Longstreet’s Second Lady

Bee

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Generation Gap: Former Confederate general James Longstreet and his second wife, Helen Dortch, were 42 years apart in age. This image was taken in 1900, four years before the general’s death.

Longstreet’s Second Lady

By John Banks
APRIL 2018 • CIVIL WAR TIMES MAGAZINE

The general’s remarkable second wife defended her husband’s reputation, championed black rights, and built World War II bombers

Despite being Robert E. Lee’s sturdy lieutenant during the Civil War, James Longstreet was vilified throughout much of the South after the war because of his Republican Party allegiance and service in President Ulysses Grant’s administration. The former Confederate lieutenant general led an almost solitary existence in his mansion set among an extensive vineyard in Gainesville, Ga. His sons had left after their mother Mary Louisa’s death in 1889, and his daughter later married a local schoolteacher, leaving Longstreet in the house with only the company of a servant.

In late July 1897, the 76-year-old Longstreet became smitten with Helen Dortch—his daughter’s friend and 42 years his junior—whom he had met in Lithia Springs, Ga. Soon the press caught wind of rumors that he might take another bride. Longstreet played coy with a persistent New York reporter before he finally confirmed the news.

“The General crossed his legs, looked out over the fields again, and replied: ‘Oh, pshaw! Well, I suppose I might as well give in,’” The New York Times reported. “I am to be married to Miss Dortch at noon on Wednesday in the Governor’s residence in Atlanta. The honeymoon is to be spent in Porter Springs, where I hope you newspaper men will leave an old man to the happiness he has acquired.”

MORE HERE http://www.historynet.com/longstreets-second-lady.htm?utm_source=Twitter&utm_medium=Socialflow

Just for you, @FarawayFriend & @Eleanor Rose !!!!

 

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pamc153PA

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I always liked her spunk. Helen Dortch Longstreet was quite a woman.

From History by Zim:

Helen Dortch Longstreet worked as a riveter during World War II. Employed as a war worker at Bell Aircraft plant in Atlanta, Georgia, Helen was the widow of General James Longstreet – who participated in Civil War battles such as the Second Bull Run, Chickamauga, Antietam, and Gettysburg. If you’re trying to figure out how a widow of a Civil War general could possibly be working as a riveter during World War II, you have to keep a few things in mind.

When she married Longstreet in Atlanta’s Executive Mansion in 1897, Longstreet was 76 years old while Helen was 34. Helen was actually the classmate of Longstreet’s daughter. Suffice to say his children were not very keen on the marriage. Longstreet died in 1904. Helen was an advocate of her husband’s legacy and, by all accounts, a devoted wife. After her husband’s death, Helen worked a variety of jobs as a reporter, writer, editor, post office mistress, farmer, librarian, and politician. In 1943, while working as a riveter, Helen was around 80 years old.

When World War II broke out, she wanted to do what she could to help the war effort. “I am going to assist in building a plane to bomb Hitler and the Son of Heaven to the Judgement Seat of God,” she asserted. When it comes to her skills as a riveter, Helen pointed out, “I was the head of my class in riveting school. In fact I was the only one in it.”

Helen died in 1962 at the age of 99.

http://www.historybyzim.com/2016/08/confederate-widow-helen-longstreet-as-a-riveter/
 

pamc153PA

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This is Helen and park officials in 1939 at the place on the Gettysburg battlefield where the Longstreet monument was originally supposed to go, now where the Soldiers and Sailors of the Confederacy monument is located. You can see BRT in the background. She campaigned strongly for a monument to be placed in her husband’s honor.
 

Eleanor Rose

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Anyone who reads Wooed to the Warriors Tent by Helen Longstreet will know their love was real. General Longstreet wrote Helen the most beautiful love letters. They brought tears to my eyes. It's a short book available on Amazon. If you have a romantic bone in your body, please order it. It's marketed as In The Path of Lee's Old Warhorse and sells for $9.95. It's perfect for Valentine's Day. @christian soldier, I know you would appreciate the romantic prose.

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I do second that!
So moving to see the soft side of Lee's battle-hardened "Old War Horse". And in contrast to what some men think, revealing a soft spot does not take away the least bit from the reputation as a warrior or from being tough and courageous. Right on the contrary. Maybe Helen was lucky enough to meet him at a stage in life when he allowed himself that. The overwhelmingly traumatic time in his life, when he lost three of his children, changed him, but I would not know that he talked to anyone about his loss - he just became even more taciturn and less frolicking. But when he met Helen he had learned what a relief and great help it can be to open ones heart to a trusted companion.
I'd so love to read a true well researched, well based and maybe even a bit biased study of James Longstreet... Thanks to Helen and thanks to the editor who now published her essay "Wooed to the Warrior's Tent" we can now at least have a small glimpse of the fabric the true Longstreet was made from.

Thank you @Bee for this thread, it is very much appreciated !
And I would like to invite @War Horse to read it also, I know that he also is a great admirer of Helen's. And who would not?
 


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