Porter. Moreover, there are menus of dinners in his honor. The majority of correspondence is to and from Porter's grandson, Horace Porter Mende of Switzerland. The correspondence generally concerns Porter artifacts and the donation of some of these to various institutions. There is some material about Governor David Rittenhouse Porter and his father Andrew Porter. The artifacts among the collection are mainly medals, decorations, and awards, together with some of Porter's military attire. On the whole, the Horace Porter Collection documents tangibly and intangibly the life and career of this important figure in American history.

The Georgetown University Library Special Collections Division also preserves the McHarg Family Papers, which document the Civil War experiences of the family of Horace Porter's wife, Sophie K. McHarg, and include several letters written by Porter. Other Civil War collections found in Georgetown University Special Collections include the Byington Family Papers, the David Rankin Barbee Papers, the E. H. Swaim Collection, the Margaret Bearden Papers, the Julius P. Garesche Papers, the Helen King Boyer Collection, and the Ord Family Papers, among others.

Note: Objects described in Box 12 are located in the Booth Family Center for Special Collections office display cabinet. Consult Manuscripts Librarian for access.


  • 1855 - 1921

Collection-level Access Restrictions

Most manuscripts collections at the Georgetown University Booth Family Center for Special Collections are open to researchers; however, restrictions may apply to some collections. Collections stored off site require a minimum of three days for retrieval. For use of all manuscripts collections, researchers are advised to contact the Booth Family Center for Special Collections in advance of any visit.

Biographical note

Horace Porter (1827-1921) is remembered as a staff officer and biographer of General Ulysses S. Grant. Born on April 15, 1837, in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania, the son of Governor David Rittenhouse Porter (1788-1867) and Josephine (McDermet) Porter, Horace Porter graduated from West Point in 1860. At the outset of the Civil War, Porter was a brevet second lieutenant in the ordnance department. Receiving promotions for his service, he advanced in the ordnance department, seeing duty on the South Carolina coast and then during the Peninsular Campaign. Later, during the battle of Chickamauga, as ordnance chief for the Army of the Cumberland, Porter regrouped a broken line and bought time for retreat. For that action he was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor in 1902. After impressing Grant during the Chattanooga Campaign, Porter joined Grant's staff as aide-de-camp on April 4, 1864. He was breveted for Fort Pulaski, the Wilderness, New Market Heights, and war service (Brigadier General). Porter remained in the army after the Civil War, continuing as an aide to Grant and General William T. Sherman until resigning in 1873. Entering civilian life, Porter pursued the career of railroad official. In 1897, his book "Campaigning With Grant" was published. From 1897 until 1905, Porter held the post of U.S. Ambassador to France.


Sifakis, Stewart. "Who Was Who in the Civil War." New York: Facts on File Publications, 1988, p. 516.

Mende, Elsie Porter. "An American Soldier and Diplomat: Horace Porter." New York: Frederick A. Stokes Company, 1928. First edition. With a presentation inscription from the author to a family member, Edwin Mende.

Porter, Horace. "Campaigning With Grant." New York: Century Co., 1897.


13 Linear Feet (11 boxes)

Language of Materials


Horace Porter Collection
Scott S. Taylor. Georgetown University Library Booth Family Center for Special Collections
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Georgetown University Manuscripts Repository

Lauinger Library, 5th Floor
37th and O Streets, N.W.
Washington DC 20057