GENERAL HORACE PORTER, CIVIL WAR HERO, PRESIDENTIAL ADVISOR, AND DIPLOMAT


The subject of this cabinet card was a victim of mistaken identity. The gentleman in this image was identified as the ninth Governor of the state of Pennsylvania, David R. Porter. The previous owner of this photograph made the identification. After I purchased the card, I did some research and learned that David Porter was born in 1788 and died in 1867. The style of this photograph originated long after Porter’s death and I became upset at myself for beginning the identity confirmation process after paying for the photograph rather than before making the purchase. I had violated one of my basic rules for purchasing photographs of famous people. Fortunately, this story has a happy ending. Further research determined that the subject of the photograph is actually David Porter’s son, Horace Porter, who also was quite an accomplished man. The reverse of the photograph has an inscription “Amb. Porter” and this was the lead I followed to make the correct identity. The whole process was a bit of an emotional roller coaster. I went from feeling foolish, as well as angry at the previous owner’s unintentional incorrect identification; to feeling happy about identifying the subject as a man who played an integral part in American history. Horace Porter (1837-1921) is most well known for his activities during the civil war. He served as a Lieutenant Colonel, Ordnance Officer, and Staff Officer in the Union Army. In 1866 he was appointed brevet Brigadier General in the U. S. Army. He was also personal secretary to General and President Ulysses S. Grant and to General William Sherman. Later, he was the Vice President of th Pullman Palace Car Company and the United States ambassador to France (1897-1905). Horace Porter was born in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania. As stated earlier, he was the son of David R. Porter who who served as Pennsylvania’s Governor. His cousin, Andrew Porter was a Mexican-American War veteran and Union Army Brigadier General. Horace Porter was educated at Harvard University and graduated from West Point in 1860. He was distinguished in the Battle of Fort Pulaski (Georgia), Chickamauga, the Battle of the Wilderness, and New Market Heights. He received the Medal of Honor for his efforts at Chickamauga. He later wrote a memoir “Campaigning With Grant” (1897). The name of the photographer of this image is uncertain. It is difficult to decipher his printed name on the bottom of this photograph.  Owners of other images produced by this photographer refer to him as “Pessford”.  The script on the photograph could also be interpreted as “Bessford”.  There was a photographer in Hudson, Wisconsin listed by the 1880 census as James Bessford, but no evidence could be found linking him to this photograph. POSTNOTE: The photographer has been identified by a cabinet card gallery visitor as Joseph G. Gessford. Check out this entry’s comment section for the visitor’s informative and interesting  contribution.

PRETTY WOMAN LACED IN ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI (CIVIL WAR HERO PHOTOGRAPHER)

The attractive woman in this cabinet card is adorned with a lace cap and lace collar. Her outfit is a bit unusual but she would look beautiful no matter what she was wearing. The photographer of this image was F. W. Guerin, and his studio was located at 627 Olive Street, St. Louis, Missouri. Guerin received a medal for his work at the World Exposition in Paris (1878) and was similarly honored at the St. Louis Worlds Fair (1904). Fitz W. Guerin (1846-1903) was an excellent photographer but he was also a hero during the American Civil War. He was a recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor. Guerin was a private in Battery A, 1st Missouri Volunteer Light Artillery. His citation states that along with two of his comrades, he voluntarily took a position aboard the steamer, Cheeseman, in which he took charge of all the guns and ammunition. He took this role while the steamer was unmanageable and under heavy enemy fire. After the war he became an apprentice photographer and later had a successful career photographing the well-to-do citizens of St. Louis. Guerin took many wonderfully posed photographs of beautiful women; he seems to have had an eye for the ladies.