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 suggests that General Lee's pugnacity got the better of his strategy at Gettysburg.
"It was at Gettysburg," resumed General Longstreet, "where General Lee's pugnacity got the better of his strategy and judgement and came near being fatal to his army and cause. On the third day, when I said to him that no fifteen thousand soldiers the world ever produced could make the march of a mile under that tremendous artillery and musketry fire and break the Federal line along Cemetery Ridge, he determinedly replied that the enemy was there and that he must attack. His blood was up. All the vast interests at stake and the improbability of success would not deter him. In the immediate presence of the enemy, General Lee's mind, at all other times calm and clear, became excited. The same may be said of McClellan, Gustavas Smith, and most other highly educated, theoretical soldiers. Now, while I was popularly called a fighting general, it was entirely different with me. When the enemy was in sight I was content to wait for the most favorable moment to strike---to estimate chances and even decline battle if I thought them against me. There was no element in the situation that compelled General Lee to fight the odds at Gettysburg.
"General Lee had the absolute confidence of his own troops and the almost unquestioning support of his subordinates. He had, by a series of successes, completely overawed the Federal commander, and was wholesomely feared by the Federal rank and file, who undoubtedly considered him the easy superior of their own generals. These were tremendous advantages."
Interview: Reprinted from the Washington Post of June 1893, the interview appeared in The Times Dispatch. (Richmond, VA.), November 12, 1911, page 3.
Map: Gettysburg Battlefield Memorial Association. Gettysburg and vicinity, showing the position of the troops July 3,third day's fight... 1863. https://www.loc.gov/item/99447229/.
Note: This post is Part 14 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 1-13, 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
<Up next - Longstreet on Meade.>
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