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This Day in Georgia History

April 28, 1910

Edward Porter Alexander Died

Military leader, businessman, and historian Edward Porter Alexander died in Savannah, Georgia. Born May 26 1835, in Washington, Georgia., he decided on a military career early in life, and attended West Point, finishing third in his class in 1857. His U.S. military service was cut short by the Civil War. Alexander, beginning as a captain in the engineering corps and later signal corps, he was promoted to lieutenant colonel as chief of ordnance for the Army of Northern Virginia. In Feb. 1864, Alexander was promoted to brigadier general and served at the battles of Spotsylvania, Cold Harbor, and Petersburg (where he was wounded). After the war Alexander became a railroad executive after briefly teaching at the University of South Carolina. In 1892 he retired to a rice plantation in South Carolina, where began writing for various magazines on a wide variety of subjects. But it was his memoirs of the Civil War that people most wanted to hear, so in 1896, while arbitrating a boundary dispute between Nicaragua and Costa Rica, he began his memoirs. He spent three years in Nicaragua; upon returning home he broadened his memoirs to include a critical analysis of the military strategies used in the Civil War. In 1907 Alexander’s Military Memoirs of a Confederate was published. His objective observations of so many major battles has been a bountiful source of information for historians. But many southerners did not care for the work, because it criticized some of the actions of men such as Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson, who had become folk heroes in the South. Nevertheless Alexander’s Memoirs remains a very important contribution to the history of the Civil War. After his death in Savannah, his body was returned to Augusta, where he was buried in Magnolia Cemetery.