Maybe This Really Is the Best Answer

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Eleanor Rose

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James Longstreet Statue 1.jpg


Long before the monument "debate", I often lamented over the lack of monuments or memorials to my favorite general, James Longstreet. Perhaps this opinion piece by Steven A. Holmes provides the best answer.

"At a time of debate over the removal of Confederate monuments and amid charges that some protestors want to "erase history," Longstreet's near-expungement raises questions about whose history is being scrubbed away and why that history was created in the first place. It underscores that history -- and particularly the history of the Civil War -- is not simply an objective chronicling of facts. It is often shaped by people to promote particular political agendas and ideologies.

Despite his distinguished war record, Longstreet's absence from the pantheon of Confederate heroes was no accident. It was the result of a deliberate campaign by Southerners to punish him for his actions following the war."


Read the entire commentary at http://www.cnn.com/2017/08/23/opinions/where-are-monuments-to-confederate-general-longstreet-opinion-holmes/index.html
 

Eleanor Rose

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Helen Dortch Longstreet at the original site set aside by the National Park Service for the Longstreet Memorial, October 27, 1939. Pictured with Mrs. Longstreet is GNMP Superintendent James R. McConaghie (left of Mrs. Longstreet) and sculptor Paul Manship (right of Mrs. Longstreet). If you look carefully in the photo above, to the right of the pine tree can be seen the slope of Big Round Top.

In regards to the proposed final location of the monument, on May 7, 1940 the National Park Service wrote Mrs. Longstreet:

"After inspecting various sites, your committee agreed that the site which afforded a full view of that portion of the battlefield wherein General Longstreet's troops operated on the Second of July seemed to be the most desirable. The tract is located adjacent to the recognized right flank of the Confederate Army. It is at the lower end of what is now called Confederate Avenue, and a few hundred feet south of the site occupied by the Alabama Monument. An area of some four acres exists at this location. The upper two acres are on the ridge and afford an excellent view of the entire lower section of the battlefield. It is proposed that the monument be located in about the center of these two acres and about one hundred feet in front of the avenue. The monument to face in a northeasterly direction."

The proposed Longstreet monument by sculptor Paul Manship.
upload_2017-8-24_11-44-13.png


This model of the memorial was unveiled at the site dedication event in July, 1941. The proposed memorial would be placed on a pillar or base atop a stone floor approx. 12 feet x 12 feet. The memorial would be surrounded by stone seats for viewing.

When a photograph of the proposed memorial was published in a local newspaper, the National Park Service wrote a letter to Mrs. Longstreet in regards to the fact that one of the horses legs was lifted. Superintendent McConaghie, on April 6, 1940, wrote Mrs. Longstreet and noted:

"There is one feature that has caused considerable local comment and one I feel to be of sufficient importance to be called to your attention. To you it may appear of minor value, but to the public visiting here is important.

The position of the horses' feet in each of the existing equestrian statues now in the park tell a story. This fact is widely known and has become one of the items of which the visiting public likes to check.

1. Both feet off the ground: Rider died in action.

2. One foot off the ground: Rider wounded in action.

3. All four feet on the ground: Rider unscathed.

As far as I have been able to determine this uniformity of position is but a happenstance. However, it is true within the park."

On April 9th Mrs Longstreet would reply:

"This will thank you warmly for your constructive criticism of the model of the proposed equestrian statue of General Longstreet for the Gettysburg field. I am forwarding it to Mr. Manship, the sculptor, who will, I am sure, appreciate it as sincerely as I do. I know it is Mr. Manship's intention to make the Longstreet Memorial the noblest on the Gettysburg battlefield and to correspond in every respect with the magnificent memorials already there."

Copyright www.gettysburgsculptures.com
 
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Long before the monument "debate", I often lamented over the lack of monuments or memorials to my favorite general, James Longstreet. Perhaps this opinion piece by Steven A. Holmes provides the best answer.

"At a time of debate over the removal of Confederate monuments and amid charges that some protestors want to "erase history," Longstreet's near-expungement raises questions about whose history is being scrubbed away and why that history was created in the first place. It underscores that history -- and particularly the history of the Civil War -- is not simply an objective chronicling of facts. It is often shaped by people to promote particular political agendas and ideologies.

Despite his distinguished war record, Longstreet's absence from the pantheon of Confederate heroes was no accident. It was the result of a deliberate campaign by Southerners to punish him for his actions following the war."


Read the entire commentary at http://www.cnn.com/2017/08/23/opinions/where-are-monuments-to-confederate-general-longstreet-opinion-holmes/index.html
Longstreet committed three unpardonable sins after the war. He supported U.S. Grant for president; he led black troops against white supremacists; and, worst of all, criticized Saint Robert of Lee. For all those reasons, the lost causers did two opposite things to his reputation. First, they wrote thousands of pages blaming Longstreet for every error ever committed anywhere between 1861 and 1865. Then, they erased his memory from CSA annals. Go figure.
 
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shermans_march

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Longstreet committed three unpardonable sins after the war. He supported U.S. Grant for president; he led black troops against white supremacists; and, worst of all, criticized Saint Robert of Lee. For all those reasons, the lost causers did two opposite things to his reputation. First, they wrote thousands of pages blaming Longstreet for every error ever committed anywhere between 1861 and 1865. Then, they erased his memory from CSA annals. Go figure.
Too bad that Longstreet didn't respond to the accusations leveled against him by Early and others before his reputation was severely damaged. It's sad that one of the few Confederates generals that showed true efforts of reconciliation was punished for it. Even though he fought for the Confederacy, my opinion of him is greater because of his later actions, which were I am sure genuine. Plus he was best man at Grant's wedding. Pretty cool.
 

Eleanor Rose

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my opinion of him is greater because of his later actions
I agree. Even today, General Longstreet doesn't receive credit for his efforts after the war ended. As Steven A. Holmes stated in his opinion piece:

"Longstreet was no racial saint. He argued privately that whites needed to embrace Reconstruction so that they, and not the newly freed blacks, would be in charge of rebuilding the South."

Nonetheless, Longstreet did the right thing. He embraced Reconstruction and worked to move it forward. I think General Lee would have been proud of his "Old War Horse."
 
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shermans_march

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I agree. Even today, General Longstreet doesn't receive credit for his efforts after the war ended. As Steven A. Holmes stated in his opinion piece:

"Longstreet was no racial saint. He argued privately that whites needed to embrace Reconstruction so that they, and not the newly freed blacks, would be in charge of rebuilding the South."

Nonetheless, Longstreet did the right thing. He embraced Reconstruction and worked to move it forward. I think General Lee would have been proud of his "Old War Horse."
He did command African American troops along with the Metropolitan police to combat elements of the White League in New Orleans in 1874. He may have held prejudices but for a southern that was a confederate general that is a remarkable step only 9 years after the war.
 
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shermans_march

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Funny reading Yanks' crocodile tears for Gen. Longstreet. The enemy of my enemy is my friend, or something like that.
Not really. If someone made a bad choice and they changed their ways shouldn't they be forgiven or least admired to a certain extent?

I am a westerner, not a Yankee if we assume that your definition is someone from the North not from the whole United States. :smile:
 
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@War Horse and @FarawayFriend, where are you? I'd love to hear your thoughts on this dear friends!
Thanks for tagging me!

As much as love that myth about the statue's hooves signifying the fate of the rider, I'm afraid it is just that, a myth.
Ask @Eric Wittenberg when at Gettysburg, I think I learned the bitter truth from him. :D

I cannot imagine that Helen would approve of her husband's actual monument... but at least it gives us the chance to pose close to Longstreet for photos... which is probably the best that comes from that statue.
 

RobertP

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Not really. If someone made a bad choice and they changed their ways shouldn't they be forgiven or least admired to a certain extent?

I am a westerner, not a Yankee if we assume that your definition is someone from the North not from the whole United States. :smile:
I assume anyone with Sherman as an avatar is a Yank. Fair enough?
 
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Eleanor Rose

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He did command African American troops along with the Metropolitan police to combat elements of the White League in New Orleans in 1874. He may have held prejudices but for a southern that was a confederate general that is a remarkable step only 9 years after the war.
You are so right!!! Just one of the many reasons I admire General Longstreet!
 
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amweiner

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Great thread, as always, Ellie!! :smile:

I think another unfortunate aspect that played into snubbing Longstreet was the deification of Jackson as part of the Lost Cause. He was a natural poster child for them, when you think about it: unyielding, no patience for human error, made statements that the Yankees should all be killed, and a decent-enough track record. His eccentricities also played well, making him a fan favorite for the Lost Causers.

By contrast, Longstreet was portrayed as serious, businesslike, and all too willing to work with others - traits that have oddly been seen as "un-Southern", even though people from the South have been just as industrious and devoted as anyone. I agree with @Jimklag that daring to question Lee's judgment was another nail in the reputation coffin, perhaps the fatal one.

Just a thought,
Adam
 

Eleanor Rose

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When a photograph of the proposed memorial was published in a local newspaper, the National Park Service wrote a letter to Mrs. Longstreet in regards to the fact that one of the horses legs was lifted. Superintendent McConaghie, on April 6, 1940, wrote Mrs. Longstreet and noted:

"There is one feature that has caused considerable local comment and one I feel to be of sufficient importance to be called to your attention. To you it may appear of minor value, but to the public visiting here is important.

The position of the horses' feet in each of the existing equestrian statues now in the park tell a story. This fact is widely known and has become one of the items of which the visiting public likes to check.

1. Both feet of the ground: Rider died in action.

2. One foot off the ground: Rider wounded in action.

3. All four feet on the ground: Rider unscathed.
As much as love that myth about the statue's hooves signifying the fate of the rider, I'm afraid it is just that, a myth.
Ask @Eric Wittenberg when at Gettysburg, I think I learned the bitter truth from him. :D
What is the "bitter truth" @Eric Wittenberg? Sadly, I need to know. :frown: Why would Superintendent McConaghie of the NPS propagate this myth to Helen?
 

Carronade

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Nonetheless, Longstreet did the right thing. He embraced Reconstruction and worked to move it forward. I think General Lee would have been proud of his "Old War Horse."
Good point. Lee was all for reconciliation; had he lived longer, he and Longstreet might have been fighting that battle together. Brings up some intriguing thoughts - Lee working for Grant? I wonder how many statues of Lee we'd have today?
 
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