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8th Vermont Infantry

Perry Porter

Perry PorterThree brothers named Porter emigrated from England. One settled in Massachusetts, one in Connecticut and the third in Vermont. It is from the Vermont Branch of the family that the Porters of West Burke are descended. Robert Perry Porter was born in Pomfret and settled in Waterford where he married Abigail Hutchinson. Their son Robert Perry, junior, was born in Waterford, but attended school at East St. Johnsbury. When nine years old his father moved to a farm in Sutton near West Burke, and Robert received his education at St. Johnsbury Academy under Prof. Colby. He was strong and athletic and was a general favorite in the foot ball games on the old plain where the boys dubbed him "Bob". It was his purpose to graduate from the Academy, defraying his expenses by teaching school winters. He taught one term at Newark street, but the next year the war broke out and he enlisted from Sutton in November, 1861. Disliking his nickname he entered the army as Perry Porter, the name by which he is still called and familiarly known. The new recruits were sent to Lunenburg and thence to Brattleboro where they were mustered into the U.S. service January 1, 1862. Perry Porter soon became sergeant of his company (Company K, 8th Vt.) In February, 1862, the regiment started for the front. They went from New York by boat to Ship Island, Miss., being thirty days on the way. Their first engagement was at Bayou des Allemands, La, where Sergt. Porter was taken prisoner. He was sent first to camp Pratt and afterwards confined in the penitentiary at Vicksburg. Some idea of his sufferings may be gained from the fact that while at his capture in September he weighed 170 pounds, upon his exchange the following January he was too weak to stand and weighed only 85 pounds when able to stand on his own feet again. The regiment saw much active service. Mr. Porter was present at the engagement at Bisland and in the two assaults upon Fort Hudson.About this time he was offered a captaincy in a colored regiment, but decided to remain with Company K. He was severely wounded in the second assault upon Fort Hudson June 14, 1863, by a gun shot wound when far inside the enemy's works. While in the hospital he was promoted to 1st sergeant.

In July, 1864, the 8th Vermont was sent to Virginia. Sergeant Porter was again wounded in September at Opequon, but he was in the battle of Cedar Creek, October 19, when Company K , was at the front in the 19th corps which was surprised and almost cut to pieces. By the wounding and death of his superior officers he became 1st lieutenant and was left in command. The last engagement in which he took place was at Newton, Va., in November, 1864.

After the war Mr. Porter returned to Sutton and married Electra V., daughter of Joel Trull, Jr., October 19, 1865, just a year after Cedar Creek. Four children were born to them, Fred T., now a merchant at West Burke; Nellie Aurora, wife of the late Ray Ruggles; David who has recently graduated as a law student and had begun practice at St. Johnsbury and Grace May who died four years ago at the age of seven. Mr. Porter went to Wisconsin in 1867, but returned to Burke in 1874 and engaged in grocery business with F. S. Colbleigh. In 1879 he became connected with the Vermont Lumber Co., and four years after bought the store and business in which, in 1889, he was succeeded by his son. In 1876 he built the pleasant residence near the school house where he now lives.

In a public capacity Perry Porter has served as a member of the republican county committee, as constable and collector for Burke, justice of the peace and from 1886 to 1894 as deputy sheriff. He joined the Baxter Post, G.A.R., of Newport in 1880 and was transferred to D. Rattery Post upon its organization in 1882. At various times he has been it commander, adjutant and officer of the day. He was interested in the building of Grand Army Hall and is now one of its principal owners. In 1895, he was made senior vice commander of the state department, G.A.R., and he is a member of the military order of the Loyal Legion whose headquarters in Vermont are at Burlington. Mr. Porter is a Mason and a member of the Palestine Commandery, K.T. Possessing much energy and business capacity, he had been identified with new enterprises in Burke, while his ability and commanding presence make him a favorite presiding officer at public assemblies. His name stands for progress, both material and social. When asked what will most conduce to the future prosperity of Burke Mr. Porter answered emphatically, "utilize every ounce of water power we have."

Source: 1896 Centennial Edition of the St. Johnsbury Republican: The St. Johnsbury Republican, Burke Centennial Edition, St. Johnsbury, Vermont, Wednesday, July 1, 1896.

Contributed by: Gary W. Davis, Claymont, DE, great-grandson of Martin Warner Davis, Coventry, Captain, Co. D, 6th Vermont Volunteer Infantry