Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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PORTER, Joshua, physician, born in Lebanon, Connecticut, in 1730; died in Salisbury, Connecticut, 12 September, 1825. He was graduated at Yale in 1754, studied medicine, and practised in Salisbury. He served in the state assembly before the Revolution, and was one of the committee of the pay table, and colonel of state militia. He was agent to superintend the manufacture of the first home-made cannon-balls that were used during the war. At the battle of Saratoga, owing to the scarcity of officers, he led a regiment as a volunteer, and he attended the wounded after the fight. For more than fifty years he held local offices of trust in Connecticut.--His son, Peter Buel, soldier, born in Salisbury, Connecticut, 4 August, 1773 ; died in Niagara Falls, New York, 20 March, 1844, was graduated at Yale in 1791, and, after studying at Litchfield law-school, began practice at Canandaigua, New York, in 1795, and afterward removed to Black Rock, Niagara county. He was elected to congress in 1808 as a Democrat, and as chairman of the committee on foreign relations prepared and introduced the celebrated report in 1811 that recommended war with Great Britain. Upon the opening of hostilities he resigned his seat in congress, and became an active participant in the contest. He declined a general's commission, and subsequently accepted the command of a body of volunteer troops from Pennsylvania and New York, in connection with Indian warriors from the Six Nations. His operations were chiefly in western New York and on the Canada side of the Niagara. When Black Rock, afterward part of Buffalo, fell into the hands of the British in 1813, General Porter's house became the headquarters of the enemy, and he rallied a force and expelled them, mortally wounding Colonel Bishop, the commander. He was engaged in General Alexander Smyth's attempt to invade Canada, and his remarks on its conduct led to a duel between him and Smyth. He exhibited "great personal gallantry" at the battle of Chippewa, and led the volunteers in the successful engagement at Lundy's Lane, 25 July, 1814, where General Scott was in command. At the siege of Fort Erie he led a brilliant sortie. For his military services he received a gold medal from congress, and a sword from the legislature of New York. In 1815 President Madison appointed him commander-in-chief of the army; but he declined, and he served again in congress from December, 1815, till his resignation in the following year. He was one of the earliest projectors of the Erie canal, and was appointed, with Gouverneur Norris and De Witt Clinton, on the commission to explore the route. In 1816 he was appointed a commissioner for determining the northwestern boundary, and in 1828 he was made secretary of war by President Adams. --Peter Buel's grandson, Peter Augustus, soldier, born in Black Rock, New York, in 1827 ; killed in the battle of Cold Harbor, Virginia, 3 June, 1864, was graduated at Harvard in 1845, and subsequently studied in the universities of Heidelberg and Berlin. He was a member of the New York legislature in 1862, and in that year he raised a regiment, afterward consolidated with the 8th New York artillery, was placed in command, and served on garrison duty. When he was offered the nomination for secretary of state of New York on the Republican ticket in 1863, he declined to leave the army. He was ordered to the field in Nay, 1864, participated in the battles of Spottsylvania and Totopotomoy, and fell while storming a breastwork at Cold Harbor.-Peter Buel's nephew, Augustus Steele, senator, born in Canandaigua, New York, 18 January, 1798; died in Niagara Falls, New York, 18 September, 1872, was graduated at Union college in 1818, studied law in Canandaigua, and settled in Black Rock, New York, and afterward in Detroit, Michigan He became mayor of that city in 1836, was elected to the United States senate as a Whig in 1838, served one term, and in 1848 removed to Niagara Falls, New York He was a delegate to the Union convention in 1866.
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