Interview: Longstreet on Gettysburg Controversies

lelliott19

1st Lieutenant
Forum Host
Silver Patron
Joined
Mar 15, 2013
Messages
4,631
#1
Controversies.JPG
On the occasion of Longstreet's visit to Antietam in 1893, a correspondent of the Washington Post recorded the General's opinions on a number of topics. In this part of the interview, General Longstreet discusses controversies after Gettysburg.

...The general then proceeded to discuss some of the controversies at the South concerning Gettysburg, and said with some feeling that a deliberate attempt had been made by ignorant demagogues to mislead the people as to his relations with Lee at the battle and afterward. He stated positively that Lee personally had never criticized or found fault with his operations on that field. I therefore asked: "I have heard it intimated, general, by some prejudiced people, that Lee, on account of coldness growing out of Gettysburg, to be rid of you, brought about your transfer to the West."

General Longstreet smiled at this suggestion and answered promptly: "On the contrary, he was at first strongly opposed to my going, and suggested another advance into Maryland that fall instead. I first proposed going West in the Spring of 1863, after Chancellorsville. I firmly believed up to Gettysburg and Vicksburg that we could win by concentrating an overwhelming force suddenly against Rosecrans. After whipping him and establishing ourselves on the Ohio, I held that the Mississippi Valley would instantly have cleared itself up to the Ohio's mouth, as Grant would have been withdrawn to defend Ohio and Indiana. This would have saved to the Confederacy some sixty thousand men lost at Vicksburg, Port Hudson and Gettysburg.

"The proposal was coldly received by the Richmond authorities. They preferred to meet the enemy in the West with detachments; always with the weaker force at the point of contact. After Vicksburg and Gettysburg, when the darker clouds began to gather, I suggested it again to Lee, and wrote urging it upon Secretary Seddon. General Lee eventually went down to Richmond upon this business, and the Western concentration was finally agreed upon. Something had to be done. In fact, it was then too late; we were too weak everywhere to effect the concentration of the forces I considered necessary to accomplish Rosecrans's[sic] destruction."
Interview: Reprinted from the Washington Post of June 1893, the interview appeared in The Times Dispatch. (Richmond, VA.), November 12, 1911, page 3.
Image: http://porterbriggs.com/james-longstreet/

Note: This post is Part 16 of a series on Longstreet's opinions of various Generals, expressed during an interview with a Washington Post corespondent in 1893. Longstreet's opinions on various generals are posted in separate threads so they can be easily located - Bragg, Jackson, A P Hill, Early, Ewell, Pickett, Sheridan, Joe Johnston, Beauregard, Hood, Jeff Davis, Lee, McClellan, and more. Here are the links to Parts 1-15, posted previously:
Part 1 - Intro to the article
Part 2 - Longstreet on Bragg
Part 3 - Longstreet on Jackson
Part 4 - Longstreet on AP Hill
Part 5 - Longstreet on Ewell & Early
Part 6 - Longstreet on Pickett, Sheridan, Five Forks & the Timing of the Surrender
Part 7 - Longstreet on Joe Johnston
Part 8 - Longstreet on Beauregard
Part 9 - Longstreet on Hood
Part 10 - Longstreet on Lee's military attributes
Part 11 - Lee's Best Battle
Part 12 - Lee's Poorest Generalship
Part 13 - Lee's greatest weakness as tactical commander
Part 14 - Lee's tactical weakness at Gettysburg
Part 15 - Meade's Lost Opportunity

<Up next - Longstreet on his relationship with Lee post-Gettysburg.>
@Eleanor Rose @Union_Buff @FarawayFriend @War Horse @novushomus @GELongstreet @LeesWarhorse @Tom Elmore @Coonewah Creek @Yankeedave @Andy Cardinal @PeterT @Zella If you aren't tagged and would like to receive notification when these are posted, let me know and Ill tag you in future ones.
 

(Membership has it privileges! To remove this ad: Register NOW!)

Eleanor Rose

1st Lieutenant
Forum Host
Joined
Nov 26, 2016
Messages
4,739
Location
central NC
#5
I therefore asked: "I have heard it intimated, general, by some prejudiced people, that Lee, on account of coldness growing out of Gettysburg, to be rid of you, brought about your transfer to the West."
As I understand it, the decision to send General Longstreet to the Western theater was a last minute one - after Knoxville fell to one Federal army and Chattanooga to another. In fact, General Longstreet made the case for a strategic concentration in Tennessee on more than one occasion. He first made the case for it in May, 1863, after Lee’s victory at Chancellorsville. General Lee strongly opposed it.
 

James N.

Major
Forum Host
Civil War Photo Contest
Annual Winner
Featured Book Reviewer
Joined
Feb 23, 2013
Messages
9,971
Location
East Texas
#8
View attachment 210110 … ...The general then proceeded to discuss some of the controversies at the South concerning Gettysburg, and said with some feeling that a deliberate attempt had been made by ignorant demagogues to mislead the people as to his relations with Lee at the battle and afterward. He stated positively that Lee personally had never criticized or found fault with his operations on that field. I therefore asked: "I have heard it intimated, general, by some prejudiced people, that Lee, on account of coldness growing out of Gettysburg, to be rid of you, brought about your transfer to the West."
I'm shock - I say, SHOCKED! I can't imagine who he could possibly have in mind - much less that any scoundrel would do such a thing! (Old Jube/Pendleton, anyone?)
 

Eleanor Rose

1st Lieutenant
Forum Host
Joined
Nov 26, 2016
Messages
4,739
Location
central NC
#10
Longstreet's "memories" were often at odds with his writings at the time of the events, as this excerpt clearly demonstrates.
How does this particular excerpt clearly demonstrate this? I'm not asking to be argumentative. I'm just not sure where you see discrepancies within this particular excerpt. I know there are discrepancies in Longstreet's memoir.
 
Joined
Sep 29, 2009
Messages
295
Location
Marfa, Texas
#12
How does this particular excerpt clearly demonstrate this? I'm not asking to be argumentative. I'm just not sure where you see discrepancies within this particular excerpt. I know there are discrepancies in Longstreet's memoir.
Hi,

Texas Senator Louis Trezevant Wigfall was one of Longstreet's confidants in the Confederate government. Wigfall was a "Western Solutionist," meaning that he favored pulling forces from Lee's army and shipping them west. Longstreet's letter to Wigfall dated May 13, 1863 (Library of Congress, Louis T. Wigfall Papers) is totally at odds with his later memory concerning this subject, specifically with the second paragraph of this excerpt (a significant portion of Longstreet's later-in-life claims about Lee and The War can be easily impeached by his own writings made at or close to the time of the events).

I discuss this at length in Last Chance for Victory: Robert E. Lee and the Gettysburg Campaign.

Regards,
 
Last edited:



(Membership has it privileges! To remove this ad: Register NOW!)
Top