"General Longstreet, which do you consider General Lee's best battle?"
"Well," responded the general, reflectively, "perhaps, the second battle of Manassas was, all things considered, the best tactical battle General Lee ever fought. The grand strategy of the campaign also was fine, and seems to have completely deceived General Pope. Indeed, Pope failed to comprehend General Lee's purpose from start to finish, and, on August 30, when I was preparing to push him off the Warrenton Pike, he still imagined us to be in retreat, and his most unfortunate movements were based on that false assumption. Had Pope comprehended the true situation as early as the afternoon of August 28, as I think he ought, it might have gone hard with Jackson before I arrived. Pope was outgeneraled and outclassed by Lee, and through improper dispositions his fine firm<?> army was outfought. Still, it will not do to under rate Pope: he was an enterprising soldier, and a fighter. His movements in all the earlier stages of that campaign were excellent for his purpose to temporarily hold the lines first of the Rapidan and then the Rappahannock. In the secondary affair with Banks at Cedar Mountain, we had gained quite a success, yet Pope promptly concentrated and forced Jackson back again over the river.
I said to the general that I thought the world generally would agree with him as to that campaign, and then asked him in which of the battles he thought Lee displayed his poorest generalship.
<Up next, Longstreet's opinion on Lee's poorest generalship - the answer may surprise you.>
Note: This post is Part 11 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 1-10, 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
Source: Reprinted from the Washington Post of June 1893, the interview appeared in The Times Dispatch. (Richmond, VA.), November 12, 1911, page 3.
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