James Longstreet

James Longstreet

Overview
James Longstreet was one of the foremost Confederate
Confederate States Army
The Confederate States Army was the army of the Confederate States of America while the Confederacy existed during the American Civil War. On February 8, 1861, delegates from the seven Deep South states which had already declared their secession from the United States of America adopted the...

 generals of the American Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

 and the principal subordinate to General Robert E. Lee
Robert E. Lee
Robert Edward Lee was a career military officer who is best known for having commanded the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia in the American Civil War....

, who called him his "Old War Horse." He served under Lee as a corps commander for many of the famous battles fought by the Army of Northern Virginia
Army of Northern Virginia
The Army of Northern Virginia was the primary military force of the Confederate States of America in the Eastern Theater of the American Civil War, as well as the primary command structure of the Department of Northern Virginia. It was most often arrayed against the Union Army of the Potomac...

 in the Eastern Theater
Eastern Theater of the American Civil War
The Eastern Theater of the American Civil War included the states of Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania, the District of Columbia, and the coastal fortifications and seaports of North Carolina...

, but also with Gen. Braxton Bragg
Braxton Bragg
Braxton Bragg was a career United States Army officer, and then a general in the Confederate States Army—a principal commander in the Western Theater of the American Civil War and later the military adviser to Confederate President Jefferson Davis.Bragg, a native of North Carolina, was...

 in the Army of Tennessee
Army of Tennessee
The Army of Tennessee was the principal Confederate army operating between the Appalachian Mountains and the Mississippi River during the American Civil War. It was formed in late 1862 and fought until the end of the war in 1865, participating in most of the significant battles in the Western Theater...

 in the Western Theater
Western Theater of the American Civil War
This article presents an overview of major military and naval operations in the Western Theater of the American Civil War.-Theater of operations:...

. Biographer and historian Jeffry D. Wert wrote that "Longstreet ... was the finest corps commander in the Army of Northern Virginia; in fact, he was arguably the best corps commander in the conflict on either side."

Longstreet's talents as a general made significant contributions to the Confederate victories at Second Bull Run
Second Battle of Bull Run
The Second Battle of Bull Run or Second Manassas was fought August 28–30, 1862, as part of the American Civil War. It was the culmination of an offensive campaign waged by Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia against Union Maj. Gen...

, Fredericksburg
Battle of Fredericksburg
The Battle of Fredericksburg was fought December 11–15, 1862, in and around Fredericksburg, Virginia, between General Robert E. Lee's Confederate Army of Northern Virginia and the Union Army of the Potomac, commanded by Maj. Gen. Ambrose E. Burnside...

, and Chickamauga
Battle of Chickamauga
The Battle of Chickamauga, fought September 19–20, 1863, marked the end of a Union offensive in southeastern Tennessee and northwestern Georgia called the Chickamauga Campaign...

, in both offensive and defensive roles.
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Encyclopedia
James Longstreet was one of the foremost Confederate
Confederate States Army
The Confederate States Army was the army of the Confederate States of America while the Confederacy existed during the American Civil War. On February 8, 1861, delegates from the seven Deep South states which had already declared their secession from the United States of America adopted the...

 generals of the American Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

 and the principal subordinate to General Robert E. Lee
Robert E. Lee
Robert Edward Lee was a career military officer who is best known for having commanded the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia in the American Civil War....

, who called him his "Old War Horse." He served under Lee as a corps commander for many of the famous battles fought by the Army of Northern Virginia
Army of Northern Virginia
The Army of Northern Virginia was the primary military force of the Confederate States of America in the Eastern Theater of the American Civil War, as well as the primary command structure of the Department of Northern Virginia. It was most often arrayed against the Union Army of the Potomac...

 in the Eastern Theater
Eastern Theater of the American Civil War
The Eastern Theater of the American Civil War included the states of Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania, the District of Columbia, and the coastal fortifications and seaports of North Carolina...

, but also with Gen. Braxton Bragg
Braxton Bragg
Braxton Bragg was a career United States Army officer, and then a general in the Confederate States Army—a principal commander in the Western Theater of the American Civil War and later the military adviser to Confederate President Jefferson Davis.Bragg, a native of North Carolina, was...

 in the Army of Tennessee
Army of Tennessee
The Army of Tennessee was the principal Confederate army operating between the Appalachian Mountains and the Mississippi River during the American Civil War. It was formed in late 1862 and fought until the end of the war in 1865, participating in most of the significant battles in the Western Theater...

 in the Western Theater
Western Theater of the American Civil War
This article presents an overview of major military and naval operations in the Western Theater of the American Civil War.-Theater of operations:...

. Biographer and historian Jeffry D. Wert wrote that "Longstreet ... was the finest corps commander in the Army of Northern Virginia; in fact, he was arguably the best corps commander in the conflict on either side."

Longstreet's talents as a general made significant contributions to the Confederate victories at Second Bull Run
Second Battle of Bull Run
The Second Battle of Bull Run or Second Manassas was fought August 28–30, 1862, as part of the American Civil War. It was the culmination of an offensive campaign waged by Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia against Union Maj. Gen...

, Fredericksburg
Battle of Fredericksburg
The Battle of Fredericksburg was fought December 11–15, 1862, in and around Fredericksburg, Virginia, between General Robert E. Lee's Confederate Army of Northern Virginia and the Union Army of the Potomac, commanded by Maj. Gen. Ambrose E. Burnside...

, and Chickamauga
Battle of Chickamauga
The Battle of Chickamauga, fought September 19–20, 1863, marked the end of a Union offensive in southeastern Tennessee and northwestern Georgia called the Chickamauga Campaign...

, in both offensive and defensive roles. He also performed strongly during the Seven Days Battles
Seven Days Battles
The Seven Days Battles was a series of six major battles over the seven days from June 25 to July 1, 1862, near Richmond, Virginia during the American Civil War. Confederate General Robert E. Lee drove the invading Union Army of the Potomac, commanded by Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan, away from...

, the Battle of Antietam
Battle of Antietam
The Battle of Antietam , fought on September 17, 1862, near Sharpsburg, Maryland, and Antietam Creek, as part of the Maryland Campaign, was the first major battle in the American Civil War to take place on Northern soil. It was the bloodiest single-day battle in American history, with about 23,000...

, and until he was seriously wounded, at the Battle of the Wilderness
Battle of the Wilderness
The Battle of the Wilderness, fought May 5–7, 1864, was the first battle of Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant's 1864 Virginia Overland Campaign against Gen. Robert E. Lee and the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia. Both armies suffered heavy casualties, a harbinger of a bloody war of attrition by...

. His performance in semiautonomous command during the Knoxville Campaign
Knoxville Campaign
The Knoxville Campaign was a series of American Civil War battles and maneuvers in East Tennessee during the fall of 1863. Union forces under Maj. Gen. Ambrose Burnside occupied Knoxville, Tennessee, and Confederate forces under Lt. Gen. James Longstreet were detached from Gen...

 resulted in a Confederate defeat. His most controversial service was at the Battle of Gettysburg
Battle of Gettysburg
The Battle of Gettysburg , was fought July 1–3, 1863, in and around the town of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. The battle with the largest number of casualties in the American Civil War, it is often described as the war's turning point. Union Maj. Gen. George Gordon Meade's Army of the Potomac...

, where he disagreed with General Lee on the tactics to be employed and reluctantly supervised the disastrous infantry assault known as Pickett's Charge
Pickett's Charge
Pickett's Charge was an infantry assault ordered by Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee against Maj. Gen. George G. Meade's Union positions on Cemetery Ridge on July 3, 1863, the last day of the Battle of Gettysburg during the American Civil War. Its futility was predicted by the charge's commander,...

.

He enjoyed a successful post-war career working for the U.S. Government as a diplomat, civil servant, and administrator. However, his conversion to the Republican Party
Republican Party (United States)
The Republican Party is one of the two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Democratic Party. Founded by anti-slavery expansion activists in 1854, it is often called the GOP . The party's platform generally reflects American conservatism in the U.S...

 and his cooperation with his old friend, President Ulysses S. Grant
Ulysses S. Grant
Ulysses S. Grant was the 18th President of the United States as well as military commander during the Civil War and post-war Reconstruction periods. Under Grant's command, the Union Army defeated the Confederate military and ended the Confederate States of America...

, as well as critical comments he wrote in his memoirs about General Lee's wartime performance, made him anathema to many of his former Confederate colleagues. Authors of the Lost Cause
Lost Cause of the Confederacy
The Lost Cause is the name commonly given to an American literary and intellectual movement that sought to reconcile the traditional white society of the U.S. South to the defeat of the Confederate States of America in the American Civil War of 1861–1865...

 movement focused on Longstreet's actions at Gettysburg as a primary reason for the Confederacy's loss of the war. His reputation in the South was damaged for over a century and has only recently begun a slow reassessment.

Early life and career


Longstreet was born in Edgefield District, South Carolina
South Carolina
South Carolina is a state in the Deep South of the United States that borders Georgia to the south, North Carolina to the north, and the Atlantic Ocean to the east. Originally part of the Province of Carolina, the Province of South Carolina was one of the 13 colonies that declared independence...

 (in an area that is now part of North Augusta in Edgefield County). He was the fifth child and third son of James Longstreet (1783-1833) and Mary Ann Dent (1793-1855), originally from New Jersey and Maryland respectively, who owned a cotton plantation close to where the village of Gainesville
Gainesville, Georgia
-Severe Weather:Gainesville sits on the very fringe of Tornado Alley, a region of the United States where severe weather is common. Supercell thunderstorms can sweep through any time between March and November, but are concentrated most in the spring...

 would be founded in northeastern Georgia. James's ancestor Dirck Stoffels Langestraet immigrated to the Dutch
Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

 colony of New Netherland
New Netherland
New Netherland, or Nieuw-Nederland in Dutch, was the 17th-century colonial province of the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands on the East Coast of North America. The claimed territories were the lands from the Delmarva Peninsula to extreme southwestern Cape Cod...

 in 1657, but the name became Anglicized over the generations. James's father was impressed by his son's "rocklike" character on the rural plantation, giving him the nickname Peter
Saint Peter
Saint Peter or Simon Peter was an early Christian leader, who is featured prominently in the New Testament Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles. The son of John or of Jonah and from the village of Bethsaida in the province of Galilee, his brother Andrew was also an apostle...

, and he was known as Pete or Old Pete for the rest of his life.

James's father decided a military career for his son, but felt that the local education available to him would not be adequate preparation. At the age of nine, James was sent to live with his aunt and uncle in Augusta, Georgia
Augusta, Georgia
Augusta is a consolidated city in the U.S. state of Georgia, located along the Savannah River. As of the 2010 census, the Augusta–Richmond County population was 195,844 not counting the unconsolidated cities of Hephzibah and Blythe.Augusta is the principal city of the Augusta-Richmond County...

. His uncle, Augustus Baldwin Longstreet
Augustus Baldwin Longstreet
Augustus Baldwin Longstreet was an American lawyer, minster, educator, and humorist, known for his book Georgia Scenes.-Biography:...

, was a newspaper editor, educator, and a Methodist minister. James spent eight years on his uncle's plantation, Westover, just outside the city, while he attended the Academy of Richmond County
Academy of Richmond County
The Academy of Richmond County is a public high school listed on the National Register of Historic Places located in Augusta, Georgia, USA. Originally known as Richmond County Military Academy, and commonly known as Richmond Academy, it was chartered in 1783...

. His father died from a cholera
Cholera
Cholera is an infection of the small intestine that is caused by the bacterium Vibrio cholerae. The main symptoms are profuse watery diarrhea and vomiting. Transmission occurs primarily by drinking or eating water or food that has been contaminated by the diarrhea of an infected person or the feces...

 epidemic while visiting Augusta in 1833; although James's mother and the rest of the family moved to Somerville, Alabama
Somerville, Alabama
Somerville is a town in Morgan County, Alabama. It is included in the Decatur Metropolitan Area, as well as the Huntsville-Decatur Combined Statistical Area. As of the 2000 census, the population of the town is 347. Somerville was the county seat of Morgan County from 1818 to 1891, when the seat...

, following his father's death James remained with uncle Augustus.

In 1837 Augustus attempted to obtain an appointment for James to the United States Military Academy
United States Military Academy
The United States Military Academy at West Point is a four-year coeducational federal service academy located at West Point, New York. The academy sits on scenic high ground overlooking the Hudson River, north of New York City...

, but the vacancy for his congressional district had already been filled so James was appointed in 1838 by a relative, Reuben Chapman
Reuben Chapman
Reuben Chapman was an American lawyer and politician. Born in 1799 in Bowling Green, Virginia, he represented Alabama in the U.S. House from 1835 to 1847 and served as the 13th Governor of the U.S. state of Alabama from 1847 to 1849. He died in Huntsville, Alabama in 1882.-External links:**...

, who represented the First District of Alabama (where Mary Longstreet lived). James was a poor student academically and a disciplinary problem at West Point, ranking 54th out of 56 cadets when he graduated in 1842. He was popular with his classmates, however, and befriended a number of men who would become prominent during the Civil War, including George Henry Thomas
George Henry Thomas
George Henry Thomas was a career United States Army officer and a Union General during the American Civil War, one of the principal commanders in the Western Theater....

, William S. Rosecrans, John Pope
John Pope (military officer)
John Pope was a career United States Army officer and Union general in the American Civil War. He had a brief but successful career in the Western Theater, but he is best known for his defeat at the Second Battle of Bull Run in the East.Pope was a graduate of the United States Military Academy in...

, D.H. Hill, Lafayette McLaws
Lafayette McLaws
Lafayette McLaws was a United States Army officer and a Confederate general in the American Civil War.-Early life:...

, George Pickett
George Pickett
George Edward Pickett was a career United States Army officer who became a general in the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War...

, and Ulysses S. Grant
Ulysses S. Grant
Ulysses S. Grant was the 18th President of the United States as well as military commander during the Civil War and post-war Reconstruction periods. Under Grant's command, the Union Army defeated the Confederate military and ended the Confederate States of America...

 of the class of 1843. Longstreet was commissioned a brevet
Brevet (military)
In many of the world's military establishments, brevet referred to a warrant authorizing a commissioned officer to hold a higher rank temporarily, but usually without receiving the pay of that higher rank except when actually serving in that role. An officer so promoted may be referred to as being...

 second lieutenant in the 4th U.S. Infantry.

Longstreet spent his first two years of service at Jefferson Barracks
Jefferson Barracks Military Post
The Jefferson Barracks Military Post, located on the Mississippi River at Lemay, Missouri, which is just south of St. Louis, Missouri,was, at first owned land by the DeGamache's then borrowed by military leaders, but after war, the land was not returned. It was an important and highly active U.S....

, Missouri
Missouri
Missouri is a US state located in the Midwestern United States, bordered by Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska. With a 2010 population of 5,988,927, Missouri is the 18th most populous state in the nation and the fifth most populous in the Midwest. It...

, where he was soon joined by his friend, Lieutenant Grant. Longstreet met Maria Louisa Garland, called Louise by her family. She was the daughter of Longstreet's regimental commander, Lt. Col. John Garland. They married in March 1848, after the Mexican-American War. Although their marriage would last for over 40 years and produce 10 children, Longstreet never mentioned Louise in his memoirs and most anecdotes about their relationship came to historians through the writings of his second wife, Helen Dortch Longstreet.

At about the same time as Longstreet began courting Garland, Grant became acquainted with and courted Longstreet's fourth cousin, Julia Dent
Julia Grant
Julia Boggs Dent-Grant , was the wife of the 18th President of the United States, Ulysses S. Grant, and was First Lady of the United States from 1869 to 1877.-Background:...

, and the couple eventually married. Historians agree that Longstreet attended the Grant wedding on August 22, 1848 in St. Louis, but his role at the ceremony remains unclear. Grant biographer Jean Edward Smith asserted that Longstreet served as Grant's best man at the wedding. John Y. Simon, editor of Julia Grant's memoirs, concluded that Longstreet "may have been a groomsman," and Longstreet biographer Donald Brigman Sanger called the role of best man "uncertain" while noting that neither Grant nor Longstreet mentioned any such role in either of their memoirs.

Mexican-American War


Longstreet served with distinction in the Mexican War with the 8th U.S. Infantry. He received brevet promotions to captain for Contreras
Battle of Contreras
The Battle of Contreras, also known as the Battle of Padierna, took place during August 19–20, 1847, in the final encounters of the Mexican-American War. In the Battle of Churubusco, fighting continued the following day.-Background:...

 and Churubusco
Battle of Churubusco
The Battle of Churubusco took place on August 20, 1847, in the immediate aftermath of the Battle of Contreras during the Mexican-American War. After defeating the Mexican army at Churubusco, the U.S. Army was only 5 miles away from Mexico City, the capital of the nation...

 and to major for Molino del Rey
Battle of Molino del Rey
The Battle of Molino del Rey was one of the bloodiest engagements of the Mexican-American War. It was fought in September 1847 between Mexican forces under General Antonio Léon against an American force under General Winfield Scott at a hill called El Molino del Rey near Mexico City.-Background:On...

. In the Battle of Chapultepec
Battle of Chapultepec
The Battle of Chapultepec, in September 1847, was a United States victory over Mexican forces holding Chapultepec Castle west of Mexico City during the Mexican-American War.-Background:On September 13, 1847, in the costly Battle of Molino del Rey, U.S...

 on September 12, 1847, he was wounded in the thigh while charging up the hill with his regimental colors; falling, he handed the flag to his friend, Lt. George E. Pickett, who was able to reach the summit.

After the war and his recovery from the Chapultepec wound, Longstreet and his new wife served on frontier duty in Texas, primarily at Fort Martin Scott
Fort Martin Scott
Fort Martin Scott is a restored United States Army outpost near Fredericksburg in the Texas Hill Country, United States, that was active from 1848 until 1853...

 near Fredericksburg
Fredericksburg, Texas
Fredericksburg is the seat of Gillespie County, in the U.S. state of Texas. As of the 2010 Census estimate, the city had a population of 10, 530...

 and Fort Bliss
Fort Bliss
Fort Bliss is a United States Army post in the U.S. states of New Mexico and Texas. With an area of about , it is the Army's second-largest installation behind the adjacent White Sands Missile Range. It is FORSCOM's largest installation, and has the Army's largest Maneuver Area behind the...

 in El Paso
El Paso, Texas
El Paso, is a city in and the county seat of El Paso County, Texas, United States, and lies in far West Texas. In the 2010 census, the city had a population of 649,121. It is the sixth largest city in Texas and the 19th largest city in the United States...

. He performed scouting missions and also served as major and paymaster for the 8th Infantry from July 1858. Author Kevin Phillips
Kevin Phillips (political commentator)
Kevin Price Phillips is an American writer and commentator on politics, economics, and history. Formerly a Republican Party strategist, Phillips has become disaffected with his former party over the last two decades, and is now one of its most scathing critics...

 claims that during this period Longstreet was involved in a plot to draw the Mexican state of Chihuahua into the Union as a slave state.

Longstreet was not enthusiastic about secession
Secession
Secession is the act of withdrawing from an organization, union, or especially a political entity. Threats of secession also can be a strategy for achieving more limited goals.-Secession theory:...

 from the Union
Union (American Civil War)
During the American Civil War, the Union was a name used to refer to the federal government of the United States, which was supported by the twenty free states and five border slave states. It was opposed by 11 southern slave states that had declared a secession to join together to form the...

, but he had learned from his uncle Augustus about the doctrine of states' rights
States' rights
States' rights in U.S. politics refers to political powers reserved for the U.S. state governments rather than the federal government. It is often considered a loaded term because of its use in opposition to federally mandated racial desegregation...

 early in his life and had seen his uncle's passion for it. Although he was born in South Carolina and reared in Georgia, he offered his services to the state of Alabama, which had appointed him to West Point and where his mother still lived. Furthermore, he was the senior West Point graduate from that state, which implied a commensurate rank in the state's forces would be available. He resigned from the U.S. Army
United States Army
The United States Army is the main branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for land-based military operations. It is the largest and oldest established branch of the U.S. military, and is one of seven U.S. uniformed services...

 in June 1861 to cast his lot with the Confederacy
Confederate States of America
The Confederate States of America was a government set up from 1861 to 1865 by 11 Southern slave states of the United States of America that had declared their secession from the U.S...

 in the Civil War.

First Bull Run and the Peninsula


Longstreet arrived in Richmond, Virginia
Richmond, Virginia
Richmond is the capital of the Commonwealth of Virginia, in the United States. It is an independent city and not part of any county. Richmond is the center of the Richmond Metropolitan Statistical Area and the Greater Richmond area...

 with a commission as a lieutenant colonel
Lieutenant colonel
Lieutenant colonel is a rank of commissioned officer in the armies and most marine forces and some air forces of the world, typically ranking above a major and below a colonel. The rank of lieutenant colonel is often shortened to simply "colonel" in conversation and in unofficial correspondence...

 in the Confederate States Army
Confederate States Army
The Confederate States Army was the army of the Confederate States of America while the Confederacy existed during the American Civil War. On February 8, 1861, delegates from the seven Deep South states which had already declared their secession from the United States of America adopted the...

. He met with Confederate President Jefferson Davis
Jefferson Davis
Jefferson Finis Davis , also known as Jeff Davis, was an American statesman and leader of the Confederacy during the American Civil War, serving as President for its entire history. He was born in Kentucky to Samuel and Jane Davis...

 at the executive mansion on June 22, 1861, where he was informed that he had been appointed a brigadier general with date of rank on June 17, a commission he accepted on June 25. He was ordered to report to Brig. Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard at Manassas
Manassas, Virginia
The City of Manassas is an independent city surrounded by Prince William County and the independent city of Manassas Park in the Commonwealth of Virginia in the United States. Its population was 37,821 as of 2010. Manassas also surrounds the county seat for Prince William County but that county...

, where he was given command of a brigade of three Virginia regiments—the 1st
1st Virginia Infantry
The 1st Virginia Volunteer Infantry Regiment was an infantry regiment raised in the Commonwealth of Virginia for service in the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War. It fought mostly with the Army of Northern Virginia....

, 11th
11th Virginia Infantry
The 11th Virginia Volunteer Infantry Regiment was an infantry regiment raised in Virginia for service in the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War. It fought mostly with the Army of Northern Virginia....

, and 17th Virginia Infantry
17th Virginia Infantry
The 17th Virginia Volunteer Infantry Regiment was an infantry regiment raised in Virginia for service in the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War. It fought mostly with the Army of Northern Virginia....

 regiments.

Longstreet assembled his staff and trained his brigade incessantly. They saw their first action at Blackburn's Ford on July 18, resisting a Union Army
Union Army
The Union Army was the land force that fought for the Union during the American Civil War. It was also known as the Federal Army, the U.S. Army, the Northern Army and the National Army...

 reconnaissance in force that preceded the First Battle of Bull Run
First Battle of Bull Run
First Battle of Bull Run, also known as First Manassas , was fought on July 21, 1861, in Prince William County, Virginia, near the City of Manassas...

. When the main attack came at the opposite end of the line on July 21, the brigade played a relatively minor role, although it endured artillery fire for nine hours. Longstreet was infuriated that his commanders would not allow a vigorous pursuit of the defeated Union Army. His trusted staff officer, Moxley Sorrel
Moxley Sorrel
Gilbert Moxley Sorrel was a Confederate States Army officer and historian of the Confederacy.-Early life:Sorrel was born in Savannah, Georgia, the son of one of the wealthiest men in the city, Francis Sorrel. He was the brother-in-law of William W...

, recorded that he was "in a fine rage. He dashed his hat furiously to the ground, stamped, and bitter words escaped him." He quoted Longstreet as saying, "Retreat! Hell, the Federal army has broken to pieces." On October 7, Longstreet was promoted to major general and assumed command of a division in the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia
Army of Northern Virginia
The Army of Northern Virginia was the primary military force of the Confederate States of America in the Eastern Theater of the American Civil War, as well as the primary command structure of the Department of Northern Virginia. It was most often arrayed against the Union Army of the Potomac...

 —four infantry brigades and Hampton's Legion
Hampton's Legion
Hampton's Legion was an American Civil War military unit of the Confederate States of America, organized and partially financed by wealthy South Carolina plantation owner Wade Hampton III...

.

Tragedy struck the Longstreet family in January 1862. A scarlet fever
Scarlet fever
Scarlet fever is a disease caused by exotoxin released by Streptococcus pyogenes. Once a major cause of death, it is now effectively treated with antibiotics...

 epidemic in Richmond claimed the lives of his one-year-old daughter Mary Anne, his four-year-old son James, and six-year-old Augustus ("Gus"), all within a week. His 13-year-old son Garland almost succumbed. The losses were devastating for Longstreet and he became withdrawn, both personally and socially. In 1861 his headquarters were noted for parties, drinking, and poker games. After he returned from the funeral the headquarters social life became more somber, he rarely drank, and he became a devout Episcopalian.

Longstreet turned in a mixed performance in the Peninsula Campaign
Peninsula Campaign
The Peninsula Campaign of the American Civil War was a major Union operation launched in southeastern Virginia from March through July 1862, the first large-scale offensive in the Eastern Theater. The operation, commanded by Maj. Gen. George B...

 that spring. He executed well as a rear guard commander at Yorktown
Battle of Yorktown (1862)
The Battle of Yorktown or Siege of Yorktown was fought from April 5 to May 4, 1862, as part of the Peninsula Campaign of the American Civil War. Marching from Fort Monroe, Union Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan's Army of the Potomac encountered Maj. Gen. John B. Magruder's small Confederate force...

 and Williamsburg
Battle of Williamsburg
The Battle of Williamsburg, also known as the Battle of Fort Magruder, took place on May 5, 1862, in York County, James City County, and Williamsburg, Virginia, as part of the Peninsula Campaign of the American Civil War...

, delaying the advance of Union Maj. Gen.
Major general (United States)
In the United States Army, United States Marine Corps, and United States Air Force, major general is a two-star general-officer rank, with the pay grade of O-8. Major general ranks above brigadier general and below lieutenant general...

 George B. McClellan
George B. McClellan
George Brinton McClellan was a major general during the American Civil War. He organized the famous Army of the Potomac and served briefly as the general-in-chief of the Union Army. Early in the war, McClellan played an important role in raising a well-trained and organized army for the Union...

's army toward Richmond. During the Battle of Seven Pines
Battle of Seven Pines
The Battle of Seven Pines, also known as the Battle of Fair Oaks or Fair Oaks Station, took place on May 31 and June 1, 1862, in Henrico County, Virginia, as part of the Peninsula Campaign of the American Civil War. It was the culmination of an offensive up the Virginia Peninsula by Union Maj. Gen....

 he marched his men in the wrong direction down the wrong road, causing congestion and confusion with other Confederate units, diluting the effect of the massive Confederate counterattack against McClellan. His report unfairly blamed fellow Maj. Gen. Benjamin Huger for the mishaps. Gen. Joseph E. Johnston
Joseph E. Johnston
Joseph Eggleston Johnston was a career U.S. Army officer, serving with distinction in the Mexican-American War and Seminole Wars, and was also one of the most senior general officers in the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War...

 was wounded during the battle and he was replaced in command of the Army of Northern Virginia
Army of Northern Virginia
The Army of Northern Virginia was the primary military force of the Confederate States of America in the Eastern Theater of the American Civil War, as well as the primary command structure of the Department of Northern Virginia. It was most often arrayed against the Union Army of the Potomac...

 by Gen. Robert E. Lee
Robert E. Lee
Robert Edward Lee was a career military officer who is best known for having commanded the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia in the American Civil War....

.

During the Seven Days Battles
Seven Days Battles
The Seven Days Battles was a series of six major battles over the seven days from June 25 to July 1, 1862, near Richmond, Virginia during the American Civil War. Confederate General Robert E. Lee drove the invading Union Army of the Potomac, commanded by Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan, away from...

 that followed in late June, Longstreet had operational command of nearly half of Lee's army—15 brigades—as it drove McClellan back down the Peninsula. Longstreet performed aggressively and well in his new, larger command, particularly at Gaines' Mill
Battle of Gaines' Mill
The Battle of Gaines's Mill, sometimes known as the First Battle of Cold Harbor or the Battle of Chickahominy River, took place on June 27, 1862, in Hanover County, Virginia, as the third of the Seven Days Battles of the American Civil War...

 and Glendale
Battle of Glendale
The Battle of Glendale, also known as the Battle of Frayser's Farm, Frazier's Farm, Nelson's Farm, Charles City Crossroads, New Market Road, or Riddell's Shop, took place on June 30, 1862, in Henrico County, Virginia, on the sixth day of the Seven Days Battles of the American Civil War.The...

. Lee's army in general suffered from weak performances by Longstreet's peers, including, uncharacteristically, Maj. Gen. Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson
Stonewall Jackson
ຄຽשת״ׇׂׂׂׂ֣|birth_place= Clarksburg, Virginia |death_place=Guinea Station, Virginia|placeofburial=Stonewall Jackson Memorial CemeteryLexington, Virginia|placeofburial_label= Place of burial|image=...

, and was unable to destroy the Union Army. Moxley Sorrel wrote of Longstreet's confidence and calmness in battle: "He was like a rock in steadiness when sometimes in battle the world seemed flying to pieces." Gen. Lee said, "Longstreet was the staff in my right hand." He had been established as Lee's principal lieutenant.

Second Bull Run, Maryland, and Fredericksburg


The military reputations of Lee's corps commanders are often characterized as Stonewall Jackson representing the audacious, offensive component of Lee's army, whereas Longstreet more typically advocated and executed defensive strategies and tactics. Jackson has been described as the army's hammer, Longstreet its anvil. In the Northern Virginia Campaign
Northern Virginia Campaign
The Northern Virginia Campaign, also known as the Second Bull Run Campaign or Second Manassas Campaign, was a series of battles fought in Virginia during August and September 1862 in the Eastern Theater of the American Civil War. Confederate General Robert E...

 of August 1862, this stereotype did not hold true. Longstreet commanded the Right Wing (later to become known as the First Corps) and Jackson commanded the Left Wing. Jackson started the campaign under Lee's orders with a sweeping flanking maneuver that placed his corps into the rear of Union Maj. Gen. John Pope's Army of Virginia
Army of Virginia
The Army of Virginia was organized as a major unit of the Union Army and operated briefly and unsuccessfully in 1862 in the American Civil War. It should not be confused with its principal opponent, the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia, commanded by Robert E...

, but he then took up a defensive position and effectively invited Pope to assault him. On August 28 and August 29, the start of the Second Battle of Bull Run
Second Battle of Bull Run
The Second Battle of Bull Run or Second Manassas was fought August 28–30, 1862, as part of the American Civil War. It was the culmination of an offensive campaign waged by Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia against Union Maj. Gen...

, Pope pounded Jackson as Longstreet and the remainder of the army marched north to reach the battlefield. Postwar criticism of Longstreet claimed that he marched his men too slowly, leaving Jackson to bear the brunt of the fighting for two days, but they covered roughly 30 miles (48.3 km) in a little over 24 hours and Gen. Lee did not attempt to get his army concentrated any faster.
When Longstreet's men arrived around midday on August 29, Lee planned a flanking attack on the Union Army, which was concentrating its attention on Jackson. Longstreet demurred against three suggestions from Lee, urging him to attack, recommending instead that a reconnaissance in force be conducted to survey the ground in front of him. By 6:30 p.m. the division of Brig. Gen. John Bell Hood
John Bell Hood
John Bell Hood was a Confederate general during the American Civil War. Hood had a reputation for bravery and aggressiveness that sometimes bordered on recklessness...

 moved forward against the troops of the Union V Corps, and Longstreet withdrew them at 8:30 p.m., having a better idea of the terrain and enemy soldiers in the area. On the next day, Longstreet's preparations paid dividends, as his artillery was a major factor in helping Jackson resist the V Corps attack, and he capitalized on Federal confusion by launching an attack of his own, anticipating an order from Lee that had not yet arrived. Despite the smashing victory that followed, Longstreet's performance at the battle was criticized by postbellum advocates of the Lost Cause
Lost Cause of the Confederacy
The Lost Cause is the name commonly given to an American literary and intellectual movement that sought to reconcile the traditional white society of the U.S. South to the defeat of the Confederate States of America in the American Civil War of 1861–1865...

, claiming that his slowness, reluctance to attack, and disobedience to Gen. Lee were a harbinger of his controversial performance to come on July 2, 1863, at the Battle of Gettysburg
Battle of Gettysburg
The Battle of Gettysburg , was fought July 1–3, 1863, in and around the town of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. The battle with the largest number of casualties in the American Civil War, it is often described as the war's turning point. Union Maj. Gen. George Gordon Meade's Army of the Potomac...

. Lee's biographer, Douglas Southall Freeman, wrote: "The seeds of much of the disaster at Gettysburg were sown in that instant—when Lee yielded to Longstreet and Longstreet discovered that he would."

Despite this criticism, the following day, August 30, was one of Longstreet's finest performances of the war. Pope came to believe that Jackson was starting to retreat and Longstreet took advantage of this by launching a massive assault on the Union army's left flank with over 25,000 men. For over four hours they "pounded like a giant hammer" with Longstreet actively directing artillery fire and sending brigades into the fray. Longstreet and Lee were together during the assault and both of them came under Union artillery fire. Although the Union troops put up a furious defense, Pope's army was forced to retreat in a manner similar to the embarrassing Union defeat at First Bull Run, fought on roughly the same battleground. Longstreet gave all of the credit for the victory to Lee, describing the campaign as "clever and brilliant." It established a strategic model he believed to be ideal—the use of defensive tactics within a strategic offensive.

Longstreet's actions in the final two major Confederate defensive battles of 1862 would be the proving grounds for his development of dominant defensive tactics. In the Maryland Campaign
Maryland Campaign
The Maryland Campaign, or the Antietam Campaign is widely considered one of the major turning points of the American Civil War. Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee's first invasion of the North was repulsed by Maj. Gen. George B...

 of September, at the Battle of Antietam
Battle of Antietam
The Battle of Antietam , fought on September 17, 1862, near Sharpsburg, Maryland, and Antietam Creek, as part of the Maryland Campaign, was the first major battle in the American Civil War to take place on Northern soil. It was the bloodiest single-day battle in American history, with about 23,000...

, Longstreet held his part of the Confederate defensive line against Union forces twice as numerous. After the delaying action Longstreet's corps fought at South Mountain, he retired to Sharpsburg
Sharpsburg, Maryland
Sharpsburg is a town in Washington County, Maryland, United States, approximately south of Hagerstown. The population was 691 at the 2000 census....

 to join Stonewall Jackson, and prepared to fight a defensive battle. Using terrain to his advantage, Longstreet validated his idea that the tactical defense was now vastly superior to the exposed offense. While the offense dominated in the time of Napoleon, the technological advancements had overturned this. Lt. Col. Harold M. Knudsen claims that Longstreet was one of the few Civil War officers truly aware of this. At the end of that bloodiest day of the Civil War, Lee greeted his subordinate by saying, "Ah! Here is Longstreet; here's my old war-horse!" On October 9, a few weeks after Antietam, Longstreet was promoted to lieutenant general. Lee arranged for Longstreet's promotion to be dated one day earlier than Jackson's, making the Old War-Horse the senior lieutenant general in the entire Confederate Army. In an army reorganization in November Longstreet's command, now designated the First Corps, consisted of five divisions, approximately 41,000 men.


In December, Longstreet's First Corps played the decisive role in the Battle of Fredericksburg
Battle of Fredericksburg
The Battle of Fredericksburg was fought December 11–15, 1862, in and around Fredericksburg, Virginia, between General Robert E. Lee's Confederate Army of Northern Virginia and the Union Army of the Potomac, commanded by Maj. Gen. Ambrose E. Burnside...

. Since Lee moved Longstreet to Fredericksburg early, it allowed Longstreet to take the time to dig in portions of his line, methodically site artillery, and set up a kill zone over the axis of advance he thought the Union attack would come. Remembering the slaughter at Antietam, in which the Confederates did not construct defensive works, Longstreet ordered trenches, abatis
Abatis
Abatis, abattis, or abbattis is a term in field fortification for an obstacle formed of the branches of trees laid in a row, with the sharpened tops directed outwards, towards the enemy. The trees are usually interlaced or tied with wire...

, and fieldworks to be constructed, which would set a precedent for future defensive battles of the Army of Northern Virginia. Additionally, Longstreet positioned his men behind a stone wall at the foot of Marye's Heights and held off fourteen assaults by Union forces. The Union army suffered almost 8,000 casualties at Marye's Heights, Longstreet only 1,000. His great defensive success was not based entirely on the advantage of terrain; this time it was the combination of terrain, defensive works, and a centralized coordination of artillery.

Suffolk


In the early spring of 1863, Longstreet suggested to Lee that his corps be detached from the Army of Northern Virginia and sent to reinforce the Army of Tennessee
Army of Tennessee
The Army of Tennessee was the principal Confederate army operating between the Appalachian Mountains and the Mississippi River during the American Civil War. It was formed in late 1862 and fought until the end of the war in 1865, participating in most of the significant battles in the Western Theater...

, where Gen. Braxton Bragg
Braxton Bragg
Braxton Bragg was a career United States Army officer, and then a general in the Confederate States Army—a principal commander in the Western Theater of the American Civil War and later the military adviser to Confederate President Jefferson Davis.Bragg, a native of North Carolina, was...

 was being challenged in Middle Tennessee
Middle Tennessee
Middle Tennessee is a distinct portion of the state of Tennessee, delineated according to state law as the 41 counties in the Middle Grand Division of Tennessee....

 by Union Maj. Gen. William S. Rosecrans, Longstreet's roommate at West Point. It is possible that Longstreet believed that an independent command in the West offered better opportunities for advancement than a corps under Lee's shadow. Lee did detach two divisions from the First Corps, but ordered them to Richmond, not Tennessee. Seaborne movements of the Union IX Corps potentially threatened vital ports on the mid-Atlantic coast. The division of George Pickett started for the capital in mid-February, was followed by John Hood's, and then Longstreet himself was ordered to take command of the detached divisions and the Departments of North Carolina and Southern Virginia.

In April, Longstreet besieged Union forces
Siege of Suffolk
The Siege of Suffolk was fought around Suffolk, Virginia, from April 11 to May 4, 1863, during the American Civil War.-Background:In 1863 Lt. Gen. James Longstreet was placed in command of the Confederate Department of Virginia and North Carolina. Longstreet was given four objectives: 1) to...

 in the city of Suffolk, Virginia
Suffolk, Virginia
Suffolk is the largest city by area in Virginia, United States, and is located in the Hampton Roads metropolitan area. As of the 2010 census, the city had a total population of 84,585. Its median household income was $57,546.-History:...

, a minor operation, but one that was very important to Lee's army, still stationed in war-devastated central Virginia. It enabled Confederate authorities to collect huge amounts of provisions that had been under Union control. However, this operation caused Longstreet and 15,000 men of the First Corps to be absent from the Battle of Chancellorsville
Battle of Chancellorsville
The Battle of Chancellorsville was a major battle of the American Civil War, and the principal engagement of the Chancellorsville Campaign. It was fought from April 30 to May 6, 1863, in Spotsylvania County, Virginia, near the village of Chancellorsville. Two related battles were fought nearby on...

 in May. Despite Lee's brilliant victory at Chancellorsville, Longstreet once again came under criticism, claiming that he could have marched his men back from Suffolk in time to join Lee. However, from the Chancellorsville and Suffolk scenario, Longstreet brought forward the beginnings of a new Confederate strategy. These events proved that the Army of Northern Virginia could manage with fewer troops for periods of time, and units could be shifted to create windows of opportunity in other theaters. Longstreet advocated the first strategic movements to utilize rail, interior lines, and create temporary numerical advantages in Mississippi or Tennessee prior to Gettysburg.

Campaign plans


Following Chancellorsville and the death of Stonewall Jackson
Stonewall Jackson
ຄຽשת״ׇׂׂׂׂ֣|birth_place= Clarksburg, Virginia |death_place=Guinea Station, Virginia|placeofburial=Stonewall Jackson Memorial CemeteryLexington, Virginia|placeofburial_label= Place of burial|image=...

, Longstreet and Lee met in mid-May to discuss options for the army's summer campaign. Longstreet advocated, once again, detachment of all or part of his corps to be sent to Tennessee
Tennessee
Tennessee is a U.S. state located in the Southeastern United States. It has a population of 6,346,105, making it the nation's 17th-largest state by population, and covers , making it the 36th-largest by total land area...

. The justification for this course of action was becoming more urgent as Union Maj. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant
Ulysses S. Grant
Ulysses S. Grant was the 18th President of the United States as well as military commander during the Civil War and post-war Reconstruction periods. Under Grant's command, the Union Army defeated the Confederate military and ended the Confederate States of America...

 was advancing on the critical Confederate stronghold on the Mississippi River
Mississippi River
The Mississippi River is the largest river system in North America. Flowing entirely in the United States, this river rises in western Minnesota and meanders slowly southwards for to the Mississippi River Delta at the Gulf of Mexico. With its many tributaries, the Mississippi's watershed drains...

, Vicksburg
Vicksburg, Mississippi
Vicksburg is a city in Warren County, Mississippi, United States. It is the only city in Warren County. It is located northwest of New Orleans on the Mississippi and Yazoo rivers, and due west of Jackson, the state capital. In 1900, 14,834 people lived in Vicksburg; in 1910, 20,814; in 1920,...

. Longstreet argued that a reinforced army under Bragg could defeat Rosecrans and drive toward the Ohio River
Ohio River
The Ohio River is the largest tributary, by volume, of the Mississippi River. At the confluence, the Ohio is even bigger than the Mississippi and, thus, is hydrologically the main stream of the whole river system, including the Allegheny River further upstream...

, which would compel Grant to break his hold on Vicksburg. Lee was opposed to a division of his army and instead advocated a large-scale offensive or raid into Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is a U.S. state that is located in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. The state borders Delaware and Maryland to the south, West Virginia to the southwest, Ohio to the west, New York and Ontario, Canada, to the north, and New Jersey to...

. In his memoirs, Longstreet described his reaction to Lee's proposal:
This was written years after the campaign and is affected by hindsight, both of the results of the battle and of the postbellum criticism of the Lost Cause authors. In letters of the time Longstreet made no reference to such a bargain with Lee. In April 1868, Lee said that he "had never made any such promise, and had never thought of doing any such thing." Yet in his post-battle report, Lee wrote, "It had not been intended to fight a general battle at such a distance from our base, unless attacked by the enemy."

The Army of Northern Virginia
Army of Northern Virginia
The Army of Northern Virginia was the primary military force of the Confederate States of America in the Eastern Theater of the American Civil War, as well as the primary command structure of the Department of Northern Virginia. It was most often arrayed against the Union Army of the Potomac...

 was reorganized after Jackson's death. Two division commanders, Richard S. Ewell
Richard S. Ewell
Richard Stoddert Ewell was a career United States Army officer and a Confederate general during the American Civil War. He achieved fame as a senior commander under Stonewall Jackson and Robert E...

 and A.P. Hill, were promoted to lieutenant general and assumed command of the Second and the newly created Third Corps respectively. Longstreet's First Corps gave up the division of Maj. Gen. Richard H. Anderson
Richard H. Anderson
Richard Heron Anderson was a career U.S. Army officer, fighting with distinction in the Mexican-American War. He also served as a Confederate general during the American Civil War, fighting in the Eastern Theater of the conflict and most notably during the 1864 Battle of Spotsylvania Court House...

 during the reorganization, leaving him with the divisions of Lafayette McLaws, George Pickett, and John Hood.

In the initial movements of the campaign, Longstreet's corps followed Ewell's through the Shenandoah Valley
Shenandoah Valley
The Shenandoah Valley is both a geographic valley and cultural region of western Virginia and West Virginia in the United States. The valley is bounded to the east by the Blue Ridge Mountains, to the west by the eastern front of the Ridge-and-Valley Appalachians , to the north by the Potomac River...

. A spy he had hired, Henry Thomas Harrison
Henry Thomas Harrison
Henry Thomas Harrison , known to most simply as "Harrison", was a spy for Confederate Lt. Gen. James Longstreet during the American Civil War. He is most well known for the information he gave Longstreet and Gen. Robert E...

 who went by just "Harrison", was instrumental in warning the Confederates that the Union Army of the Potomac
Army of the Potomac
The Army of the Potomac was the major Union Army in the Eastern Theater of the American Civil War.-History:The Army of the Potomac was created in 1861, but was then only the size of a corps . Its nucleus was called the Army of Northeastern Virginia, under Brig. Gen...

 was advancing north to meet them more quickly than they had anticipated, prompting Lee to order the immediate concentration of his army near Gettysburg, Pennsylvania
Gettysburg, Pennsylvania
Gettysburg is a borough that is the county seat, part of the Gettysburg Battlefield, and the eponym for the 1863 Battle of Gettysburg. The town hosts visitors to the Gettysburg National Military Park and has 3 institutions of higher learning: Lutheran Theological Seminary, Gettysburg College, and...

.

Battle of Gettysburg



Longstreet's actions at the Battle of Gettysburg
Battle of Gettysburg
The Battle of Gettysburg , was fought July 1–3, 1863, in and around the town of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. The battle with the largest number of casualties in the American Civil War, it is often described as the war's turning point. Union Maj. Gen. George Gordon Meade's Army of the Potomac...

 would be the centerpiece of the controversy that surrounded him for over a century. Ahead of his troops he arrived on the battlefield late in the afternoon of the first day, July 1, 1863. By then, two Union corps had been driven by Ewell and Hill back through the town into defensive positions on Cemetery Hill
Cemetery Hill
Cemetery Hill is a Gettysburg Battlefield landform which had 1863 military engagements each day of the July 1–3 Battle of Gettysburg. The northernmost part of the Army of the Potomac defensive "fish-hook" line, the hill is gently sloped and provided a site for American Civil War artillery...

. Lee had not intended to fight before his army was fully concentrated, but chance and questionable decisions by A.P. Hill brought on the battle, which was an impressive Confederate victory on the first day. Meeting with Lee, Longstreet was concerned about the strength of the Union defensive position and advocated a strategic movement around the left flank of the enemy, to "secure good ground between him and his capital," which would presumably compel the Union commander, Maj. Gen. George G. Meade, to attack defensive positions erected by the Confederates. Instead, Lee exclaimed, "If the enemy is there tomorrow, we must attack him."

Lee's plan for July 2 called for Longstreet to attack the Union's left flank, which would be followed up by Hill's attack on Cemetery Ridge
Cemetery Ridge
Cemetery Ridge is a geographic feature in Gettysburg National Military Park south of the town of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, that figured prominently in the Battle of Gettysburg, July 1 to July 3, 1863. It formed a primary defensive position for the Union Army during the battle, roughly the center of...

 near the center, while Ewell demonstrated on the Union right. Longstreet was not ready to attack as early as Lee envisioned. He received permission from Lee to wait for Brig. Gen. Evander M. Law
Evander M. Law
Evander McIver Law was an author, teacher, and a Confederate general in the American Civil War.-Early life:...

's brigade (Hood's division) to reach the field before he advanced any of his other brigades; Law marched his men quickly, but did not arrive until noon. Three of Longstreet's brigades were still in march column, and some distance from the attack positions they would need to reach. All of Longstreet's divisions were forced to take a long detour while approaching the enemy position, misled by inadequate reconnaissance that failed to identify a completely concealed route.

Postbellum criticism of Longstreet claims that he was ordered by Lee to attack in the early morning and that his delays were a significant contributor to the loss of the battle. However, Lee agreed to the delays for arriving troops and did not issue his formal order for the attack until 11 a.m. Although Longstreet's motivations have long been clouded by the vitriol of the Lost Cause partisans (see Legacy), many historians agree that Longstreet did not aggressively pursue Lee's orders to launch an attack as early as possible. Biographer Jeffry D. Wert wrote, "Longstreet deserves censure for his performance on the morning of July 2. He allowed his disagreement with Lee's decision to affect his conduct. Once the commanding general determined to assail the enemy, duty required Longstreet to comply with the vigor and thoroughness that had previously characterized his generalship. The concern for detail, the regard for timely information, and the need for preparation were absent." Military historians Herman Hattaway and Archer Jones wrote, "Unenthusiastic about the attack, Longstreet consumed so much time in properly assembling and aligning the corps that the assault did not commence until 4 p.m. During all the time that passed, Meade continued to move in troops to bring about a more and more complete concentration; by 6 p.m. he had achieved numerical superiority and had his left well covered." Campaign historian Edwin Coddington presents a lengthy description of the approach march, which he described as "a comedy of errors such as one might expect of inexperienced commanders and raw militia, but not of Lee's "War Horse" and his veteran troops." He called the episode "a dark moment in Longstreet's career as a general." Gettysburg historian Harry Pfanz concluded that "Longstreet's angry dissidence had resulted in further wasted time and delay." David L. Callihan, in a 2002 reassessment of Longstreet's legacy, wrote, "It is appalling that a field commander of Longstreet's experience and caliber would so cavalierly and ineptly march and prepare his men for battle." An alternative view has been expressed by John Lott, "General Longstreet did all that could be expected on the 2nd day and any allegations of failing to exercise his duty by ordering a morning can be repudiated. It would have been impossible to have commenced an attack much earlier than it occurred, and it is doubtful that the Confederacy could have placed the attack in any more secure hands than General Longstreet." But Longstreet's command of the operation had for the most part, been reasonable, since taking the route he should have would have alerted the whole Union army of his assault. Regardless of the controversy regarding the preparations, however, once the assault began around 4 p.m., Longstreet pressed the assault by McLaws and Hood (Pickett's division had not yet arrived) competently against fierce Union resistance, but it was largely unsuccessful, with significant casualties.

On the night of July 2, Longstreet did not follow his usual custom of meeting Gen. Lee at his headquarters to discuss the day's battle, claiming that he was too fatigued to make the ride. Instead, he spent part of the night planning for a movement around Big Round Top
Big Round Top
Big Round Top is a boulder-strewn hill notable as the topographic high point of the Gettysburg Battlefield and for 1863 American Civil War engagements for which Medals of Honor were awarded...

 that would allow him to attack the enemy's flank and rear. (Longstreet, despite his use of scouting parties, was apparently unaware that a considerable body of troops from the Union VI Corps was in position to block this move.) Shortly after issuing orders for the attack, around sunrise, Longstreet was joined at his headquarters by Lee, who was dismayed at this turn of events. The commanding general had intended for Longstreet to attack the Union left early in the morning in a manner similar to the attack of July 2, using Pickett's newly arrived division, in concert with a resumed attack by Ewell on Culp's Hill. What Lee found was that no one had ordered Pickett's division forward from its bivouac in the rear and that Longstreet had been planning an independent operation without consulting with him. Lee wrote with some restraint in his after-battle report that Longstreet's "dispositions were not completed as early as was expected."


Since his plans for an early-morning coordinated attack were now infeasible, Lee instead ordered Longstreet to coordinate a massive assault on the center of the Union line, employing the division of George Pickett and brigades from A.P. Hill's corps. Longstreet knew this assault had little chance of success. The Union Army was in a position reminiscent of the one Longstreet had harnessed at Fredericksburg to defeat Burnside's assault. The Confederates would have to cover almost a mile of open ground and spend time negotiating sturdy fences under fire. The lessons of Fredericksburg and Malvern Hill
Battle of Malvern Hill
The Battle of Malvern Hill, also known as the Battle of Poindexter's Farm, took place on July 1, 1862, in Henrico County, Virginia, on the seventh and last day of the Seven Days Battles of the American Civil War. Gen. Robert E. Lee launched a series of disjointed assaults on the nearly impregnable...

 were lost to Lee on this day. In his memoirs, Longstreet claims to have told Lee:
During the artillery barrage that preceded the infantry assault, Longstreet began to agonize over an assault that was going to cost dearly. He attempted to pass the responsibility for launching Pickett's division to his artillery chief, Col. Edward Porter Alexander
Edward Porter Alexander
Edward Porter Alexander was an engineer, an officer in the U.S. Army, a Confederate general in the American Civil War, and later a railroad executive, planter, and author....

. When the time came to actually order Pickett forward, Longstreet could only nod in assent, unable to verbalize the order. The assault, known as Pickett's Charge
Pickett's Charge
Pickett's Charge was an infantry assault ordered by Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee against Maj. Gen. George G. Meade's Union positions on Cemetery Ridge on July 3, 1863, the last day of the Battle of Gettysburg during the American Civil War. Its futility was predicted by the charge's commander,...

, suffered the heavy casualties that Longstreet anticipated. It was the decisive point in the Confederate loss at Gettysburg and Lee ordered a retreat back to Virginia the following day.

Criticism of Longstreet after the war was based not only on his reputed conduct at the Battle of Gettysburg, but also intemperate remarks he made about Robert E. Lee and his strategies, such as:

Tennessee


In mid-August 1863, Longstreet resumed his attempts to be transferred to the Western Theater. He wrote a private letter to Secretary of War
Confederate States Secretary of War
The Confederate States Secretary of War was a member of the Confederate States President's Cabinet during the Civil War. The Secretary of War led the Confederate States Department of War. The position ended in May 1865 when the Confederacy crumbled during John C. Breckinridge's tenure of the...

 James Seddon
James Seddon
James Alexander Seddon was an American lawyer and politician who served two terms in the U.S. Congress as a member of the Democratic Party. He was appointed Confederate States Secretary of War by Jefferson Davis during the American Civil War.-Biography:Seddon was born in Falmouth, Stafford County,...

, requesting that he be transferred to serve under his old friend Gen. Joseph E. Johnston
Joseph E. Johnston
Joseph Eggleston Johnston was a career U.S. Army officer, serving with distinction in the Mexican-American War and Seminole Wars, and was also one of the most senior general officers in the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War...

. He followed this up in conversations with his congressional ally, Senator Louis Wigfall
Louis Wigfall
Louis Trezevant Wigfall was an American politician from Texas who served as a member of the Texas Legislature, United States Senate, and Confederate Senate. Wigfall was among a group of leading secessionists known as Fire-Eaters, advocating the preservation and expansion of an aristocratic...

, who had long considered Longstreet a suitable replacement for Braxton Bragg. Since Bragg's army was under increasing pressure from Rosecrans outside of Chattanooga
Chattanooga, Tennessee
Chattanooga is the fourth-largest city in the US state of Tennessee , with a population of 169,887. It is the seat of Hamilton County...

, Lee and President Davis agreed to the request on September 5. In one of the most daunting logistical efforts of the Confederacy, Longstreet, with the divisions of Lafayette McLaws and John Hood, a brigade from George Pickett's division, and Porter Alexander's 26-gun artillery battalion, traveled over 16 railroads on a 775 miles (1,247 km) route through the Carolinas to reach Bragg in northern Georgia
Georgia (U.S. state)
Georgia is a state located in the southeastern United States. It was established in 1732, the last of the original Thirteen Colonies. The state is named after King George II of Great Britain. Georgia was the fourth state to ratify the United States Constitution, on January 2, 1788...

. Although the entire operation would take over three weeks, Longstreet and lead elements of his corps arrived on September 17.

The First Corps veterans arrived in the early stages of the Battle of Chickamauga
Battle of Chickamauga
The Battle of Chickamauga, fought September 19–20, 1863, marked the end of a Union offensive in southeastern Tennessee and northwestern Georgia called the Chickamauga Campaign...

. Bragg had already begun an unsuccessful attempt to interpose his army between Rosecrans and Chattanooga before the arrival of Longstreet's corps. When the two met at Bragg's headquarters in the evening, Bragg placed Longstreet in command of the Left Wing of his army; Lt. Gen. Leonidas Polk
Leonidas Polk
Leonidas Polk was a Confederate general in the American Civil War who was once a planter in Maury County, Tennessee, and a second cousin of President James K. Polk...

 commanded the Right. On September 20, 1863, Longstreet lined up eight brigades in a deep column against a narrow front, an attack very similar to future German tank tactics in World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

. By chance, a mistaken order from General Rosecrans caused a gap to appear in the Union line and Longstreet took additional advantage of it to increase his chances of success. The organization of the attack was well suited to the terrain and would have penetrated the Union line regardless. The Union right collapsed and Rosecrans fled the field, as units began to retreat in panic. Maj. Gen. George H. Thomas managed to rally the retreating units and solidify a defensive position on Snodgrass Hill. He held that position against repeated afternoon attacks by Longstreet, who was not adequately supported by the Confederate right wing. Once night fell, the battle was over, and Thomas was able to extricate the units under his control to Chattanooga. Bragg's failure to coordinate the right wing and cavalry to further envelope Thomas prevented a total rout of the Union Army. Bragg also neglected to pursue the retreating Federals aggressively, resulting in the futile siege of Chattanooga. Nevertheless, Chickamauga was the greatest Confederate victory in the Western Theater and Longstreet deserved a good portion of the credit.

Longstreet soon clashed with the much maligned Bragg and became leader of the group of senior commanders of the army who conspired to have him removed. Bragg's subordinates had long been dissatisfied with his leadership and abrasive personality; the arrival of Longstreet (the senior lieutenant general in the Army) and his officers, added credibility to the earlier claims, and was a catalyst toward action. Longstreet wrote to Seddon, "I am convinced that nothing but the hand of God can save us or help us as long as we have our present commander." The situation became so grave that President Davis was forced to intercede in person. What followed was one of the most bizarre scenes of the war, with Bragg sitting red faced as a procession of his commanders condemned him. Longstreet stated that Bragg "was incompetent to manage an army or put men into a fight" and that he "knew nothing of the business." Davis sided with Bragg and did nothing to resolve the conflict.

Bragg retained his position, relieving or reassigning the generals who had testified against him, and retaliated against Longstreet by reducing his command to only those units that he brought with him from Virginia. Despite the dysfunctional command climate under Bragg, and the lack of support from the War Department and President Davis concerning Bragg's removal, Longstreet did the best he could to continue to seek options in the Chattanooga Campaign. While Bragg resigned himself and his army to the siege of the Union Army of the Cumberland
Army of the Cumberland
The Army of the Cumberland was one of the principal Union armies in the Western Theater during the American Civil War. It was originally known as the Army of the Ohio.-History:...

 in Chattanooga, Longstreet devised a strategy to prevent reinforcement and a lifting of the siege by Grant. He knew this Union reaction was underway, and that the nearest railhead was Bridgeport, Alabama
Bridgeport, Alabama
Bridgeport is a small city in Jackson County, Alabama, United States. At the time of 2000 census the population was 2,728. Bridgeport is included in the Huntsville-Decatur Combined Statistical Area.-History:...

, where portions of two Union corps would soon arrive. After sending his artillery commander, Porter Alexander, to reconnoiter the Union-occupied town, he devised a plan to shift most of the Army of Tennessee away from the siege, setting up logistical support in Rome, Georgia
Rome, Georgia
Located in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, Rome is the largest city and the county seat of Floyd County, Georgia, United States. It is the principal city of the Rome, Georgia Metropolitan Statistical Area which encompasses all of Floyd County...

, go after Bridgeport to take the railhead, possibly catching Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker
Joseph Hooker
Joseph Hooker was a career United States Army officer, achieving the rank of major general in the Union Army during the American Civil War. Although he served throughout the war, usually with distinction, Hooker is best remembered for his stunning defeat by Confederate General Robert E...

 and arriving Union troops from the Eastern Theater in a disadvantageous position. The plan was well-received and approved by President Davis, but it was disapproved by Bragg, who objected to the significant logistical challenges it posed. Longstreet accepted Bragg's arguments and agreed to a plan in which he and his men were dispatched to East Tennessee to deal with an advance by Union Maj. Gen. Ambrose Burnside
Ambrose Burnside
Ambrose Everett Burnside was an American soldier, railroad executive, inventor, industrialist, and politician from Rhode Island, serving as governor and a U.S. Senator...

. Longstreet was selected for this assignment partially due to enmity on Bragg's part, but also because the War Department intended for Longstreet's men to return to Lee's army and this movement was in the correct direction.

Longstreet was criticized for the slow pace of his advance toward Knoxville
Knoxville, Tennessee
Founded in 1786, Knoxville is the third-largest city in the U.S. state of Tennessee, U.S.A., behind Memphis and Nashville, and is the county seat of Knox County. It is the largest city in East Tennessee, and the second-largest city in the Appalachia region...

 in November and some of his troops began using the nickname "Peter the Slow" to describe him. Burnside evaded him at the Battle of Campbell's Station
Battle of Campbell's Station
The Battle of Campbell's Station was a battle of the Knoxville Campaign of the American Civil War, occurring on November 16, 1863, at Campbell's Station, , Knox County, Tennessee....

 and settled into entrenchments around the city, which Longstreet besieged unsuccessfully. The Battle of Fort Sanders
Battle of Fort Sanders
The Battle of Fort Sanders was the decisive engagement of the Knoxville Campaign of the American Civil War, fought in Knoxville, Tennessee, on November 29, 1863. Assaults by Confederate Lt. Gen. James Longstreet failed to break through the defensive lines of Union Maj. Gen...

 failed to bring a Confederate breakthrough. When Bragg was defeated by Grant at Chattanooga on November 25, Longstreet was ordered to join forces with the Army of Tennessee in northern Georgia. He demurred and began to move back to Virginia, soon pursued by Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman in early December. The armies went into winter quarters and the First Corps rejoined the Army of Northern Virginia in the spring. The only real effect of the minor campaign was to deprive Bragg of troops he sorely needed in Chattanooga. Longstreet's second independent command (after Suffolk) was a failure and his self-confidence was damaged. He reacted to the failure of the campaign by blaming others, as he had done at Seven Pines. He relieved Lafayette McLaws from command and requested the court martial of Brig. Gens. Jerome B. Robertson
Jerome B. Robertson
Jerome Bonaparte Robertson was a doctor, Indian fighter, Texas politician, and a general in the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War...

 and Evander M. Law
Evander M. Law
Evander McIver Law was an author, teacher, and a Confederate general in the American Civil War.-Early life:...

. He also submitted a letter of resignation to Adjutant General Samuel Cooper
Samuel Cooper (general)
Samuel Cooper was a career United States Army officer, serving during the Second Seminole War and the Mexican-American War. Although little-known today, Cooper was also the highest ranking Confederate general during the American Civil War...

 on December 30, 1863, but his request to be relieved was denied.

As his corps suffered through a severe winter in Eastern Tennessee with inadequate shelter and provisions, Longstreet again developed strategic plans. He called for an offensive through Tennessee into Kentucky in which his command would be bolstered by P.G.T. Beauregard and 20,000 men. Although he had the concurrence of Gen. Lee, Longstreet was unable to convince President Davis or his newly appointed military advisor, Braxton Bragg.

Wilderness to Appomattox


Finding out that his old friend Ulysses Grant was in command of the Union Army, he told his fellow officers that "he will fight us every day and every hour until the end of the war." Longstreet helped save the Confederate Army from defeat in his first battle back with Lee's army, the Battle of the Wilderness
Battle of the Wilderness
The Battle of the Wilderness, fought May 5–7, 1864, was the first battle of Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant's 1864 Virginia Overland Campaign against Gen. Robert E. Lee and the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia. Both armies suffered heavy casualties, a harbinger of a bloody war of attrition by...

 in May 1864, where he launched a powerful flanking attack along the Orange Plank Road against the Union II Corps and nearly drove it from the field. Once again he developed innovative tactics to deal with difficult terrain, ordering the advance of six brigades by heavy skirmish lines, which allowed his men to deliver a continuous fire into the enemy, while proving to be elusive targets themselves. Wilderness historian Edward Steere attributed much of the success of the Army to "the display of tactical genius by Longstreet which more than redressed his disparity in numerical strength." After the war, the Union II Corps commander that day, Maj. Gen. Winfield S. Hancock
Winfield Scott Hancock
Winfield Scott Hancock was a career U.S. Army officer and the Democratic nominee for President of the United States in 1880. He served with distinction in the Army for four decades, including service in the Mexican-American War and as a Union general in the American Civil War...

, said to Longstreet of this flanking maneuver: "You rolled me up like a wet blanket."

Longstreet was wounded during the assault—accidentally shot by his own men only about 4 miles (6.4 km) away from the place where Jackson suffered the same fate a year earlier. A bullet passed through his shoulder, severing nerves, and tearing a gash in his throat. The momentum of the attack subsided without Longstreet's active leadership and Gen. Lee delayed further movement until units could be realigned. This gave the Union defenders adequate time to reorganize and the subsequent attack was a failure. E.P. Alexander
Edward Porter Alexander
Edward Porter Alexander was an engineer, an officer in the U.S. Army, a Confederate general in the American Civil War, and later a railroad executive, planter, and author....

 called the removal of Longstreet the critical juncture of the battle: "I have always believed that, but for Longstreet's fall, the panic which was fairly underway in Hancock's [II] Corps would have been extended & have resulted in Grant's being forced to retreat back across the Rapidan."

Longstreet missed the rest of the 1864 spring and summer campaign, where Lee sorely missed his skill in handling the army. He was treated in Lynchburg, Virginia
Lynchburg, Virginia
Lynchburg is an independent city in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The population was 75,568 as of 2010. Located in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains along the banks of the James River, Lynchburg is known as the "City of Seven Hills" or "The Hill City." Lynchburg was the only major city in...

, and recuperated in Augusta, Georgia, with his niece, Emma Eve Longstreet Sibley, the daughter of his brother Gilbert. While in Augusta, he participated in the funeral service for Lt. Gen. Leonidas Polk at Saint Paul's Church, joining the Bishops of Mississippi and Arkansas in casting earth onto the coffin. He rejoined Lee in October 1864, with his right arm paralyzed and in a sling, initially unable to ride a horse. He had taught himself to write with his left hand; by periodically pulling on his arm, as advised by doctors, he was able to regain use of his right hand in later years. For the remainder of the Siege of Petersburg
Siege of Petersburg
The Richmond–Petersburg Campaign was a series of battles around Petersburg, Virginia, fought from June 9, 1864, to March 25, 1865, during the American Civil War...

 he commanded the defenses in front of the capital of Richmond, including all forces north of the James River and Pickett's Division at Bermuda Hundred. He retreated with Lee in the Appomattox Campaign
Appomattox Campaign
The Appomattox Campaign was a series of battles fought March 29 – April 9, 1865, in Virginia that culminated in the surrender of Confederate General Robert E...

, commanding both the First and Third Corps, following the death of A.P. Hill on April 2. As Lee considered surrender, Longstreet advised him of his belief that Grant would treat them fairly, but as Lee rode toward Appomattox Court House
Appomattox Court House National Historical Park
The Appomattox Court House National Historical Park is a National Historical Park of original and reconstructed nineteenth century buildings. It was signed into law August 3, 1935. The village was made a national monument in 1940 and a national historical park in 1954...

 on April 9, 1865, Longstreet said, "General, if he does not give us good terms, come back and let us fight it out."

Postbellum



After the war, Longstreet and his family settled in New Orleans
New Orleans, Louisiana
New Orleans is a major United States port and the largest city and metropolitan area in the state of Louisiana. The New Orleans metropolitan area has a population of 1,235,650 as of 2009, the 46th largest in the USA. The New Orleans – Metairie – Bogalusa combined statistical area has a population...

, a location popular with a number of former Confederate generals. He entered into a cotton brokerage partnership there and also became the president of the newly created Great Southern and Western Fire, Marine and Accident Insurance Company. He actively sought the presidency of the Mobile and Ohio Railroad but was unsuccessful, and also failed in an attempt to get investors for a proposed railroad from New Orleans to Monterrey
Monterrey
Monterrey , is the capital city of the northeastern state of Nuevo León in the country of Mexico. The city is anchor to the third-largest metropolitan area in Mexico and is ranked as the ninth-largest city in the nation. Monterrey serves as a commercial center in the north of the country and is the...

, Mexico
Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

. (In 1870, he was named president of the newly organized New Orleans and Northeastern Railroad
New Orleans and Northeastern Railroad
The New Orleans and Northeastern Railroad was a Class I railroad in Louisiana and Mississippi in the United States. The railroad operated of track from its completion in 1883 until it was absorbed by the Alabama Great Southern Railroad subsidiary of the Southern Railway in 1969.- History :The...

.) He applied for a pardon from President Andrew Johnson
Andrew Johnson
Andrew Johnson was the 17th President of the United States . As Vice-President of the United States in 1865, he succeeded Abraham Lincoln following the latter's assassination. Johnson then presided over the initial and contentious Reconstruction era of the United States following the American...

, endorsed by his old friend Ulysses S. Grant. Johnson refused, however, telling Longstreet in a meeting: "There are three persons of the South who can never receive amnesty: Mr. Davis, General Lee, and yourself. You have given the Union cause too much trouble." The United States Congress restored his rights of citizenship in June 1868.

Longstreet was the only senior Confederate officer to join the Republican party during Reconstruction. He endorsed Grant for president in 1868, attended his inauguration ceremonies, and six days later received an appointment as surveyor of customs
United States Customs Service
Until March 2003, the United States Customs Service was an agency of the U.S. federal government that collected import tariffs and performed other selected border security duties.Before it was rolled into form part of the U.S...

 in New Orleans. For these acts he lost favor with many Southerners. His old friend Harvey Hill wrote to a newspaper: "Our scalawag
Scalawag
In United States history, scalawag was a derogatory nickname for southern whites who supported Reconstruction following the Civil War.-History:...

 is the local leper of the community." Unlike Northerners who moved South and were sometimes referred to as "carpetbaggers," Hill wrote, Longstreet "is a native, which is so much the worse." The Republican governor of Louisiana appointed Longstreet the adjutant general of the state militia and by 1872 he became a major general in command of all militia and state police forces within New Orleans. During protests of election irregularities in 1874, an armed force of 8,400 "White League" members advanced on the State House. Longstreet commanded a force of 3,600 Metropolitan Police, city policemen, and African-American militia troops, armed with two Gatling guns and a battery of artillery. He rode to meet the protesters but was pulled from his horse, shot by a spent bullet, and taken prisoner. The White League charged, causing many of Longstreet's men to flee or surrender. There were casualties of 38 killed and 79 wounded. Federal troops were required to restore order. Longstreet's use of black troops during the disturbances increased the denunciations by anti-Reconstructionists.


In 1875 the Longstreet family left New Orleans with concerns over health and safety, returning to Gainesville, Georgia
Gainesville, Georgia
-Severe Weather:Gainesville sits on the very fringe of Tornado Alley, a region of the United States where severe weather is common. Supercell thunderstorms can sweep through any time between March and November, but are concentrated most in the spring...

. By this time Louise had given birth to ten children, five of whom lived to adulthood. He applied for various jobs through the Rutherford B. Hayes
Rutherford B. Hayes
Rutherford Birchard Hayes was the 19th President of the United States . As president, he oversaw the end of Reconstruction and the United States' entry into the Second Industrial Revolution...

 administration and was briefly considered for Secretary of the Navy. He served briefly as deputy collector of internal revenue
Internal Revenue Service
The Internal Revenue Service is the revenue service of the United States federal government. The agency is a bureau of the Department of the Treasury, and is under the immediate direction of the Commissioner of Internal Revenue...

 and as postmaster of Gainesville. In 1880 Hayes appointed Longstreet as his ambassador
United States Ambassador to Turkey
The United States of America has maintained many high level contacts with Turkey since the nineteenth century.-Chargé d'Affaires:*George W. Erving *David Porter -Minister Resident:*David Porter *Dabney Smith Carr...

 to the Ottoman Empire
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

, and later he served from 1897 to 1904, under Presidents William McKinley
William McKinley
William McKinley, Jr. was the 25th President of the United States . He is best known for winning fiercely fought elections, while supporting the gold standard and high tariffs; he succeeded in forging a Republican coalition that for the most part dominated national politics until the 1930s...

 and Theodore Roosevelt
Theodore Roosevelt
Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt was the 26th President of the United States . He is noted for his exuberant personality, range of interests and achievements, and his leadership of the Progressive Movement, as well as his "cowboy" persona and robust masculinity...

, as U.S. Commissioner of Railroads.

On one of his frequent return trips to New Orleans on business, Longstreet converted to Catholicism
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

 in 1877 and was a devout believer until his death. He served as a U.S. Marshal from 1881 to 1884, but the return of a Democratic
Democratic Party (United States)
The Democratic Party is one of two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Republican Party. The party's socially liberal and progressive platform is largely considered center-left in the U.S. political spectrum. The party has the lengthiest record of continuous...

 administration ended his political careers and he went into semiretirement on a 65 acres (26.3 ha) farm near Gainesville, where he raised turkeys and planted orchards and vineyards on terraced ground that his neighbors referred to jokingly as "Gettysburg." A devastating fire on April 9, 1889 (the 24th anniversary of Lee's surrender at Appomattox) destroyed his house and many of his personal possessions, including his personal Civil War documents and memorabilia. That December Louise Longstreet died. He remarried in 1897, in a ceremony at the governor's mansion in Atlanta, to Helen Dortch
Helen Dortch Longstreet
Helen Dortch Longstreet , known as the "Fighting Lady," was the second wife of Confederate General James Longstreet. She earned her nickname from being a champion of causes such as preservation of the environment and civil rights...

, age 34. Although Longstreet's children reacted poorly to the marriage, Helen became a devoted wife and avid supporter of his legacy after his passing. She outlived him by 58 years, dying in 1962.

After Louise's death, and after bearing criticism of his war record from other Confederates for decades, Longstreet refuted most of their arguments in his memoirs entitled From Manassas to Appomattox, a labor of five years that was published in 1896. His final years were marked by poor health and partial deafness. In 1902 he suffered from severe rheumatism
Rheumatism
Rheumatism or rheumatic disorder is a non-specific term for medical problems affecting the joints and connective tissue. The study of, and therapeutic interventions in, such disorders is called rheumatology.-Terminology:...

 and was unable to stand for more than a few minutes at a time. His weight diminished from 200 to 135 pounds by January 1903. Cancer
Cancer
Cancer , known medically as a malignant neoplasm, is a large group of different diseases, all involving unregulated cell growth. In cancer, cells divide and grow uncontrollably, forming malignant tumors, and invade nearby parts of the body. The cancer may also spread to more distant parts of the...

 developed in his right eye, and in December he had X-ray therapy in Chicago to treat it. He contracted pneumonia
Pneumonia
Pneumonia is an inflammatory condition of the lung—especially affecting the microscopic air sacs —associated with fever, chest symptoms, and a lack of air space on a chest X-ray. Pneumonia is typically caused by an infection but there are a number of other causes...

 and died in Gainesville, where he is buried in Alta Vista Cemetery. He outlived most of his detractors, and was one of only a few general officers from the Civil War to live into the 20th century.

Legacy


Knudsen maintains that because Longstreet became a "reconstructed rebel", embraced equal rights for blacks, unification of the nation, and reconstruction, he became the target of those who wanted to maintain racist policies and otherwise could not accept the verdict of the battlefield. Criticism from authors in the Lost Cause
Lost Cause of the Confederacy
The Lost Cause is the name commonly given to an American literary and intellectual movement that sought to reconcile the traditional white society of the U.S. South to the defeat of the Confederate States of America in the American Civil War of 1861–1865...

 movement attacked Longstreet's war career for many years after his death. The attacks formally began on January 19, 1872, the anniversary of Robert E. Lee's birth, and less than two years after Lee's death. Jubal Early
Jubal Anderson Early
Jubal Anderson Early was a lawyer and Confederate general in the American Civil War. He served under Stonewall Jackson and then Robert E. Lee for almost the entire war, rising from regimental command to lieutenant general and the command of an infantry corps in the Army of Northern Virginia...

, in a speech at Washington College
Washington and Lee University
Washington and Lee University is a private liberal arts college in Lexington, Virginia, United States.The classical school from which Washington and Lee descended was established in 1749 as Augusta Academy, about north of its present location. In 1776 it was renamed Liberty Hall in a burst of...

, exonerated Lee of his failure at Gettysburg and falsely accused Longstreet of attacking late on the second day and of being responsible for the debacle on the third. The following year William N. Pendleton
William N. Pendleton
William Nelson Pendleton was an American teacher, Episcopal priest, and soldier. He served as a Confederate general during the American Civil War, noted for his position as Gen. Robert E. Lee's chief of artillery for most of the conflict...

, Lee's artillery chief, claimed in the same venue that Longstreet disobeyed an explicit order to attack at sunrise on July 2. Both of these allegations were fabrications; however, Longstreet failed to challenge these lies publicly until 1875. The delay was damaging to his reputation, as the Lost Cause mythology had taken hold in common opinion by this time. In the 20th century, Lost Cause "disciple" Douglas Southall Freeman, kept criticism of Longstreet foremost in Civil War scholarship in his biography of Lee. Clifford Dowdey, a Virginia newspaperman and novelist, was noted for his severe criticism of Longstreet in the 1950s and 1960s.

After Longstreet's death, his second wife Helen
Helen Dortch Longstreet
Helen Dortch Longstreet , known as the "Fighting Lady," was the second wife of Confederate General James Longstreet. She earned her nickname from being a champion of causes such as preservation of the environment and civil rights...

 privately published Lee and Longstreet at High Tide in his defense, in which she stated "the South was seditiously taught to believe that the Federal Victory was wholly the fortuitous outcome of the culpable disobedience of General Longstreet."

The publication of Michael Shaara
Michael Shaara
Michael Shaara was an American writer of science fiction, sports fiction, and historical fiction. He was born to Italian immigrant parents in Jersey City, New Jersey, graduated from Rutgers University in 1951, and served as a sergeant in the 82nd Airborne division...

's novel The Killer Angels
The Killer Angels
The Killer Angels is a historical novel by Michael Shaara that was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1975. The book tells the story of four days of the Battle of Gettysburg in the American Civil War: June 30, 1863, as the troops of both the Union and the Confederacy move into battle around...

in 1974, based in part on Longstreet's memoirs, followed by its 1993 film adaptation, Gettysburg, have been credited with helping to restore Longstreet's reputation as a general and to dramatically raise his public visibility. The 1982 work by Thomas L. Connolly and Barbara L. Bellows, God and General Longstreet, provided a "further upgrading of Longstreet through an attack on Lee, the Lost Cause, and the Virginia revisionists."

Jeffry D. Wert wrote that "Longstreet ... was the finest corps commander in the Army of Northern Virginia; in fact, he was arguably the best corps commander in the conflict on either side." Richard L. DiNardo wrote "Even Longstreet's most virulent critics have conceded that he put together the best staff employed by any commander, and that his de facto chief of staff
Chief of Staff
The title, chief of staff, identifies the leader of a complex organization, institution, or body of persons and it also may identify a Principal Staff Officer , who is the coordinator of the supporting staff or a primary aide to an important individual, such as a president.In general, a chief of...

, Lieutenant Colonel
Lieutenant colonel
Lieutenant colonel is a rank of commissioned officer in the armies and most marine forces and some air forces of the world, typically ranking above a major and below a colonel. The rank of lieutenant colonel is often shortened to simply "colonel" in conversation and in unofficial correspondence...

 G. Moxley Sorrel
Moxley Sorrel
Gilbert Moxley Sorrel was a Confederate States Army officer and historian of the Confederacy.-Early life:Sorrel was born in Savannah, Georgia, the son of one of the wealthiest men in the city, Francis Sorrel. He was the brother-in-law of William W...

, was the best staff officer in the Confederacy." DiNardo cited the effective way in which Longstreet delegated responsibilities for control of battlefield movements to his staff and how they were able to communicate with him more effectively during battles than the staffs of other Confederate generals during the war.

In memoriam


Longstreet is remembered through numerous places that bear his name in and around Gainesville, Georgia
Gainesville, Georgia
-Severe Weather:Gainesville sits on the very fringe of Tornado Alley, a region of the United States where severe weather is common. Supercell thunderstorms can sweep through any time between March and November, but are concentrated most in the spring...

, including Longstreet Bridge, a portion of U.S. Route 129
U.S. Route 129
U.S. Route 129 is an offshoot route of U.S. Route 29, which it intersects near Athens, Georgia. US 129 currently runs for 582 miles from Knoxville, Tennessee, to Chiefland, Florida, at U.S. Route 19 and U.S. Route 98. It passes through the states of Tennessee, North Carolina, Georgia and Florida...

 that crosses the Chattahoochee River
Chattahoochee River
The Chattahoochee River flows through or along the borders of the U.S. states of Georgia, Alabama, and Florida. It is a tributary of the Apalachicola River, a relatively short river formed by the confluence of the Chattahoochee and Flint Rivers and emptying into Apalachicola Bay in the Gulf of...

 (later dammed to form Lake Sidney Lanier), and the local Longstreet Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy
United Daughters of the Confederacy
The United Daughters of the Confederacy is a women's heritage association dedicated to honoring the memory of those who served in the military and died in service to the Confederate States of America . UDC began as the National Association of the Daughters of the Confederacy, organized in 1894 by...

.

Longstreet Road is a major east-west road at Fort Bragg
Fort Bragg, North Carolina
Fort Bragg is a major United States Army installation, in Cumberland and Hoke counties, North Carolina, U.S., mostly in Fayetteville but also partly in the town of Spring Lake. It was also a census-designated place in the 2010 census and had a population of 39,457. The fort is named for Confederate...

, North Carolina
North Carolina
North Carolina is a state located in the southeastern United States. The state borders South Carolina and Georgia to the south, Tennessee to the west and Virginia to the north. North Carolina contains 100 counties. Its capital is Raleigh, and its largest city is Charlotte...

.
In 1998, one of the last monuments erected at Gettysburg National Military Park
Gettysburg Battlefield
The Gettysburg Battlefield is the area of the July 1–3, 1863, military engagements of the Battle of Gettysburg within and around the borough of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Locations of military engagements extend from the 4 acre site of the first shot & at on the west of the borough, to East...

 was dedicated as a belated tribute to Longstreet, an equestrian statue by sculptor Gary Casteel. He is shown riding on a depiction of his favorite horse, Hero, at ground level in a grove of trees in Pitzer Woods—unlike most generals, who are elevated on tall bases overlooking the battlefield.

The Longstreet Society is an organization and museum in Gainesville, dedicated to the celebration and study of his life and career.

In popular media


Longstreet is a character in Harry Turtledove
Harry Turtledove
Harry Norman Turtledove is an American novelist, who has produced works in several genres including alternate history, historical fiction, fantasy and science fiction.- Life :...

's alternate history
Alternate history (fiction)
Alternate history or alternative history is a genre of fiction consisting of stories that are set in worlds in which history has diverged from the actual history of the world. It can be variously seen as a sub-genre of literary fiction, science fiction, and historical fiction; different alternate...

 novel, How Few Remain
How Few Remain
How Few Remain is a 1997 alternate history novel by Harry Turtledove. It is the first part of the Southern Victory Series saga, which depicts a world in which the Confederacy won the American Civil War. The book received the Sidewise Award for Alternate History in 1997, and was also nominated for...

, and in Robert Conroy
Robert Conroy
-Writing career:*His first novel, 1901, deals with a German invasion of Long Island.*His second novel, 1862, is based on what might have happened had the United Kingdom entered into the American Civil War on the side of the Confederacy....

's alternate history novel, 1901. He is portrayed in the film Gettysburg by Tom Berenger
Tom Berenger
Tom Berenger is an American actor known mainly for his roles in action films.-Early life:Berenger was born as Thomas Michael Moore in Chicago to an Irish Catholic family. Berenger's father was a printer for the Chicago Sun-Times. Berenger has a sister, Susan...

, and in the prequel
Prequel
A prequel is a work that supplements a previously completed one, and has an earlier time setting.The widely recognized term was a 20th-century neologism, and a portmanteau from pre- and sequel...

, Gods and Generals
Gods and Generals (film)
Gods and Generals is a 2003 American film based on the novel Gods and Generals by Jeffrey Shaara. It depicts events that take place prior to those shown in the 1993 film Gettysburg, which was based on The Killer Angels, a novel by Shaara's father, Michael...

, by Bruce Boxleitner
Bruce Boxleitner
Bruce William Boxleitner is an American actor, and science fiction and suspense writer. He is known for his leading roles in the television series How the West Was Won, Bring 'Em Back Alive, Scarecrow and Mrs. King , and Babylon 5...

. He was portrayed onstage in the world premiere of The Killer Angels at the Lifeline Theatre
Lifeline Theatre
- Mission :Lifeline Theatre specializes in original literary adaptations. Its ensemble of artists uses imaginative, unconventional staging to portray sprawling stories in an intimate space. Lifeline is committed to promoting the arts in its Rogers Park neighborhood and is an anchor of the Glenwood...

 in Chicago by Brian Amidei.

Further reading

  • DiNardo, Richard L. James Longstreet: The Man, the Soldier, the Controversy. Conshohocken, PA: Combined Publishing, 1998. ISBN 0-938289-96-9.
  • Eckenrode, Hamilton J., and Bryan Conrad. James Longstreet: Lee's War Horse. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1986. ISBN 0-8078-1690-6. First published 1936 by University of North Carolina Press.
  • Freeman, Douglas S.
    Douglas S. Freeman
    Douglas Southall Freeman was an American historian, biographer, newspaper editor, and author. He is best known for his multi-volume biographies of Robert E...

     Lee's Lieutenants: A Study in Command. 3 vols. New York: Scribner, 1946. ISBN 0-684-85979-3.
  • Freeman, Douglas S. R. E. Lee, A Biography. 4 vols. New York: Scribner, 1934.
  • Longstreet, Helen Dortch. Lee and Longstreet at High Tide: Gettysburg in Light of the Official Records. Gainesville, GA: self-published, 1904. .
  • Mendoza, Alexander. Confederate Struggle For Command: General James Longstreet and the First Corps in the West. College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 2008. ISBN 1-60344-052-6.
  • Piston, William G. Lee's Tarnished Lieutenant: James Longstreet and His Place in Southern History. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1990. ISBN 0-8203-0907-9.
  • Reardon, Carol. I Have Been a Soldier All My Life": Gen. James Longstreet, CSA. Gettysburg, PA: Farnsworth Military Impressions, 1997. ISBN 0-9643632-9-1.

External links