Portus H. Brown
Source: Manistique Pioneer Tribune, August 1928.
Transcribed by Larry Peterson
Portus H. Brown, Civil War Vet, Recalls Early History. Saw First Boat Pull Into Manistique 55 Years Ago; Fought Duel During War; National Paper Gives Account of Regiment.
Portus H. Brown, 87 years old and one of the few remaining veterans of the Civil war, has received a copy of the National Tribune which gives an interesting account of his regiment, the 5th New Hampshire. Mr. Brown has been a resident of Manistique for 55 years and his memories of the early days here are filled with thrills. It was fifty-five years ago that Mr. Brown saw the first vessel enter the local harbor.
One newspaper clipping that Mr. Brown has always saved tells of one close call while in the service and reads as follows: Portus H. Brown, Sergeant, Co. B. 5th N.H., Manistique, Mich., was in about all the battles fought by the Second Corps. While stationed in Harpers Ferry after the battle of Antietam two out of each company in his regiment were mounted and sent down the valley on detached duty. Near Kelly's Ford he and his "buddy" had fallen behind and were cut off by three rebel cavalrymen. They got in an old mill and a stiff duel ensued in which they chased the rebels away with one of the reb's horses riderless.
The National Tribune carries the following interesting account of Mr. Brown's regiment: . . . The premier regiment in all the other 2000 regiments of the Union Army was the 5th N. H. This one stands at the head of the list as the one having the most killed in battle and the most continuous fighting of any other regiment. The regiment was organized at Concord, N. H., Oct. 22, 1861, for three years. The regiment was under Col. Edward Cross, who had an appetite for fighting unequaled among his colleagues. Its first fight was Fair Oaks, where it lost 33 killed, and had followed it up by being at the fiery front in every battle in which the Army of the Potomac was engaged until Gettysburg, where its superb commander was killed, and succeeded by a man who had enlisted, and eary in his service was a Second Lieutenant, Welcome A. Crafts.
At Fredericksburg it lost 51 killed and 69 wounded at the ill-fated battle of Cold Harbor. The Scotch were probably the best fighters of any nation in the world. Whether they fought so well was due to their Scotch ancestors or their rigid Presbyterianism. It is a question of doubt, but the 5th N. H. certainly had the fighting spirit to excess. It suffered severely at the battle of Farmville, Va., which broke the backbone of Lee's Army and where out of its deminishing ranks it lost 20 killed. Altogether, it lost in battle, 295 killed, etc. The total of killed and wounded was 1,051, or more than the strength with which it had been mustered. It was a wonderful regiment and has a record standing higher than that of any other infantry regiment. Twenty officers were killed or died of wounds.
[Portus Brown was a resident of Doyle Township. He is buried in the Veteran's Lot at Lakeview Cemetery in Manistique, MI.]