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Their Country's Call: The Byington, McHarg, and Porter Families in War and Peace

Howard W. Gunlocke Rare Book and Special Collections Room
June 4, 2001
August 31, 2001


This exhibition highlights the contributions of three families which count among their members individuals who served America in various capacities in war and in peace. Whether that service was expressed through distinguished duty during the Civil War or through dedicated foreign service careers, the heroes of the Byington, McHarg, and Porter families embody many American ideals. They heard their country's call. The three families are related by marriage. They also are united in their devotion to service which is so characteristic of the American spirit.

The exhibit features selections from the Byington Family Papers (1, 2, 3), which were donated to Georgetown University Library by Dr. and Mrs. Lawrence E. Hinkle. The collection consists of the papers of A. Homer Byington (1826-1910), his grandson Homer Morrison Byington I (1879-1966), and Homer Morrison Byington II (1908-1987). A. Homer Byington made a name for himself as a journalist from Norwalk, Connecticut. He became a friend of Abraham Lincoln, especially during the Civil War. Well known for being the first to deliver the news of the outcome of the battle of Gettysburg, he later held the post of U.S. consul in Naples (1897-1907). Homer M. Byington I served for forty-seven years in the foreign service, rising to the office of chief of personnel in the 1930s. Homer Morrison Byington II (1908-1987), the son of Homer Morrison Byington I, enjoyed a forty-year foreign service career. It was Homer Morrison Byington II who married Jane McHarg, thus linking two of the distinguished families honored in this exhibition.

The items on display relating to A. Homer Byington focus on his relationship with Lincoln during the Civil War, his role in reporting the news of the Union victory at Gettysburg, and his tenure as U.S. consul in Naples. In addition, selected items document the foreign service careers of Homer Morrison Byington I and Homer Morrison Byington II. These members of the Byington family answered the call to serve their nation, albeit in different eras and in different capacities.

The McHarg family is the second family remembered in this exhibit. Just like A. Homer Byington, several McHargs contributed to the Union cause during the Civil War. The documents presented come primarily from the McHarg Family Papers (1, 2), a gift of Mr. Homer M. Byington III, which provide primary source documentation on two important episodes in American history: the Civil War and the development of the national pastime, baseball.

The McHarg family materials on display begin with Civil War letters exchanged among several family members. Among the topics covered are reports of skirmishes and Union activities near Hall's Hill (in present-day Arlington County), Virginia; the siege of Yorktown, Virginia; and news from the McHargs' hometown of Albany, New York. Among the correspondents are quartermaster John McHarg (1813-1884); his son and future financier Henry K. McHarg (1851-1941); and distinguished Union officer Horace Porter (1837-1921), who married John's daughter Sophie King McHarg (1840-1903) during the war in 1863. As an interesting sidelight, the exhibit also shows five fascinating letters bearing Civil War dates sent to Henry K. McHarg about the development of baseball.

The aforementioned Horace Porter stands as the representative of the Porter family in this exhibition. The Horace Porter Collection, a gift of Mrs. Horace Porter Mende, consists of letters, manuscripts, clippings, prints, photographs, muniments, and artifacts connected to the career of Horace Porter (1837-1921), who was best-known as aide-de-camp and biographer of General Ulysses S. Grant. On display in this exhibit are materials relating to Porter's days at West Point, his prominent role in battles at Fort Pulaski and Chickamauga, his experiences campaigning with Grant, his postwar honors, and his service as U.S. Ambassador to France. Porter epitomized these three families' devotion to service in war and peace at home and abroad.

Scott S. Taylor
Manuscripts Processor
Georgetown University Library
Special Collections and Archives

 

Daguerreotype of Horace Porter at West Point
circa 1855

Reproduction [Original in Horace Porter Collection, Box 4 Folder 12].

Civil War Correspondent
Byington, A. Homer (1826-1910)

Manuscript Notes Regarding Abraham Lincoln, 3 p, nd. [Byington Family Papers, Box 2 Folder 8].

Autograph Letter Signed, Hall's Hill, Virginia
John William McHarg (b.1843)
November 19, 1861

Addressed to his brother Henry K. McHarg. Mentions a review the next day by General George B. McClellan of over 40,000 troops. [McHarg Family Papers, Box 1 Folder 2].

Autograph Letter Signed, Fort Welles, Port Royal, South Carolina
Horace Porter (1837-1921)
November 30, 1861

Addressed to his brother-in-law Henry K. McHarg. Describes how the Confederates were abandoning their forts in South Carolina. [McHarg Family Papers, Box 1 Folder 4].

Sword and Scabbard

Much used. Most likely Horace Porter's working sword during the Civil War. [Horace Porter Collection, Box 12 Folder 4].

Autograph Letter Signed, Hall's Hill, Virginia
John McHarg (1813-1884)
December 5, 1861

Addressed to his brother Rufus McHarg. Mentions Union army activity around Falls Church, Virginia. Includes comment that as the army advances, emancipation follows. [McHarg Family Papers, Box 1 Folder 5].

Autograph Letter Signed, Tybee Island, Georgia
Horace Porter (1837-1921)
January 16, 1862

Addressed to his brother-in-law Henry K. McHarg. Reports on his activities fighting the Confederates in Georgia. Porter hopes Henry is a member of the juvenile Zouave company. [McHarg Family Papers, Box 1 Folder 11].

An American Soldier and Diplomat: Horace Porter
Mende, Elsie Porter
New York: Frederick A. Stokes Company
1927

[call#: LAU SPCOLL General 96A155].

Autograph Letter Signed, Albany, New York
Henry K. McHarg (1851-1941)
January 16, 1862

Addressed to his brother John William McHarg. Includes drawing in pen of John's horse. [McHarg Family Papers, Box 1 Folder 10].

Autograph Letter, Halls' Hill, Virginia
John McHarg (1813-1884)
n/d

[Arlington House]

Addressed to his brother Rufus McHarg. Includes lengthy description of Robert E. Lee's former home Arlington House being used as a depot for quarter master stores except clothing and tents. [McHarg Family Papers, Box 1 Folder 12].

Photograph of Arlington House
Photo by Bell & Bro., Washington, D.C.

[John Gilmary Shea Papers, Box 26 Folder 6.5]

Autograph Letter Signed, Hall's Hill, Virginia
John McHarg (1813-1884)
March 2, 1862

Addressed to his brother Rufus McHarg. Reports on preparations for a march. Reference to Nathaniel P. Banks, Harpers Ferry (Virginia), Manassas (Virginia), and George B. McClellan. [McHarg Family Papers, Box 1 Folder 16].

Autograph Letter Signed, Tybee Island, Georgia
Horace Porter (1837-1921)
March 23, 1862

Addressed to his brother-in-law Henry K. McHarg. Reports on war news. Porter laments the lack of hospital facilities. Reference to Union victories in the West as shortening the war. [McHarg Family Papers, Box 1 Folder 19].

Sword with Ivory Grip and Metal Eagle Pommel (Probably American Made)

Captured from the Confederates at the fall of Fort Pulaski and Presented to Horace Porter. Engraved on the scabbard is the following: "Fort Pulaski April 11th, 1862, Gen. Q. A. Gillmore to Lieut. Horace Porter, For Gallant and Meritorious Conduct." [Horace Porter Collection, Box 12 Folder 2].

Fort Pulaski
May 10, 1862

Provides Newspaper Coverage of the Capture of Fort Pulaski. [Horace Porter Collection, Box 10 Folder 5]

Photograph Providing Side View of the Main Breech in Fort Pulaski
circa 1862

[Horace Porter Collection, Box 9 Folder 5].

Photograph of Quincy Adams Gillmore (1825-1888), United States Army
circa 1861-1865

An Ohio native who graduated at the head of his West Point class of 1849, Gillmore led the Union forces which bombarded Fort Pulaski. [Horace Porter Collection, Box 9 Folder 1].

Autograph Letter Signed, Camp Winfield Scott, near Yorktown, Virginia
John McHarg (1813-1884)
April 19, 1862

Addressed to his brother to Rufus McHarg. Includes description of Union camp near Yorktown and of the siege of Yorktown. The siege of Yorktown began on 5 April 1862, and lasted until 4 May 1862. [McHarg Family Papers, Box 1 Folder 20].

Autograph Letter Signed, Gaines' Mill, 9 miles from Richmond, Virginia
John McHarg (1813-1884)
May 28, 1862

Addressed to his brother Rufus McHarg. Discusses the chances of the Union army reaching Richmond. References to the 25th New York, the 2nd Maine, the 13th New York, Yorktown (Virginia), Elbert Bland, controlling the Richmond Central Railroad, Nathaniel P. Banks, and John McHarg's life insurance policy. [McHarg Family Papers, Box 1 Folder 22].

Autograph Letter Signed, "Camp Refuge," Virginia
John William McHarg (b. 1843)
July 20, 1862

Addressed to his brother Henry K. McHarg. Discusses the Union army's retreat to end the Peninsular Campaign. Discussion of Confederate treatment of prisoners, including Union surgeons. John requests that he be kept abreast of the whereabouts of Horace Porter. Reference to George B. McClellan. [McHarg Family Papers, Box 1 Folder 26].

Cigar Case & One Cigar
General Ulysses S. Grant

Presented by Grant to his secretary, Harmon W. Brown (Private, Co. I 78th Regiment, Ohio Volunteer Infantry) at Oxford, Mississippi, 20 December 1862. [Horace Porter Collection, Box 2 Folder 5]

Photographic Image
Trone, Daniel. Telegrapher
n/d

On verso: "Daniel Trone, Hanover, Pa. Telegrapher, who sent A Homer Byington's account of the Battle of Gettysburg to the tribune, New York, and war department, Washington, D.C." [Byington Family Papers, Box 2 Folder 20].

Autograph Letter Signed, Chattanooga, Tennessee
Horace Porter (1837-1921)
September 27, 1863

Addressed to his brother-in-law Henry K. McHarg. Discusses fighting at Chattanooga, Tennessee. Porter writes that he made it through the battle unscathed though his horse was hit with a bit of shell. Reference to Braxton Bragg and to shotguns stored at Nashville, Tennessee. [McHarg Family Papers, Box 1 Folder 36].

Photograph of Horace Porter and Sophie McHarg

The couple married in 1863.

Reproduced from Elsie Porter Mende's An American Soldier and Diplomat: Horace Porter (New York: Stokes, 1927).

Medal of Honor Presented to Horace Porter

Inscribed, "The Congress to Bvt. Brig. Gen. Horace Porter, U.S.A. Chickamauga, Sept. 20, 1863." [Horace Porter Collection, Box 3 Folder 6].

Photograph of General Ulysses S Grant and Staff on Lookout Mountain

Part of Chattanooga Campaign of October and November 1863. Taken November 1863, after the Battle Above the Clouds. Photo by A. W. Judd. [Horace Porter Collection, Box 9, Folder 2].

Civil War Correspondent
Byington, A. Homer (1826-1910)

Handbill, "The Lincoln Flank Movement on Connecticut: A Letter from Homer Byington, of the Norwalk Gazette, to 'Dear Smith,' of Bridgeport!", 1 p, 25 March 1864. [Byington Family Papers, Box 2 Folder 7].

Commission Promoting Horace Porter to Lieutenant-Colonel as an Aide-de-Camp of General Ulysses S. Grant
April 4, 1864

Signed by Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton. [Horace Porter Collection, Box 9 Folder 9].

Autograph Letter Signed, Albany, New York
C. D. Sheldon
September 26, 1864

Addressed to his friend Henry K. McHarg, Walnut Hill School in Geneva, New York. Provides lengthy discussion of a game played by Sheldon's amateur baseball club, the Hiawathas, against another club, the Alpines. Includes play-by-play accounts of game action. Also includes a detailed, full-length manuscript box score of the game. The Hiawathas won 34-25. Includes reference to another club, the Niagaras. This letter provides outstanding primary source material on the development of baseball. [McHarg Family Papers, Box 1 Folder 40].

Autograph Letter Signed, Albany, New York
C. D. Sheldon
October 9, 1864

Addressed to his friend Henry K. McHarg, Walnut Hill School in Geneva, New York. Discusses recent games of Sheldon's amateur baseball club, the Hiawathas, against the Niagaras and the Alpines. Mentions that the New York Knickerbocker baseball club defeated the Utica baseball club by four runs. [McHarg Family Papers, Box 1 Folder 42].

Autograph Letter Signed, Albany, New York
C. D. Sheldon
October 11, 1864

Addressed to his friend Henry K. McHarg. Provides ample discussion of baseball games played recently by Sheldon's amateur club, the Hiawathas. Includes post-game analysis of a game played against the Niagaras. Contains full length, detailed manuscript box score of game against Niagaras; the Hiawathas won 34-32. Also includes discussion of and detailed manuscript box score from Hiawathas' victory over the Alpines, 32-25. Sent from Albany, New York to Walnut Hill School in Geneva, New York. [McHarg Family Papers, Box 1 Folder 43].

Autograph Letter Signed, Albany, New York
C. D. Sheldon
October 28, 1864

Addressed to his friend Henry McHarg, Walnut Hill School, Geneva, New York.. Discusses the Hiawathas, an amateur baseball club for which Sheldon played. Reference to playing another club, the Niagaras. Discussion of team news. [McHarg Family Papers, Box 1 Folder 46].

Autograph Letter Signed, Albany, New York
C. D. Sheldon
November 16, 1864

Addressed to his friend Henry K. McHarg, Walnut Hill School, Geneva, New York. Makes references to Sheldon's amateur baseball club, the Hiawathas, who were just then ending their season. [McHarg Family Papers, Box 1 Folder 49].

Photograph of Henry K. McHarg (1851-1941)
New York: James T. White
1941

National Cyclopaedia of American Biography. Vol. 29.

Bats, Balls, and Bullets: Baseball and the Civil War
Kirsch, George B
May 1998

Civil War Times Illustrated, p.30-31.

Autograph Letter Signed, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
Horace Porter (1837-1921)
October 26, 1864

Addressed to his brother-in-law Henry K. McHarg. Regarding the birth of Porter's child. Porter mentions that he came from Ulysses S. Grant's headquarters last Monday and will stay with his wife as long as he can. Porter refers to the Union army's drive toward Richmond as awaiting more men provided by the draft. He notes that some southern boys Henry's age were encountered among those defending Confederate forts. [McHarg Family Papers, Box 1 Folder 45].

Copies of Letters Dated 7 April 1865 and 9 April 1865 Sent from Ulysses S. Grant to Robert E. Lee

Immediately before the Surrender at Appomattox. [Horace Porter Collection, Box 9 Folder 8].

Photograph of Table on which General Ulysses S. Grant Drafted the Terms of Surrender for General Robert E. Lee at Appomattox Courthouse
Photo by Pach Bros., Broadway, New York
April 9, 1865

On verso: "Grant wrote terms of surrender at Appomattox on this table, which now belongs to Mrs. Custer. H[orace] P[orter]." [Horace Porter Collection, Box 9 Folder 6].

Commission Promoting Horace Porter to Brigadier General

Signed by Andrew Johnson and Edwin M. Stanton, 1866. [Horace Porter Collection, Box 11 Folder 5].

Civil War Correspondent
Byington, A. Homer (1826-1910)

"Speech of Hon. A. H. Byington." Tributes of Connecticut Citizens, To the Memory of Abraham Lincoln, Late President of the United States. Assassinated April 14, 1865. New Haven: William D. Stanley, Printer, 1865. Printed speech by A. Homer Byington offering a tribute to Lincoln, 17 April 1865. [Byington Family Papers, Box 2 Folder 5].

Civil War Correspondent
Byington, A. Homer (1826-1910)

Autograph Manuscript, "President Lincoln, as I Personally Knew Him", 15 p, nd. [Byington Family Papers, Box 2 Folder 6].

Peaceful Warrior: A Biography of Horace Porter (1837-1921)
Owens, Richard Henry
New York: Garland Pub.
1990

[call#: LAU Stacks E467.1.P82 O84 1990].

Photograph of a Portrait of General Horace Porter

Inscribed, "Horace Porter Mende from Horace Porter." nd. [Horace Porter Collection, Box 9 Folder 4].

Campaigning with Grant
Porter, Horace (1837-1921)
New York : Bonanza Books
c1961

Reprint. Edited with introduction and notes by Wayne C. Temple.

[call#: LAU Stacks E672 .P84 1961b].

Campaigning with Grant
Porter, Horace (1837-1921)
New York : The Century Co.
1897

First Edition

[call#: LAU SPCOLL General 96A156]

Photograph of General Ulysses S. Grant and His Staff
New York: Stokes
1927

Reproduced from Elsie Porter Mende's An American Soldier and Diplomat: Horace Porter

Autograph Manuscript Signed by J. M. Dalzell
Grant, Ulysses S.

"An Application for Office, New Style, A Plea for the Privates, Respectfully Inscribed to President Grant. Dalzell applies for a government position through verse, circa 1868-1876. [Horace Porter Collection, Box 9 Folder 7].

Autograph Letter Signed, 4 p, Washington, D.C.
A. Homer Byington (1826-1910)
July 15, 1876

Addressed to President Ulysses S. Grant. Concerns the position of "Congressional Printer." Includes testimonials from congressmen Bainbridge Wadleigh, Phineas W. Hitchcock, Aaron A. Sargent, Algernon Sidney Paddock, and others. [Byington Family Papers, Box 1 Folder 37].

Autograph Note Signed, 1 p, Washington, D.C.
Orville H. Platt (1827-1905). U.S. Senator
January 14, 1881

Appoints A. Homer Byington Platt's private secretary. [Byington Family Papers, Box 1 Folder 39].

Autograph Letter Signed, New Haven
Nehemiah D. Sperry (1827-1911). U.S. Congressman (1895-1911)
May 23, 1881

Addressed to U.S. Secretary of State James G. Blaine. Endorses the appointment of A. Homer Byington to a consulate. [Byington Family Papers, Box 1 Folder 40].

Typed Letter Signed, 1 p, Meriden, Connecticut
Orville H. Platt (1827-1905). U.S. Senator
June 11, 1895

Discusses a trip to Europe, Ebenezer J. Hill, and railway problems in Norwalk, Connecticut. [Byington Family Papers, Box 1 Folder 39].

Autograph Letter Signed, 2 p, New York
A. Homer Byington (1826-1910)
November 30, 1896

Addressed to his grandson Homer Morrison Byington I (1879-1966), son of George R. Byington. [Byington Family Papers Box 2 Folder 27].

Photograph of General Horace Porter on Horseback in Uniform in the Inaugural Parade of President William McKinley
March 4, 1897

[Horace Porter Collection, Box 9 Folder 3].

Sterling Cup (7" high)

With three stag horn handles, marked May 5th, 1897/ General Horace Porter/ and an engraved portrait of the General. On the bottom is "From Grenville M. Dodge." Grenville Mellen Dodge (1831-1916) was a civil engineer, railroad builder and politician, who had a distinguished military career as both a soldier and engineer during the Civil War. [Horace Porter Collection, Box 12 Folder 5].

Printed Senate Chamber Pass, Washington, D.C.
Orville H. Platt (1827-1905). U.S. Senator
June 14, 1897

Signed by Platt. Admits A. Homer Byington to the Reserved Gallery. [Byington Family Papers, Box 2 Folder 19].

Certificate of Presidential Commission, Washington, D.C.
A. Homer Byington (1826-1910), U.S. Consul, Naples (1897-1907)
July 27, 1897

Issued to Byington as U.S. consul, Naples. Signed by President William McKinley. [Byington Family Papers, Box 3 Folder 3].

Photograph of Horace Porter at Age Sixty Upon His Appointment as U.S. Ambassador to France, 1897
New York: Stokes
1927

Reproduced from Elsie Porter Mende's An American Soldier and Diplomat: Horace Porter

Photo of A. Homer Byington at Banquet for Admiral George Dewey on Occasion of His Visit on Board the "Olympia"
August 6, 1899

[Byington Family Papers, Box 2 Folder 22].

Typed Manuscript Speech
Porter, Horace (1837-1921). U.S. Ambassador to France
n/d

[Horace Porter Collection, Box 9 Folder 11]

Medallion: "Centenaire de la Banque de France 1800-1900" with "General Horace Porter" engraved on verso

[Horace Porter Collection, Box 1 Folder 8]

Typed Letter Signed, 4 p, Naples
A. Homer Byington (1826-1910). U.S. Consul in Naples (1897-1907)
June 29, 1900

Addressed to Edward C. Frisbie. Comments on American domestic politics, with references to Admiral George Dewey, William Jennings Bryan, and Nehemiah D. Sperry. [Byington Family Papers, Box 1 Folder 12].

Medal: Universal Exposition Paris, 1900
1900

[Horace Porter Collection, Box 3 Folder 1].

Decoration: Gold Medal of Liakat (Turkey)

Together with two letters giving the award in 1903 to General Horace Porter. [Horace Porter Collection, Box 2 Folder 1].

Certificate, Medal of Honor Legion (oversized) Awarded to Horace Porter, 1903

Signed by Oliver Otis Howard. [Horace Porter Collection, Box 11 Folder 4].

Medallion: France and United States

On reverse is engraved, "A. Mr. le General H. Porter et a sa famille pour qu'ils le Souviennent d'Avoir ete Parisiens. Paris, Avril 1905." [Horace Porter Collection, Box 4 Folder 7].

Medal & Ribbon, Grand Army of the Republic
October 26, 1905

[Horace Porter Collection, Box 2 Folder 10].

Medallion (silver) with Image of John Paul Jones

In Blue Box of Tiffany & Co. Marked on Lid: "Gen. Horace Porter from the American Scenic & Historic Preservation Society, 1906." [Horace Porter Collection, Box 1 Folder 7].

American Addresses at Second Hague Peace Conference, Delivered by Joseph H. Choate, General Horace Porter, James Brown Scott: ed.
Scott, James Brown (1866-1943), ed
Boston and London, For the International School of Peace: Ginn and Company
1910

[call#: LAU Stacks JX1913.A2 U68]

Obituary of A. Homer Byington
New York Tribune
December 30, 1910

[Byington Family Papers, Box 2 Folder 21]

White House Invitation to Mr. And Mrs. Homer Morrison Byington I (1879-1966)
December 10, 1931

Printed invitation, admission card, presentation card, and envelope for reception given by President and Mrs. Herbert Hoover at the White House. [Byington Family Papers: Box 2, Folder 41].

Photograph of Homer M. Byington I and Homer M. Byington II

Clippings of printed photographs from the American Foreign Service Journal showing classes of the American Foreign Service Training School. Photograph for class of June 1933 includes Homer M. Byington (front row) and his son, Homer Morrison Byington II (second row). Homer Morrison Byington II (1908-1987) married Jane McHarg, thus linking the Byington family with the McHarg family. [Byington Family Papers, Box 2 Folder 51].

Typed Letter Signed (copy), Washington, D.C.
Cordell Hull. Secretary of State
September 30, 1944

Addressed to Homer Morrison Byington I. On occasion of the Byington's retirement from the U.S. Foreign Service. Includes typed copy of Byington's reply. [Byington Family Papers, Box 2 Folder 35].

Time

Article Regarding Horace Porter's Search for the Body of John Paul Jones, 19 April 1956. [Horace Porter Collection, Box 10 Folder 5].

West Point Diploma of Horace Porter
1860

[Horace Porter Collection, Box 11 Folder 10]