James Longstreet (1821-1904): Confederate General, Catholic Convert

CMWinkler

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#1
James Longstreet (1821-1904): Confederate General, Catholic Convert

May 27, 2013 By Pat McNamara Leave a Comment
General-Longstreet-209x300.jpg
Soldier and Catholic convert. Born 8 January, 1821, at Edgefield, South Carolina, U.S.A.; died at Gainesville, Georgia, 2 January, 1904. In 1831 he moved to Alabama with his parents, and was thence appointed to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, where he graduated in 1842. For his services in the Mexican War he was brevetted major and in 1852 was commissioned captain.

For the rest: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/mcnama...904-confederate-general-catholic-convert.html
 

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#2
The article linked above is frustratingly short and superficial.

For a little bit of insight as to why Longstreet became Catholic, check out this brief article at The American Catholic.

It was in New Orleans on March 7, 1877 that Longstreet converted to the Catholic faith. His conversion was brought about by Father Abram J. Ryan, the poet laureate of the Confederacy, and the subject of a future post here at The American Catholic. An Episcopalian, Longstreet had noticed that the pews were vacated around him when he went to worship. Father Ryan assured him that in the Catholic Church people came to Mass to worship God and not to give vent to political animosities. Longstreet remained a devout Catholic until his death in 1904.
But for a really beautiful portrait of Longstreet, which includes all the information at the above link, but oh, so much more, treat yourself to this wonderful tribute to the man at (I love this blog's name!) The Catholic Nerd.
 
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#3
Now if you're really, really a history buff (and particularly, a Longstreet buff), and you can manage to plow through an article in wide-screen format, you really owe it to yourself to check out this wonderful, enlightening essay, General James Longstreet in New Orleans, which was named the Outstanding History Senior Thesis at Loyola University for 2003.

It's a great paper, and really gives you a window into how vicious things were down South even after "peace" had been declared. God bless Pete Longstreet for all he tried to do to effect racial reconciliation -- he almost lost his life in the effort. And as far as his conversion to Catholicism is concerned, this paper chalks up that development in part to the ordeal Longstreet endured while battling the hateful White League.

Three years after the Battle of Liberty Place, on March 7, 1877, James Longstreet converted to Catholicism. Research located in the Georgetown University Archives revealed a letter in which Father Semper of the New Orleans Jesuits comments about the conversion of Longstreet.31 Semper writes that when Longstreet had lost the battle of Liberty Place that, “Pain to the General’s heart from the familiar voices opened his eyes to vanity of the world and to supernatural grace.”32
 
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#4
The article linked above is frustratingly short and superficial.

For a little bit of insight as to why Longstreet became Catholic, check out this brief article at The American Catholic.

It was in New Orleans on March 7, 1877 that Longstreet converted to the Catholic faith. His conversion was brought about by Father Abram J. Ryan, the poet laureate of the Confederacy, and the subject of a future post here at The American Catholic. An Episcopalian, Longstreet had noticed that the pews were vacated around him when he went to worship. Father Ryan assured him that in the Catholic Church people came to Mass to worship God and not to give vent to political animosities. Longstreet remained a devout Catholic until his death in 1904.
But for a really beautiful portrait of Longstreet, which includes all the information at the above link, but oh, so much more, treat yourself to this wonderful tribute to the man at (I love this blog's name!) The Catholic Nerd.
I still miss Father Ryan's home in Biloxi, MS.
That home was a landmark on Beach Blvd (aka Hwy 90).

The Palm Tree growing through the front steps, made his
home as familiar as Jeff Davis' Beauvoir .

Unfortunately, Hurricane Katrina demolished the Father Ryan home.

Before & after photos of the Father Ryan home,
Father-Ryan.jpg

http://www.louisianaphotos.com/Katrina/B_A/Biloxi.html
 

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#5
Thanks for this! My parents improbably ( Dad was a retired Lutheran minister ) converted at a pretty late age- hysterical, but only because well, talk about Lutheran! Gee whiz. Anyway, Mom wandered over not long ago with a copy of whichever Catholic paper she subscribes to, said ' Thought you'd be interested in this'. It was this exact topic, with a super, super article. Enjoyed it, unsurprising though given where it came from. Scholarship? Oi. My Godfather is a Mnsgr., although was not wayyyy back then, plain, old Father. The man is in the second half of his 80's, still flying around to Haiti, places requiring help, Lebanon, nothing stops him.

Wow, strayed from Longstreet or what? It was enlightening, have to say- I'd gotten the impression it was not a great atmosphere for Catholics 150 years ago, still archaic in the United States. Nice to see either I was wrong or Longstreet as usual did not care what anyone thought.

OH my gosh, what a dreadful photo of Father Ryan's home!! So, so sorry!!
 

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#6
Now if you're really, really a history buff (and particularly, a Longstreet buff), and you can manage to plow through an article in wide-screen format, you really owe it to yourself to check out this wonderful, enlightening essay, General James Longstreet in New Orleans, which was named the Outstanding History Senior Thesis at Loyola University for 2003.

It's a great paper, and really gives you a window into how vicious things were down South even after "peace" had been declared. God bless Pete Longstreet for all he tried to do to effect racial reconciliation -- he almost lost his life in the effort. And as far as his conversion to Catholicism is concerned, this paper chalks up that development in part to the ordeal Longstreet endured while battling the hateful White League.

Three years after the Battle of Liberty Place, on March 7, 1877, James Longstreet converted to Catholicism. Research located in the Georgetown University Archives revealed a letter in which Father Semper of the New Orleans Jesuits comments about the conversion of Longstreet.31 Semper writes that when Longstreet had lost the battle of Liberty Place that, “Pain to the General’s heart from the familiar voices opened his eyes to vanity of the world and to supernatural grace.”32
These links were much appreciated. Thanks for posting them. Thanks, too, to Brig. Gen Winkler for launching this thread.
 
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#8
Thanks for this! My parents improbably ( Dad was a retired Lutheran minister ) converted at a pretty late age- hysterical, but only because well, talk about Lutheran! Gee whiz. Anyway, Mom wandered over not long ago with a copy of whichever Catholic paper she subscribes to, said ' Thought you'd be interested in this'. It was this exact topic, with a super, super article. Enjoyed it, unsurprising though given where it came from. Scholarship? Oi. My Godfather is a Mnsgr., although was not wayyyy back then, plain, old Father. The man is in the second half of his 80's, still flying around to Haiti, places requiring help, Lebanon, nothing stops him.

Wow, strayed from Longstreet or what? It was enlightening, have to say- I'd gotten the impression it was not a great atmosphere for Catholics 150 years ago, still archaic in the United States. Nice to see either I was wrong or Longstreet as usual did not care what anyone thought.

OH my gosh, what a dreadful photo of Father Ryan's home!! So, so sorry!!
My impression from all the articles linked above was that Longstreet had become a pariah everywhere in the South, including even in his own church -- and that that was when Fr. Ryan encouraged him to come find a home in the Catholic Church. While the Catholic Church would have been less despised in New Orleans than anyplace else down south, I think it was probably still very much a move against the tide for Longstreet to join it. As you said, Longstreet didn't give a d@mn what anybody thought. I do wonder what his wife thought, though. Sometimes spouses can feel wounded by such a move (talking from experience here). Did she also convert? (Seen that happen, too.) Doesn't say.

Your grandfather sounds like an awesome guy. Indefatigability seems to run in your family!
 
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kevikens

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#9
The Catholic Church, as an institution, tried to keep its clergy out of politics when possible. During the war the Papacy maintained a strict neutrality, although on one occasion, the Vatican engaged in a correspondence with Confederate officials that could be construed as close to diplomatic recognition. Although the Catholic Church frowned on chattel slavery it did not officially condemn the institution per se but recommended emancipation as a charitable act and did require that any slaves be treated as properly as any other human. The Church was more interested in eternity than history and was primarily an institution trying to save souls, not lives, and did not teach that slave holding was a bar to the sacraments, nor a sin, nor a disqualification from one's salvation. The dogma and ritual of the Episcopal Church, at least the High Episcopal Church, was not that much different from that of the Catholic Church, except for the liturgy being mostly in Latin, so I imagine making the leap from the one to the other was not all that difficult for a Southern gentleman.
 

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#15
James Longstreet (1821-1904): Confederate General, Catholic Convert

May 27, 2013 By Pat McNamara Leave a Comment
General-Longstreet-209x300.jpg
Soldier and Catholic convert. Born 8 January, 1821, at Edgefield, South Carolina, U.S.A.; died at Gainesville, Georgia, 2 January, 1904. In 1831 he moved to Alabama with his parents, and was thence appointed to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, where he graduated in 1842. For his services in the Mexican War he was brevetted major and in 1852 was commissioned captain.

For the rest: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/mcnama...904-confederate-general-catholic-convert.html
CMWinkler,

Thanks for taking the time and effort to post such an informative and interesing article.

Sincerely,
Unionblue
 

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#17
My impression from all the articles linked above was that Longstreet had become a pariah everywhere in the South, including even in his own church -- and that that was when Fr. Ryan encouraged him to come find a home in the Catholic Church. While the Catholic Church would have been less despised in New Orleans than anyplace else down south, I think it was probably still very much a move against the tide for Longstreet to join it. As you said, Longstreet didn't give a d@mn what anybody thought. I do wonder what his wife thought, though. Sometimes spouses can feel wounded by such a move (talking from experience here). Did she also convert? (Seen that happen, too.) Doesn't say.

Your grandfather sounds like an awesome guy. Indefatigability seems to run in your family!
Some of the Episcopal churches in New Orleans had been founded by Leonidas Polk and continued to take orders from him even after the city was surrendered. They may have been very unsympathetic places for Longstreet.

Prior to the War, Polk had been involved in establishing Episcopal churches as part of a greater effort to wrest political control from the remnants of Spanish and French powers in Louisiana. So, for Longstreet to join Irish and German immigrants and the old French and Spanish families in the Catholic Church may not have seemed so odd, at least in New Orleans.
 

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#19
James Longstreet (1821-1904): Confederate General, Catholic Convert

May 27, 2013 By Pat McNamara Leave a Comment
View attachment 149144 Soldier and Catholic convert. Born 8 January, 1821, at Edgefield, South Carolina, U.S.A.; died at Gainesville, Georgia, 2 January, 1904. In 1831 he moved to Alabama with his parents, and was thence appointed to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, where he graduated in 1842. For his services in the Mexican War he was brevetted major and in 1852 was commissioned captain.

For the rest: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/mcnama...904-confederate-general-catholic-convert.html
I keep coming back to this. I mean no offense but the truth is this is wrong. James never lived in Alabama, His mother moved to Morgan County in Northern Alabama near Gainesville after the death of her husband (James Sr) in 1833. He died while visiting Augusta from a cholera epidemic. James remained at Westover with his uncle Augustus and aunt Frances, Mary's (James mother) decision to move hundreds of miles away all but ended James visits. Instead he remained at Westover.

All the Georgia appointments to West Point Military Academy were filled and there simply wasn't one for James. Augustus used James' mothers new address to his advantage. He petitioned his kinsman Ruben Chapman, whose First District of Alabama included Morgan County where Mary lived. John Calhoun and Governor George McDuffie of South Carolina used their influence as well. Congressman Chapmen presented James to Secretary of War Joel R. Poinsett resulting in Jame's appointment. James accepted it in March of 1838.

That's how the whole West Point Appointment Came about via Alabama. James never personally lived there but his mother did.
 
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