Longstreet was a "defensive" General

Scott1967

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What are the sources for these "councils of war" Lee held at Gettysburg and the "votes"?
Lee conferred with Hill and Ewell on both attacks and both sided with Lee maybe not a council of war but still all 4 commanders had an input.
Hopefully you're not seriously suggesting that Pete was looking to hold a reunion with Rosey. I think I pointed out that Longstreet was looking to head west.
No but the question stands why Longstreet wanted to head west and leave the ANV as early as Oct 1862 off the top of my head I know he had a plan to relieve Vicksburg and pushed Seddon into replacing Bragg with Johnston.

That's as far as my memory goes its been awhile since I read Longstreet's accounts.
 

Wizard of Cozz

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One last thing I wanted to mention on Longstreet. During the battle of Chickamauga he uses an attack in depth. When he returns to Lee's army in May of 64' and marches towards the Wilderness. He puts both divisions in column side by side, and upon reaching the battle proceeds to knock back Hancock's attack. He then flanks Hancock out of his position. What I find most interesting is Longstreet's use of a heavy skirmish line as an adaptation to the rugged terrain. This again shows Longsteet's tactical brilliance, and is another reason why he was as good as any Corps commander during the war.
 

Belfoured

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Lee conferred with Hill and Ewell on both attacks and both sided with Lee maybe not a council of war but still all 4 commanders had an input.

No but the question stands why Longstreet wanted to head west and leave the ANV as early as Oct 1862 off the top of my head I know he had a plan to relieve Vicksburg and pushed Seddon into replacing Bragg with Johnston.

That's as far as my memory goes its been awhile since I read Longstreet's accounts.
Respectfully, I think you're missing the purpose of Lee's communications with Ewell and Hill. He wasn't seeking their "siding"/agreement with him. They were both going to have roles connected to the attacks, so of course they'd have "input" - that was the reason he conferred. It's completely different from a council of war such as Meade held on the night of July 2.
 

Scott1967

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Respectfully, I think you're missing the purpose of Lee's communications with Ewell and Hill. He wasn't seeking their "siding"/agreement with him. They were both going to have roles connected to the attacks, so of course they'd have "input" - that was the reason he conferred. It's completely different from a council of war such as Meade held on the night of July 2.
And do you think their was any chance Ewell and Hill might have protested Lee's plans Like Longstreet did? , After all if Ewell had sided with Longstreet maybe Lee might have thought twice?.
 

rpkennedy

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Spot on , Longstreet was a party animal up to the point of losing his children then he became very withdrawn.

Ewell and Hill were a direct response to the influence both Jackson and Longstreet had on Lee , Lee wanted more direct control over the army with dire consequence's.

However I disagree about Lee wanting Longstreet's council he was away for long periods of time either wounded of fighting with Bragg or on his own and their has to be a reason for that because one does not send his best commander away unless its to get him out of your hair imho.

I don't think that this is entirely fair. I don't see much evidence that Lee wanted more direct control over the army although that it ultimately what happened, especially when Hill's health broke and forced Lee to take a much firmer hand than he had previously. Ewell, on the other hand, did well during the Gettysburg Campaign and beyond until his nerve seemed to have broke a bit at Spotsylvania.

And Lee agreed to send Longstreet to the West since the Virginia front was relatively quiet. I don't know of any information that he wanted Longstreet away from the army.

Ryan
 
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Wizard of Cozz

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I don't think that this is entirely fair. I don't see much evidence that Lee wanted more direct control over the army although that it ultimately what happened, especially when Hill's health broke and forced Lee to take a much firmer hand than he had previously. Ewell, on the other hand, did well during the Gettysburg Campaign and beyond until his nerve seemed to have broke a bit at Spotsylvania.

And Lee agreed to send Longstreet to the West since the Virginia front was relatively quiet. I don't know of much evidence that he wanted Longstreet away from the army.

Ryan
Lee and Longstreet had both been working with Grant about the situation in Tennessee and Georgia, with the loss of Chatanooga, the situation was dire, and with no real prospects of an offensive in Virginia the decision was made to reinfoce Bragg. In all honesty who else would you send?? They weren't going to send two Virginians in Hill and Ewell, on top of the fact that Longstreet was clearly the most fit choice for that operation. Also, the notice which two divisions they send, the two without any Virginians brigades in it in Hood and McLaws. I think sometimes we look too much into this. That's also not to say that Longstreet didn't see a chance for him to become an army commander, but at the same token, I take it for what it was. They needed to reinforce Bragg and Longstreet was the best choice to head out that way.
 

rpkennedy

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Lee conferred with Hill and Ewell on both attacks and both sided with Lee maybe not a council of war but still all 4 commanders had an input.

No but the question stands why Longstreet wanted to head west and leave the ANV as early as Oct 1862 off the top of my head I know he had a plan to relieve Vicksburg and pushed Seddon into replacing Bragg with Johnston.

That's as far as my memory goes its been awhile since I read Longstreet's accounts.

Longstreet was very close with Joseph Johnston and supported him throughout the war. And he was ambitious and if he was successful in the West, away from Lee, Longstreet may end up in command of the Army of Tennessee.

By all contemporary accounts, while Lee and Longstreet didn't always agree, there doesn't seem to have been a ton of friction between the two. In fact, Longstreet named his son who was born in October 1863 Robert Lee Longstreet. That doesn't gel with this idea of major problems between the two.

Ryan
 

rpkennedy

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Lee and Longstreet had both been working with Grant about the situation in Tennessee and Georgia, with the loss of Chatanooga, the situation was dire, and with no real prospects of an offensive in Virginia the decision was made to reinfoce Bragg. In all honesty who else would you send?? They weren't going to send two Virginians in Hill and Ewell, on top of the fact that Longstreet was clearly the most fit choice for that operation. Also, the notice which two divisions they send, the two without any Virginians brigades in it in Hood and McLaws. I think sometimes we look too much into this. That's also not to say that Longstreet didn't see a chance for him to become an army commander, but at the same token, I take it for what it was. They needed to reinforce Bragg and Longstreet was the best choice to head out that way.
Agreed. It also helped that he had been advocating for just such a move for some time beforehand. He was the obvious option and he wanted to go, something which could not be said of either Ewell or Hill.

Ryan
 

Lost Cause

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Lee’s primary focus was his assignment in Virginia prior to being promoted to General in Chief of the Confederate forces in 1865. Had Lee wanted Longstreet gone, he would have removed him. There is no evidence otherwise, thus Longstreet’s assignment to the 1st Corps. The men of the ANV needed to be resupplied, one reason for the Suffolk as well as the Maryland and Pennsylvania Campaigns. Moreover, Lee agreed to allow Longstreet to be transferred West after conferring with Davis/Longstreet beforehand.
 

Belfoured

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And do you think their was any chance Ewell and Hill might have protested Lee's plans Like Longstreet did? , After all if Ewell had sided with Longstreet maybe Lee might have thought twice?.
That's not the point. You indicated that Lee wanted Longstreet "out of his hair" and that's how Longstreet ended up in Tennessee. You've cited nothing supporting that. As to whether Ewell and Hill "might have protested Lee's plans", who knows. Hill was "indisposed" a good part of the time and both of them were new to corps command. Longstreet wasn't, and had proven himself at that level at 2 BR, Antietam, and Fredericksburg.
 

Scott1967

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That's not the point. You indicated that Lee wanted Longstreet "out of his hair" and that's how Longstreet ended up in Tennessee. You've cited nothing supporting that. As to whether Ewell and Hill "might have protested Lee's plans", who knows. Hill was "indisposed" a good part of the time and both of them were new to corps command. Longstreet wasn't, and had proven himself at that level at 2 BR, Antietam, and Fredericksburg.
As many have stated here Longstreet was fine corps commander you just said it yourself and yet he was transferred mainly because Longstreet wanted to leave or felt he had a better chance of securing his own command , However if I was Lee I would have fought tooth a nail to keep him with the ANV their was no guarantee Meade would not move against Lee in late 1863 so why allow you most senior corps commander to leave it seems a very strange decision made by both Lee and Davis.

Longstreet did state after the war that Lee had basically lied to him about how they were going to conduct the Gettysburg Campaign and Lee called his claims absurd however Alexander did state that Longstreet had a point so their was indeed tension between the two.

Lee had ignored Longstreet and the plan they had made together to conduct a defensive battle and not to go on the offensive unless it was with favourable terms , I cant imagine Longstreet was happy have all 3 of his division so badley mauled for no gain it must have irked him.

Quite honesty their is nothing in the sources to state what both men were thinking after Gettysburg and just before Longstreet's transfer however Lee letting him go was not sound judgement hindsight excluded imho.
 

John S. Carter

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I've seen this a number of times, but Lee had none of his good cavalry on the field on either Day 1 or Day 2, if he tries a flanking maneuver as many here suggest, Buford would have instantly moved to delay the movement, on top of that he would of opened himself up to being attacked from the direction Union reinforcements were coming from. I don't see how he could have "maneuvered to the right" as Longstreet requested. Wert's biography of Longstreet even mentions this both times, that Lee correctly shut down that suggestion. Now if we want to play hindsight 50/50, I think Lee should have moved Ewell from the Confederate left and sent them around to the right with Longstreet, to me that offered up more opportunities for possible success. Even with only the brigade of Greene on Culp's Hill, Meade was still able to barely hold the position the night of July 2. With moving Ewell, you take away the fishhook position and you make it to parallel lines, and Meade loses his advantage of interior lines.

As to your 2nd point, the spy Harrison, is the reason that Lee began his concentration to Gettysburg.
Let us admit that from the first day of the battle everything that could have gone wrong went that way for the ANV and that everything for AOP went to their advantage because of what went wrong for the ANV. AGREE?
 

Belfoured

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As many have stated here Longstreet was fine corps commander you just said it yourself and yet he was transferred mainly because Longstreet wanted to leave or felt he had a better chance of securing his own command , However if I was Lee I would have fought tooth a nail to keep him with the ANV their was no guarantee Meade would not move against Lee in late 1863 so why allow you most senior corps commander to leave it seems a very strange decision made by both Lee and Davis.

Longstreet did state after the war that Lee had basically lied to him about how they were going to conduct the Gettysburg Campaign and Lee called his claims absurd however Alexander did state that Longstreet had a point so their was indeed tension between the two.

Lee had ignored Longstreet and the plan they had made together to conduct a defensive battle and not to go on the offensive unless it was with favourable terms , I cant imagine Longstreet was happy have all 3 of his division so badley mauled for no gain it must have irked him.

Quite honesty their is nothing in the sources to state what both men were thinking after Gettysburg and just before Longstreet's transfer however Lee letting him go was not sound judgement hindsight excluded imho.
In other words, all you have is speculation to support the claim that Lee wanted Longstreet "out of his hair". The only plausible conclusion from the record is that he didn't want Longstreet gone - a rational view given who he had as of September 1863 - but reluctantly agreed to send him west because of the crisis in Tennessee. Lee showed during the war that he well knew how to get subordinates "out of his hair" - starting with the Seven Days and through the end of the war. But Longstreet rejoined Lee in Spring 1864 and again, after returning from his wound, in October 1864, playing a trusted role right to the end in April 1865. Read the Longstreet-Lee letter of April 2, 1864.
 

Wizard of Cozz

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Just some more information to consider about Longstreet as it pertains to this discussion. Before I get into specifics, we need to remember that what was written 10, 20, or 30 years after the fact isn't always the most accurate, and all of these officers and soldiers had grudges. Longstreet to a number of attacks against his character shortly after the war and said nothing, and then when he did responds proceeded to shift almost all blame away from himself and towards others, including Lee who was already dead, and couldn't defend himself. Early, Gordon, Longstreet, E. Porter Alexander, and even the staff officers who wrote after the war all had biases against other individuals in the army and these biases sometimes affected their viewpoints to what actually happened.

There is a belief that Longstreet was a "western bloc" general, but in a letter to confidant Sen. Louis Wigfall (who also was a western concentration supporter) he basically tells Wigfall that the AoNV can spare no men for the west, and the it'd be better to actually send men from the west to their army for the invasion. After the war in his writings his tune changes and he implies he was against the invasion and if it was to be fought it was to be tactically defensive in nature. That's not to say he was never against a concentration in the west, just that he plays a little loose with facts later on to put him in the best light, and honestly I get it, after years of Gordon and Early savaging him with relentlessly in the press.

As for the defensive nature of the battle, that went out the window when Stuart stopped his primary mission of keeping Lee informed of the AoP movements. After Longstreet brings Harrison to meet Lee, and Lee ultimately decides to concentrate at Gettysburg, the die is cast. Lee mauls I and XI Corps of the AoP, but they are able to fall back to high ground. I had mentioned in a previous post that on day 2 Lee's options are limited. Without Stuarts better cavalry brigades a movement to the right was out of the question, on top of the fact the road network didn't really offer much opportunity to move in the way the Longstreet suggested. That left 3 options, attack, retreat, or do nothing and hope Meade attacks him. With how well day 1 went, Lee's decision to attack seemed like the right one, and the original attack was supposed to be a flanking assault by Hood's and McLaws divisions, but when they get into position, The Yankee line wasn't where they thought it was, and it was getting late, so Longstreet with consultation with Lee come up with the echelon attack that goes forward that day. Longstreet led the attack in his sector brilliantly IMO, but Hill and Anderson let the army down, and the wounding of Pender causes the attack to falter.

In all my readings Longstreet does seem salty throughout Days 2 and 3, but his fighting on Day 2 was well led, though if he had his troops to move when Lee returned from visiting with Ewell, they may have been able to get into position an hour or two earlier, and that may have made a difference as they were also running out of daylight during the assault.

Day 3 Longstreet pouted even worse, and didn't lead the assault with any vigor, again I'm not commenting on how successful it could or could not of been, but most agree Longstreet led with no energy behind it. I don't think this takes away from him overall as a commander. Over the course of the war Longstreet was as good as they came. All leaders had good and bad days.
 

Belfoured

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Just some more information to consider about Longstreet as it pertains to this discussion. Before I get into specifics, we need to remember that what was written 10, 20, or 30 years after the fact isn't always the most accurate, and all of these officers and soldiers had grudges. Longstreet to a number of attacks against his character shortly after the war and said nothing, and then when he did responds proceeded to shift almost all blame away from himself and towards others, including Lee who was already dead, and couldn't defend himself. Early, Gordon, Longstreet, E. Porter Alexander, and even the staff officers who wrote after the war all had biases against other individuals in the army and these biases sometimes affected their viewpoints to what actually happened.

There is a belief that Longstreet was a "western bloc" general, but in a letter to confidant Sen. Louis Wigfall (who also was a western concentration supporter) he basically tells Wigfall that the AoNV can spare no men for the west, and the it'd be better to actually send men from the west to their army for the invasion. After the war in his writings his tune changes and he implies he was against the invasion and if it was to be fought it was to be tactically defensive in nature. That's not to say he was never against a concentration in the west, just that he plays a little loose with facts later on to put him in the best light, and honestly I get it, after years of Gordon and Early savaging him with relentlessly in the press.

As for the defensive nature of the battle, that went out the window when Stuart stopped his primary mission of keeping Lee informed of the AoP movements. After Longstreet brings Harrison to meet Lee, and Lee ultimately decides to concentrate at Gettysburg, the die is cast. Lee mauls I and XI Corps of the AoP, but they are able to fall back to high ground. I had mentioned in a previous post that on day 2 Lee's options are limited. Without Stuarts better cavalry brigades a movement to the right was out of the question, on top of the fact the road network didn't really offer much opportunity to move in the way the Longstreet suggested. That left 3 options, attack, retreat, or do nothing and hope Meade attacks him. With how well day 1 went, Lee's decision to attack seemed like the right one, and the original attack was supposed to be a flanking assault by Hood's and McLaws divisions, but when they get into position, The Yankee line wasn't where they thought it was, and it was getting late, so Longstreet with consultation with Lee come up with the echelon attack that goes forward that day. Longstreet led the attack in his sector brilliantly IMO, but Hill and Anderson let the army down, and the wounding of Pender causes the attack to falter.

In all my readings Longstreet does seem salty throughout Days 2 and 3, but his fighting on Day 2 was well led, though if he had his troops to move when Lee returned from visiting with Ewell, they may have been able to get into position an hour or two earlier, and that may have made a difference as they were also running out of daylight during the assault.

Day 3 Longstreet pouted even worse, and didn't lead the assault with any vigor, again I'm not commenting on how successful it could or could not of been, but most agree Longstreet led with no energy behind it. I don't think this takes away from him overall as a commander. Over the course of the war Longstreet was as good as they came. All leaders had good and bad days.
Agree. And the OP was about his stereotyping as a "defensive" general, something that has been propagated in the simplistic world of historical fiction which then made its way into television and cinema. As has been pointed out too many times to track, he organized and executed four of the best tactical assaults during the war. That's more than enough to refute the "pigeon holing".
 

Wizard of Cozz

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Agree. And the OP was about his stereotyping as a "defensive" general, something that has been propagated in the simplistic world of historical fiction which then made its way into television and cinema. As has been pointed out too many times to track, he organized and executed four of the best tactical assaults during the war. That's more than enough to refute the "pigeon holing"

I had asked this in a previous post, but it's always interesting to me that Longstreet was so gung ho on the tactical defensive but when he goes out west, he never questions Bragg once about launching his assault, but instead goes about just making it work. I think too, Longstreet saw this as an opportunity for army command, and so wanted to impress the high command, so wasn't going to make any waves early on, now after the battle he obviously joins the anti-Bragg faction. I sometimes, think too that Lee valued Longstreet more than Longstreet did Lee at least in 1863, after Longstreet's experience with Bragg, I think he came to appreciate Lee much more.
 

Belfoured

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I had asked this in a previous post, but it's always interesting to me that Longstreet was so gung ho on the tactical defensive but when he goes out west, he never questions Bragg once about launching his assault, but instead goes about just making it work. I think too, Longstreet saw this as an opportunity for army command, and so wanted to impress the high command, so wasn't going to make any waves early on, now after the battle he obviously joins the anti-Bragg faction. I sometimes, think too that Lee valued Longstreet more than Longstreet did Lee at least in 1863, after Longstreet's experience with Bragg, I think he came to appreciate Lee much more.
I think that July 3 and September 20 are "apples and oranges" in terms of an assault. All anyone has to do is look at the terrain. Gettysburg was a mile+ of mostly excellent fields of observation and fire for the Union artillery - including McGilvery's substantial line extending to the south/oblique. Chickamauga presented very different considerations. I would not evaluate Longstreet's different reaction to those two orders without taking considerable account of these distinctions. Longstreet also is the one who actually initiated the devastating assault at 2 BR on August 30, 1862 and was pretty "gung ho" about the equally vigorous assault at the Wilderness which only ran out of steam when he was wounded.
 

Lost Cause

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I had asked this in a previous post, but it's always interesting to me that Longstreet was so gung ho on the tactical defensive but when he goes out west, he never questions Bragg once about launching his assault, but instead goes about just making it work. I think too, Longstreet saw this as an opportunity for army command, and so wanted to impress the high command, so wasn't going to make any waves early on, now after the battle he obviously joins the anti-Bragg faction. I sometimes, think too that Lee valued Longstreet more than Longstreet did Lee at least in 1863, after Longstreet's experience with Bragg, I think he came to appreciate Lee much more.
Longstreet operated both defensively and a subordinate general. His attacks at 2nd Manassas and the Wilderness were were similar to Chickamauga in that the Union army had been weekend prior to the attack, and he consistently arrived fashionably late. At Gettysburg, the terrain was undesirable along with plenty of Union artillery, not unlike Malvern Hill. His tardiness somewhat carried over to petulance as Gettysburg progressed.
 

Wizard of Cozz

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I think that July 3 and September 20 are "apples and oranges" in terms of an assault. All anyone has to do is look at the terrain. Gettysburg was a mile+ of mostly excellent fields of observation and fire for the Union artillery - including McGilvery's substantial line extending to the south/oblique. Chickamauga presented very different considerations. I would not evaluate Longstreet's different reaction to those two orders without taking considerable account of these distinctions. Longstreet also is the one who actually initiated the devastating assault at 2 BR on August 30, 1862 and was pretty "gung ho" about the equally vigorous assault at the Wilderness which only ran out of steam when he was wounded.
I don't disagree about it being somewhat apples and oranges. Though he was pouting even on Day 2 to an extant. It's just when the attack got going he pushed it as hard as he could. When I say pouted and dragged his feet. I'm really thinking of two specifics.

1.) On day 2, Lee meets with Longstreet and goes over his original attack plan based on Johnston's faulty intelligence on the Union left flank. If i'm off on times on this please correct me anyone. Lee then leaves Longstreet to discuss his plans with Early. In the time while Lee is gone, Longstreet does nothing to prepare his troops to be ready to move out, knowing that he will be going south when Lee gets back. Even if Lee had later changed his mind Longstreet wasn't getting his men ready to move. Instead Lee gets back around 11:00 AM and Longstreet doesn't move out till 1:00. Part of the reason is Longstreet was waiting on Law, but he still could of started the march and had Law bring up the rear if necessary, any number of decisions could have hastened the start time. It then takes him nearly 3 hours to get his men into position, most of the march can be blamed on the guide (who's name is escaping me right now) who supposed knew the terrain but didn't. Longstreet gets into position and the Yankees are not where they thought they were, and then you have the Conference between Longstreet and Lee where the decision to change the attack to an echelon attack happens.

2.) On day 3 Lee's plan was much different than what actually happened. Lee planned for a dawn/early morning attack that coincided with Ewell's attack on Culp's Hill. Longstreet drags his feet and doesn't have his command ready for the assault. Instead he drags his feet hoping the attack gets cancelled. Because of this the attack is delayed and then there is no coordination between Ewell and Longstreet's attacks.
 
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