Interview: Longstreet says Second Manassas was Lee's Best Battle

lelliott19

Captain
Forum Host
Silver Patron
Joined
Mar 15, 2013
Messages
5,821
Lonstreet on lees best battle.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's opines on Lee's best tactical battle.

"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.
@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.
 
Last edited:

Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

nc native

Sergeant
Joined
Aug 30, 2011
Messages
561
Location
NC Piedmont
Second Manassas was definitely one of the high points of General Lee's career as the leader
of the army of Northern Virginia. Longstreet's attack on day three of that battle with around
25,000 men was massive and overwhelmed the forces arrayed against them. Many historians
suggest that Chancellorsville was Lee's military masterpiece but Jackson was responsible for
much of the Confederate success in that fight. Longstreet was in Suffolk during Chancellorsville
so it makes sense to me that he would pick Second Manassas as Lee's greatest success.

One of my ancestors in my signature was wounded at Second Manassas. Lt. James P. Glenn
of the 18th Virginia Infantry was shot in the thigh during the decisive attack on August 3o,
1862. He spent about ten months convalescing at home and missed the Maryland Invasion
and Fredericksburg before returning to action just before Gettysburg were he was wounded
once again during Pickett's charge and captured. He was sent to Johnson's Island, Ohio and
paroled on March 30, 1865, too late to do any more fighting before the Civil War had ended.
He did receive a promotion to Captain upon his release from Johnson's Island.
 

Andy Cardinal

Sergeant Major
Forum Host
Joined
Feb 27, 2017
Messages
2,006
Location
Ohio
I find Longstreet's assessment of Pope as "an enterprising soldier, and a fighter," to be the most interesting part of his comments.
 

jackt62

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Jul 28, 2015
Messages
3,326
Location
New York City
Agreed. Second Manassas was Lee's greatest victory. Unlike purely defensive victories like Fredricksburg or Chancellorsville, or unsettled or disappointing outcomes such as Sharpsburg or Gettysburg, Second Manassas was a brilliant offensive move by Lee and the ANV, which (although not decisive in that federal forces were not totally vanquished), certainly ended the threat posed by Pope's Army of Virginia.
 

ErnieMac

Brigadier General
Moderator
Forum Host
Silver Patron
Joined
May 3, 2013
Messages
8,854
Location
Pennsylvania
I agree with Longstreet, this was probably Lee's finest victory. I do find it interesting that Longstreet's criticism of Lee's generalship focuses on his offensive abilities, but then considers the offensive victory at Second Manassas his greatest battle.
 

War Horse

Captain
Forum Host
Member of the Year
Regtl. Quartermaster Gettysburg 2017
Joined
Sep 4, 2014
Messages
6,559
Location
Lexington, SC
I agree with Longstreet, this was probably Lee's finest victory. I do find it interesting that Longstreet's criticism of Lee's generalship focuses on his offensive abilities, but then considers the offensive victory at Second Manassas his greatest battle.
Does it count if Pope thought Lee was on the defensive. :hot:
 

Drew

Major
Joined
Oct 22, 2012
Messages
7,813
Second Manassas was definitely one of the high points of General Lee's career as the leader
of the army of Northern Virginia. Longstreet's attack on day three of that battle with around
25,000 men was massive and overwhelmed the forces arrayed against them. Many historians
suggest that Chancellorsville was Lee's military masterpiece but Jackson was responsible for
much of the Confederate success in that fight. Longstreet was in Suffolk during Chancellorsville
so it makes sense to me that he would pick Second Manassas as Lee's greatest success.

One of my ancestors in my signature was wounded at Second Manassas. Lt. James P. Glenn
of the 18th Virginia Infantry was shot in the thigh during the decisive attack on August 3o,
1862. He spent about ten months convalescing at home and missed the Maryland Invasion
and Fredericksburg before returning to action just before Gettysburg were he was wounded
once again during Pickett's charge and captured. He was sent to Johnson's Island, Ohio and
paroled on March 30, 1865, too late to do any more fighting before the Civil War had ended.
He did receive a promotion to Captain upon his release from Johnson's Island.
Yes, Longstreet was not at Chancellorsville, ergo, 2nd Manassas was the greatest Confederate victory, ever. (Longstreet was of course part of the latter).

It’s funny one’s own participation determines Great Moments in history. Not that Longstreet was wrong, of course.

Just ‘sayin.
 


Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!
Top