Today in History:

30 Series I Volume V- Serial 5 - West Virginia

Page 30 OPERATIONS IN MD., N. VA., AND W. VA. Chapter XIV.


Immediately after I was placed in command of the Division of the Potomac, I appointed Colonel Andrew Porter, Sixteenth U. S. Infantry, provost-marshal of Washington. All the available regular infantry, a battery, and a squadron of cavalry were placed under his command, and by his energetic action he soon corrected the serious evils which existed and restored order in the city.

When the army was about to take the field General Porter was appointed provost-marshal-general of the Army of the Potomac, and held that most important position until the end of the Peninsular campaign, when sickness, contracted in the untiring discharge of his duties, compelled him to ask to be relieved from the position he had so ably and energetically filled.

The provost-marshal-general's department had the charge of a class of duties which had not before in our service been defined and grouped under the management of a special department. The following subjects indicate the sphere of this department:

Suppression of marauding and depredations, and of all brawls and disturbances, preservation of good order, and suppression of disturbances beyond the limits of the camps.

Prevention of straggling on the march.

Suppression of gambling-houses, drinking-houses, or bar-rooms, and brothels.

Regulation of hotels, taverns, markets, and places of public amusement.

Regulation of hotels, taverns, markets, and places of public amusement.

Searches, seizures, and arrests. Execution of sentences of general courts-martial involving imprisonment or capital punishment. Enforcement of orders prohibiting the sale of intoxicating liquors, whether by tradesmen or sutlers, and of orders respecting passes.

Deserters from the enemy.

Prisoners of war taken from the enemy.

Countersigning safeguards.

Passes to citizens within the lines and for purposes of trade.

Complaints of citizens as to the conduct of the soldiers.

General Porter was assisted by the following-named officers:

Major W. H. Wood, Seventeenth U. S. Infantry; Captain James McMillan, acting assistant adjutant-general, Seventeenth U. S. Infantry; Captain W. T. Gentry, Seventeenth U. S. Infantry; Captain J. W. Forsyth, Eighteenth U. S. Infantry; Lieutenant J. W. Jones, Twelfth U. S. Infantry; Lieutenant C. F. Trowbridge, Sixteenth U. S. Infantry; and Lieutenant C. D. Mehaffey, First U. S. Infantry.

The provost guard was composed of the Second U. S. Cavalry, Major Pleasonton, and a battalion of the Eighth and Seventeenth U. S. Infantry, Major Willard. After General Porter was relieved Major Wood was in charge of this department until after the battle of Antietam, when Brigadier-General Patrick was appointed provost-marshal-general.


When the army took the field, for the purpose of securing order and regularity in the camp of headquarters and facilitating its movements, the office of commandant of general headquarters was created, and assigned to Major G. O. Haller, Seventh U. S. Infantry. Six companies of infantry were placed under his orders for guard and police duty. Among the orders appended to this report is the one defining his duties, which were always satisfactorily performed.


From August, 1861, the position of judge-advocate was held by Colonel

Page 30 OPERATIONS IN MD., N. VA., AND W. VA. Chapter XIV.