Longstreet recommended McLaws for corps command

Pete Longstreet

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At the time of reorganization, following the death of Jackson, Longstreet recommended that McLaws be given command of a corps in the Army of Northern Virginia.

We all know it went to Ewell and Hill. But was Longstreet right? Should Lee have promoted McLaws instead of Ewell and/or Hill?
 

JeffFromSyracuse

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His performance at Salem Church killed any chance he had of being promoted by Lee
Can you expand upon this? I feel like either I rushed through the Salem Church part of Sears' book, or I was just trying to finish and it didn't stick with me as much as the rest of the book did. I know the VI Corps obviously got out of a sticky situation - was McLaws not aggressive enough?
 

Jamieva

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Can you expand upon this? I feel like either I rushed through the Salem Church part of Sears' book, or I was just trying to finish and it didn't stick with me as much as the rest of the book did. I know the VI Corps obviously got out of a sticky situation - was McLaws not aggressive enough?
Yes not aggressive enough for Lee’s taste there. This book is a really good read on Salem church

https://www.amazon.com/dp/1611211360/?tag=civilwartalkc-20
 

rpkennedy

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No. His performance at Salem Church killed any chance he had of being promoted by Lee Even if he had a chance before that, and I don’t believe he did. Certainly not over AP Hill based on command at the division level, Ewell is barely debatable too imo

Agreed. Chancellorsville ended any possibility for McLaws to take command of a corps in the Army of Northern Virginia. If Ewell was incapable of taking the field due to his injury, I imagine that Lee promotes Richard Anderson to the vacant command over McLaws (McLaws had seniority by 3 days over Anderson). From what I've seen, McLaws was not seriously considered for promotion by Lee with the reorganization of the army, unlike Hill, Ewell, and Anderson.

Ryan
 

Wizard of Cozz

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After Chancellorsville, Lee tells Longstreet to keep a firm hand on McLaws. Lee clearly was not happy with his performance during Chancellorsville campaign. Looking back over Wirt's biography of Longstreet, he says that McLaws had been ill during the winter, Lee in fact inquired to Longstreet about whether McLaws health and physical capacity were up to a extended campaign and whether McLaws might be reassigned to "other services."

Longstreet spoke with McLaws, offering him the opportunity to go south back to Georgia. McLaws though felt he was up to the rigors of a campaign. Basically Lee had concerns about McLaws health and stamina for campaigning, but was kept in command of his division. I don't see any world after Chancellorsville where McLaws would get a corps command, in fact the writing was on the wall for what would happen in Knoxville in fall of 63'. According to Longstreet after Chancellorsville, he promised Lee he would give personal attention to McLaws division. Wirt quotes Longstreet in a letter to McLaws after the war as saying "I thus became responsible for anything that was not entirely satisfactory in your command from that day."

All of this leads to what happened at Gettysburg. Longstreet gave Hood a free hand in managing his half of the assault once it began, but basically micro-managed McLaws division. McLaws was extremely upset after the battle, writing his wife about Longstreet on day 2 saying, "During the engagement he was really excited giving constantly orders to everyone, and was exceedingly overbearing. I consider him a humbug, a man of small capacity, very obstinate, not at all chivalrous, exceedingly conceited, and totally selfish. If I can it is my intention to get away from his command."
 

Pete Longstreet

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After Chancellorsville, Lee tells Longstreet to keep a firm hand on McLaws. Lee clearly was not happy with his performance during Chancellorsville campaign. Looking back over Wirt's biography of Longstreet, he says that McLaws had been ill during the winter, Lee in fact inquired to Longstreet about whether McLaws health and physical capacity were up to a extended campaign and whether McLaws might be reassigned to "other services."

Longstreet spoke with McLaws, offering him the opportunity to go south back to Georgia. McLaws though felt he was up to the rigors of a campaign. Basically Lee had concerns about McLaws health and stamina for campaigning, but was kept in command of his division. I don't see any world after Chancellorsville where McLaws would get a corps command, in fact the writing was on the wall for what would happen in Knoxville in fall of 63'. According to Longstreet after Chancellorsville, he promised Lee he would give personal attention to McLaws division. Wirt quotes Longstreet in a letter to McLaws after the war as saying "I thus became responsible for anything that was not entirely satisfactory in your command from that day."

All of this leads to what happened at Gettysburg. Longstreet gave Hood a free hand in managing his half of the assault once it began, but basically micro-managed McLaws division. McLaws was extremely upset after the battle, writing his wife about Longstreet on day 2 saying, "During the engagement he was really excited giving constantly orders to everyone, and was exceedingly overbearing. I consider him a humbug, a man of small capacity, very obstinate, not at all chivalrous, exceedingly conceited, and totally selfish. If I can it is my intention to get away from his command."
Longstreet and McLaws were friends and classmates at West Point... so I'm sure that had something to do with recommending him for corps command. Although we know what happened to that friendship after Gettysburg and especially Knoxville.

I've read that McLaws carried the brunt of the defensive fighting at Chancellorsville, while Jackson executed his flank movement. McLaws also fought admirably at Fredericksburg.

I remember the "humbug" quote. I also find it interesting that after Jackson's death, Longstreet is advocating for his friend McLaws... then after the next Battle, McLaws wants to be transferred from his command. Something misfired when it came to Lee and Longstreet with McLaws.
 

Wizard of Cozz

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You can tell by the letters written between the two after the war that their was a friendship there, but the summer and fall of 1863 really put a damper on it. Back to the main question of the topic which was about McLaws for Corps command. Do you have the evidence where it says Longstreet offered up McLaws?? I'm just curious to read exactly what it says. Onto Lee's decision. I get the feeling that Lee absolutely wanted Hill in Corps command, I have read that he wanted him in Corps command back in 1862, but that DH Hill was his senior in rank and still with the army and that Congress and Davis wouldn't promote AP of DH. That is why Lee kept with the 2 Corps system. It also may factor into his choosing of Ewell, who was also the senior to AP Hill, but promoting Ewell, it allowed him to also promote Hill who Lee termed "the best soldier in his grade." Longstreet couldn't stand Hill and so may have preferred someone else. Wirt says that Longstreet preferred DH Hill for the post and makes no mention of Longstreet offering McLaws for the position.
 

Belfoured

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Longstreet and McLaws were friends and classmates at West Point... so I'm sure that had something to do with recommending him for corps command. Although we know what happened to that friendship after Gettysburg and especially Knoxville.

I've read that McLaws carried the brunt of the defensive fighting at Chancellorsville, while Jackson executed his flank movement. McLaws also fought admirably at Fredericksburg.

I remember the "humbug" quote. I also find it interesting that after Jackson's death, Longstreet is advocating for his friend McLaws... then after the next Battle, McLaws wants to be transferred from his command. Something misfired when it came to Lee and Longstreet with McLaws.
Fort Sanders seems to have been the "deal breaker" with Longstreet. IIRC, Longstreet made statements about McLaws's performance that should have resulted in a court martial.
 

Wizard of Cozz

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Fort Sanders seems to have been the "deal breaker" with Longstreet. IIRC, Longstreet made statements about McLaws's performance that should have resulted in a court martial.
What I find most interesting about Fort Sanders is how the roles have reversed from Gettysburg. None of his subordinates feel good about their chances, and though Jenkins isn't in the assault, he writes Longstreet his concerns, and Longstreet's response is priceless "if we go in with the idea that we shall fail, we will be sure to do so. But no men who are determined to succeed can fail." Considering Longstreet's extreme misgivings on day 3 at Gettysburg, he must surely have understood how Lee felt on that day. I don't write this saying Longstreet did anything insubordinate at Gettysburg, and especially on Day 2 his Corps fought very well, but I've never felt his heart was in the July 3rd assault.
 

Belfoured

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What I find most interesting about Fort Sanders is how the roles have reversed from Gettysburg. None of his subordinates feel good about their chances, and though Jenkins isn't in the assault, he writes Longstreet his concerns, and Longstreet's response is priceless "if we go in with the idea that we shall fail, we will be sure to do so. But no men who are determined to succeed can fail." Considering Longstreet's extreme misgivings on day 3 at Gettysburg, he must surely have understood how Lee felt on that day. I don't write this saying Longstreet did anything insubordinate at Gettysburg, and especially on Day 2 his Corps fought very well, but I've never felt his heart was in the July 3rd assault.
True. I think at Fort Sanders Longstreet may have been regretting the outcome at Campbell's Station (which ironically may have been due to Jenkins, while McLaws performed well) and Fort Sanders was the last chance at what was probably a futile mission from the campaign's gitgo. Pure speculation, of course.
 

Wizard of Cozz

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True. I think at Fort Sanders Longstreet may have been regretting the outcome at Campbell's Station (which ironically may have been due to Jenkins, while McLaws performed well) and Fort Sanders was the last chance at what was probably a futile mission from the campaign's gitgo. Pure speculation, of course.
It seemed like a they had a chance to strike a blow against Shackleford at Bean's Station but the men were tired and hungry and though the plan was well thought out, it's execution left much to be desired. The cavalry especially did not do their duty that day. I had asked a previous question another thread about troop strengths at the Wilderness, and the fact the Field's and Kershaw's divisions seemed the most beat up and while casualties played a part in it, it also seemed that they had major desertion issues over the winter of 63'-64'.
 

Pete Longstreet

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You can tell by the letters written between the two after the war that their was a friendship there, but the summer and fall of 1863 really put a damper on it. Back to the main question of the topic which was about McLaws for Corps command. Do you have the evidence where it says Longstreet offered up McLaws?? I'm just curious to read exactly what it says. Onto Lee's decision. I get the feeling that Lee absolutely wanted Hill in Corps command, I have read that he wanted him in Corps command back in 1862, but that DH Hill was his senior in rank and still with the army and that Congress and Davis wouldn't promote AP of DH. That is why Lee kept with the 2 Corps system. It also may factor into his choosing of Ewell, who was also the senior to AP Hill, but promoting Ewell, it allowed him to also promote Hill who Lee termed "the best soldier in his grade." Longstreet couldn't stand Hill and so may have preferred someone else. Wirt says that Longstreet preferred DH Hill for the post and makes no mention of Longstreet offering McLaws for the position.
It's mentioned in the book: Lee and Longstreet at Gettysburg by Glenn Tucker. And I believe I read it somewhere else as well. I was going to say Wert's book, but you just said he makes no mention of it. I'll have to do some research to see where else I read it. But at the time of the reorganization, it makes sense that Longstreet would advocate for McLaws. After all, they were friends, West Point classmates, McLaws was a Georgian, as was Longstreet. Though that relationship was severely tested later on in the war.
 

Pete Longstreet

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Fort Sanders seems to have been the "deal breaker" with Longstreet. IIRC, Longstreet made statements about McLaws's performance that should have resulted in a court martial.
If Longstreet had the backing of Davis, I bet the charges against McLaws would have been enforced, but Davis was not a fan of Longstreets. Lee, as he's done before, stepped in and resolved the issue between Longstreet and McLaws.
 
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Pete Longstreet

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What I find most interesting about Fort Sanders is how the roles have reversed from Gettysburg. None of his subordinates feel good about their chances, and though Jenkins isn't in the assault, he writes Longstreet his concerns, and Longstreet's response is priceless "if we go in with the idea that we shall fail, we will be sure to do so. But no men who are determined to succeed can fail." Considering Longstreet's extreme misgivings on day 3 at Gettysburg, he must surely have understood how Lee felt on that day. I don't write this saying Longstreet did anything insubordinate at Gettysburg, and especially on Day 2 his Corps fought very well, but I've never felt his heart was in the July 3rd assault.
Interesting comparison. I bet at that point in time, Longstreet may have had a taste of what Lee felt at Gettysburg, when the weight of a campaign rest on the shoulders of the commander. He probably felt it was his duty to remain confident and boost the moral of his men as much as he could.
 

Wizard of Cozz

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If Longstreet had the backing of Davis, I bet the charges against McLaws would have been enforced. But Davis was not a fan of Longstreet and Lee, as he's done before, stepped in and resolved the issue.
I actually get the feeling that Longstreet didn't really want to press the charges. He basically wanted McLaws gone and was using that as a reason to get him gone. He didn't originally court-martial McLaws only relieved him of duty, which he didn't have the authority to do. Longstreet didn't even arrest McLaws, and instead wrote Davis "his services might be important to the Confederate government in some other position. If such is the case, I have no desire that he should be kept from that service, or that his usefulness be impaired in any way by a trial." It was in this letter that he gave the specific charges of "Neglect of Duty." The trial of Jerome Robertson of the Texas brigade went rather quickly, but Longstreet found ways of delaying the McLaws situation, which I feel was his way of hoping it would go away. Longstreet even granted leaves of absences for many of the witnesses needed at the trial, which prevented them from testifying. In a letter to McLaws Longstreet wrote on the subject:

"I know as well as you, that Mr. Davis would be pleased to have you make charges against me, and that Mr. Bragg would be more than pleased to join you, and I will say frankly that I would rather have had you make charges against me than to be obliged to make them against you. I was anxious to be rid of the impossible situation that I held."
 

Wizard of Cozz

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If Longstreet had the backing of Davis, I bet the charges against McLaws would have been enforced. But Davis was not a fan of Longstreet and Lee, as he's done before, stepped in and resolved the issue.
I've never heard Davis wasn't a fan of Lee before?? Not saying they were besties, but they seemed to have a solid working relationship, as opposed to most of the other army commanders in the Confederacy.
 
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