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Meet James Longstreet

Discussion in 'James Longstreet' started by War Horse, Feb 18, 2017.

  1. War Horse

    War Horse Captain Forum Host Silver Patron Trivia Game Winner Regtl. Quartermaster Gettysburg 2017 Member of the Year

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    384px-James_Longstreet.jpg

    I have decided to start a series of threads dedicated to learning more about James Longstreet. This series will cover his birth, youth, pre-war, war, and post war years. I feel some here may find getting to know him interesting. I'll start it off with the opening passage found in General James Longstreet; The Confederacy's Most Controversial Soldier by Jeffry D. Wert. It still gives me chills. I hope you enjoy :smile:

    The column of men marched up the street in the warmth of a late spring day. Numbering perhaps fifteen thousand and stretching back out of view, the marchers came on without a cadence in their strides or a symmetry to their ranks. Many of them wore tattered old clothes; no two seemed to be dressed alike. At one point in the precession the shredded remains of a battle flag, held together by red mosquito netting, rose above their heads. The huge crowd of onlookers, however, needed no flag: The sight of these marchers was enough. Everyone sensed that beside each man in the column walked a ghost. The day was May 29, 1890, in Richmond, Virginia, a time for memories and ghosts. The previous week, the former capital of the Confederacy had been gripped with a "frenzy of Southern feeling," according to a newspaper reporter. Drygood stores sold Confederate emblems; a huge confederate flag draped across the façade of the city hall; and thousands of invited guests and visitors spilled from railroad cars. The city seemingly resonated with the sounds of the past. The occasion long planned and anticipated was the unveiling of an equestrian statue of Robert E. Lee. Sculptor J. A. C. Mercie had designed and created the monument to the former commander of the Army of Northern Virginia, and a coterie of Lee's lieutenants in the army ---Jubal A. Early, Fitzhugh Lee, John B. Gordon and others assisted in the preparations. Invitations were extended to former officers, units, and veterans of the confederacy's most famous army. In the capital of the long-dead Confederacy, the justness of the Lost Cause and the greatness of Lee's military genius would be affirmed. At noon on the 29th, the chief marshal and the general's nephew, Fitzhugh Lee, mounted on a iron-gray horse, led the parade down Broad Street. Behind him came bands playing music and ranks of young men in uniform, striding forth with the assurance of their years and with the dreams of untested warriors. The crowds of spectators lining the street watched this passage of youth closely, but they were there to see and honor the veterans of Malvern Hill, Second Manassas, Sharpsburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, the Wilderness and Appomattox.
    As the old soldiers ---- the youth of an earlier generation who had christened the Confederacy with their sacrifices for four long years --- appeared, the onlookers cheered. At the head of the column rode John Gordon, the ramrod-straight Georgian who had led Lee's army in that final march on the road at Appomattox. Behind him and interspersed among the ranks of the veterans came other generals ---Early, Joseph E. Johnston, Wade Hampton, Cadmus M. Wilcox, Joseph Kershaw, Charles Field, Joseph Wheeler, and E. Porter Alexander. The crowed greeted each of them with additional cheering.

    But as the carriage of one former general passed, the response of the people increased, rippling along the parade route and rising in volume like a volley of musketry fired from one end of the battleline to the other. When former soldiers in the column recognized their old chief, they broke ranks, stopping the procession. A few of the men volunteered to lead the horses throughout the route. At the platform near the covered monument, the general, took his place on the stand. The assembled veterans emitted a yell, that eerie Southern battle cry that had echoed across numerous bloody fields.

    James Longstreet, former lieutenant general and commander of the First Corps, Army of Northern Virginia, had arrived. His journey to this place and time had been long. For the better part of the past two decades he and been an apostate, a scapegoat for the majority of Southerners. His record in the war had been vilified and falsified, his devotion to the confederacy had been questioned. He defended himself in print but did it poorly and only enhanced the efforts of this detractors. The organizers of the event had not invited him until the some of his former artillerymen insisted that he attend as their escort, and he accepted. As he sat down, he knew that to many of former comrades on the platform he was an unwanted presence.
    On this day for memories, however, the veterans of the army remembered James Longstreet as a soldier and saluted him. They knew he belonged there, for he had earned their respect and devotion from the beginning at First Manassas to the end at Appomattox. Although he now looked "old, feeble, indeed badly broken up" to one of his former staff officers, they recalled him as a robust, powerful, and tireless man whose battlefield courage and sincere concern for their welfare had few equals in the army. He had the soul of a soldier, and they never forgot it.

    So he sat before the men he cared most about, at the foot of a monument dedicated to the general who had called him "my old war-horse." It was as it should have been----a day for memories, a day for ghosts, a day for soldiers.


    I hope you enjoyed that as much as I did. This describes the man I became fascinated with many years ago. If you like, join me on a journey spanning his entire lifetime through a series of threads. Get to know the man Lee called his "old war-horse"
     
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2017

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  3. FarawayFriend

    FarawayFriend Captain Silver Patron Trivia Game Winner

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    Wonderful!!
    It gives me chills, too and I'm so glad that he could feel the affection of his men. He always was a soldiers' soldier and he must have grieved a lot in the years when he had become the underdog (as we will learn here later, without any doubt).
    I will be glad to embark this thread and make the journey through his life!
    Thanks for starting this thread about my favorite general!
     
  4. War Horse

    War Horse Captain Forum Host Silver Patron Trivia Game Winner Regtl. Quartermaster Gettysburg 2017 Member of the Year

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    Thank you. Wert is a gifted author.
     
  5. JohnW.

    JohnW. Sergeant Major

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    That is excellent!!! Keep'em comin :D
     
  6. Irishtom29

    Irishtom29 Sergeant

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    I seem to recall reading of a post war incident in which Longstreet was feted and cheered by veterans of the Army of the Cumberland; at a banquet, picnic, dedication or some such affair.

    The Army of the Cumberland was the western Federal army Longstreet fought at Chickamauga, a battle in the west.
     
  7. War Horse

    War Horse Captain Forum Host Silver Patron Trivia Game Winner Regtl. Quartermaster Gettysburg 2017 Member of the Year

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    Stay tuned.
     
    KansasFreestater, JohnW., Bee and 3 others like this.
  8. Eleanor Rose

    Eleanor Rose First Sergeant Member of the Month

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    Thanks for this thread @War Horse! I always enjoy reading about my favorite General!!
     
  9. War Horse

    War Horse Captain Forum Host Silver Patron Trivia Game Winner Regtl. Quartermaster Gettysburg 2017 Member of the Year

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    Awe shucks, it's the least I can do!
     
  10. Kip124thNY

    Kip124thNY Corporal

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    Very moving, thanks for posting.
     
  11. lelliott19

    lelliott19 2nd Lieutenant Forum Host Trivia Game Winner

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    Great post @War Horse . I thoroughly enjoyed reading it!!!!

    Perhaps these two quotes are also helpful in gaining some insight into the life and times of Lee's "Old War Horse."

    It is impossible to please Longstreet more than by praising Lee. I believe these two generals to be as little ambitious and as thoroughly unselfish as any men in the world. Both long for a successful termination of the war, in order that they may retire into obscurity.
    ~ Lt Col Arthur Freemantle, Diary of an English Officer in the Confederate Army.

    And this one - a bit less commonly known:
    A few days later as I entered my Hotel I confronted the tall figure and somber, introspective face of General Longstreet whom I had visited a year before at his home in Gainesville, Georgia. We conversed a few moments, then shook hands and parted, but as he passed into the street I followed him. From the door-step I watched him slowly making his cautious way through throngs of lesser men (who gave no special heed to him), and as I thought of the days when his dread name was second only to Lee's in the fear and admiration of the North, I marveled at the change in twenty years. Now he was a deaf, hesitant old man, sorrowful of aspect, poor, dim-eyed, neglected, and alone. "Swift are the changes of life, and especially of American life," I made note. "Most people think of Longstreet as a dead man, yet there he walks, the gray ghost of the Confederacy, silent, alone."
    ~
    Hamlin Garland, A Daughter of the Middle Border, 1921.
    https://archive.org/stream/daughtersmidd00garlrich#page/58/mode/2up/search/Longstreet ~ page 59
     
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2017
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  12. Eleanor Rose

    Eleanor Rose First Sergeant Member of the Month

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    The Gardner quote is so poignant it's difficult for me to read. My heart breaks for this aged warrior who sacrificed so much and was treated so poorly. Thank you @lelliott19 for sharing this. I take solace in knowing General Longstreet's image is being viewed by many in a more accurate light.
     
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  13. War Horse

    War Horse Captain Forum Host Silver Patron Trivia Game Winner Regtl. Quartermaster Gettysburg 2017 Member of the Year

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    OMG I have never read quote two before. How awesome. I so love it. Thank you for sharing @lelliott19
     
  14. War Horse

    War Horse Captain Forum Host Silver Patron Trivia Game Winner Regtl. Quartermaster Gettysburg 2017 Member of the Year

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    Just wait. If you have never read a biography on Longstreet before and even If you have. I will venture to say we will learn things about the man we have never known before. This is going to be fun!
     
  15. ucvrelics.com

    ucvrelics.com Sergeant Major Forum Host

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    Great Post on ONE of the most prolific Confederate Generals. I have always put him in the same reverence as Gen Jackson.
     
  16. War Horse

    War Horse Captain Forum Host Silver Patron Trivia Game Winner Regtl. Quartermaster Gettysburg 2017 Member of the Year

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    Actually superior. Not my opinion alone. See the appointments to Lt General. Lee made sure that Longstreet's appointment superseded Jackson's' making Longstreet second in command!
     
  17. Bee

    Bee 1st Lieutenant Asst. Regtl. Quartermaster Gettysburg 2017

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    I place my Longstreet enlightenment in your capable hands :smile: I have not read any formal publications on him, so I eagerly await for what you shall present.
     
  18. War Horse

    War Horse Captain Forum Host Silver Patron Trivia Game Winner Regtl. Quartermaster Gettysburg 2017 Member of the Year

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    :smile:
     
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  19. JPChurch

    JPChurch Private

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    I have his memoirs "From Manassas to Appomattox." A must read. I can't imagine the anguish he suffered when his children died of the fever.
     
  20. Irishtom29

    Irishtom29 Sergeant

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    I think Longstreet was as good a corps commander as the war produced and the best the rebellion produced. I rate him with corps commanders like Thomas, McPherson, Sherman, Logan, Ord and Hancock--perhaps higher, but only as a corps commander; Thomas, Sherman, Ord and McPherson were better suited for army command than Longstreet.
     
  21. FarawayFriend

    FarawayFriend Captain Silver Patron Trivia Game Winner

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    Yes, that's hearbreaking.
    That is why I think he so deserved Helen Dortch Longstreet to become his second wife. Helen did everything she could and never tired to restore the reputation the General deserved. She must have been such a comfort for him, someone who stood by him no matter what. -It's a pity his grown up children did not understand that.

    You will sure like him. He is not the flawless hero, but a man who struggled to find his own position between loyalty and what he thought was his own better knowledge - just as probably anyone of us had to do at least once in our lives.
    And in his most criticized actions after the war, I admire him, too. He did what I sure could not: adjust to the outcome of the war and accept defeat. Or even not just accept it, but make the best from it without denying that during the war he had done all that he could to prevent that outcome. Some call him a turncoat, but to me he was not. He never lost his love for the South and its people, he never regretted he had fought for both, but he saw at that early stage that there was no use to cry over what could have been. “The sword has decided otherwise“ - so better accept that and find a way to cope with the new situation. Life did not end, it just changed.

    I just hope this thread will gain him a few new friends. I'm pretty sure our @War Horse will make that happen.
     

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