Mrs. General Longstreet

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Northern Light

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Maria Louisa Garland Longstreet
Most of us who are interested have probably heard of Helen Dortch Longstreet, who did everything she could to rehabilitate her husband’s reputation, but we are less familiar with the woman who was his first love, who bore his children, and who was married to him for over forty years. This is not surprising, as little is known about Maria Louisa Garland Longstreet.
Louise, as she was known by her family and friends, was born at Fort Snelling in the Minnesota Territory on March 16, 1827, the fourth child and third daughter of Harriet Smith and John Spotswood Garland. John Garland was a native of Virginia and distantly related to James Madison, and was a career soldier in the U.S. Army. Her mother was the daughter of Jacob Smith, founder of Flint Michigan. Louise and her siblings were born at the various places that their father was stationed during the 1820s and 1830s.

When she was fifteen, Louise met James Longstreet at Jefferson Barracks in 1843. He was twenty-one and under the command of John Garland. For Longstreet, it seemed like love at first sight. Her parents thought that she was too young to marry and urged a delay until Louise was older. Longstreet’s regiment was transferred to Louisiana and they were parted for a time.

The Mexican War began in and in the course of it, Longstreet was wounded. While recovering he headed to Lynchburg, Va. where Louise was staying with family. The romance bloomed and after a wait of four years, Louise and Longstreet were married on the evening of March 8, 1848 at the home of her uncle, Judge James Garland on Madison Street, known locally as Garland Hill.


This is the earliest picture I could find of Longstreet, before the war in his United States uniform.

1553812101468.png

Isn't he cute? LOL
 

Northern Light

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Like her mother, Louise followed her husband as he was transferred from place to place. Their first child, John Garland, who was named for Louise’s father, was born in December of 1848 at Carlisle Barracks in Pennsylvania. Garland was followed by nine siblings:
Augustus Baldwin b.1850 in San Antonio,Texas

William Dent-b.1853 in San Antonio,Texas d. 1854 in Washington, DC
Harriet Margaret- b. 1856 San Antonio,Texas, died the same year.
James Longstreet- b. 1857 in Santa Fe, New Mexico
Mary Anne Longstreet= b. 1860 in Richmond, Virginia
Robert Lee Longstreet- b. 1863 in Petersburg, Viginia

James Longstreet, Jr.-b. 1865 in Lynchburg, Virginia
FitzRandolph Longstreet- b. 1869 in Lynchburg, Virginia
Maria Louisa Longstreet- b. 1872 in Flint Michigan


In 1849, Longstreet was transferred to San Antonio, Texas, a posting that they both liked. There, their next child Augustus Baldwin was born.

By 1854, Louise was in Washington with the General when their young son, William Dent, died at the age of one. Louise wrote this eulogy for him:


He gave thee, He took thee, and He will restore thee,
For death has no sting since the Saviour hath died.

The following year, they were at Fort Bliss, Texas. George Pickett was stationed here at the same time and they became close friends. The social scene of Fort Bliss was very active and entertaining, and Louise was at the centre of it. Later, Louise’s parents were posted nearby, which was helpful with their growing family. This stay was marred by the death of their baby daughter, Harriet Marie, who died she was just months old. A third son, James, Jr., was born the following year.
 

Northern Light

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In 1858, the Longstreets came East again, in order to get Garland settled into a new school in New York. Longstreet was stationed at Ft. Leavenworth in Kansas briefly and then was back to Ft. Bliss.

This was a turbulent time for Louise, as her mother died in 1860 in New York When the Civil War started, her husband decided to support the Confederacy, whilst her father stayed in the Union army, until his death in 1861. Parting with many army friends was hard and Louise was left alone with the children when Longstreet resigned and went to Richmond.

She had returned to Richmond by 1862, when an epidemic of Scarlet Fever swept through the city. All four of the children came down with it and the tree youngest died. Garland was seriously ill, but recovered eventually. Louise was devastated, by this tragedy, and Longstreet rushed to her side. George Pickett and Sally Corbell had helped nurse the children and were the ones who made the funeral arrangements. The grieving parents were unable to attend the funeral. A distance opened between Louise and the general, that was never completely bridged. Whether Louise held Longstreet responsible for the deaths, or whether they were so lost in their own grief is impossible to tell, but it was said that neither of them was ever the same. Well, one wouldn’t be, would one.

1553813276798.png
 
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Northern Light

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In December 1862, Louise travelled to Fredericksburg, where the Confederate army was in winter quarters. The general met her at the station with an ambulance drawn by four gray horses, with bells. He was with Louise every night and as often as possible during the day.

The following year, Louise gave birth to a son, Robert Lee. In September, the general met his new son for the first time. General Lee also met his namesake for the first time.

After Appomattox, Louise returned to her home town of Lynchburg, where she gave birth to James Jr. Longstreet left to find a place for them to live in the South. He settled on New Orleans and Louise and children joined him by Christmas 1865. They were often apart, due to his travelling for business. Louise departed for Lynchburg whenever there was any scare of Yellow Fever, in the crescent city. She had the support of family there, and Longstreet was often away on business. She stayed in the United States when he was appointed as ambassador to Turkey as well.

This is a lovely photo of Louise with Robert and James Jr.
1553813878476.png




Louise gave birth to two more children, FitzRandolf in 1869 in Lynchburg, and Maria Louisa, known as "Lulu", in Flint Michigan in 1872'

The family moved to Gainesville, Georgia in 1875, where they ran the Piedmont hotel. In April of 1889, their house in Gainesville caught fire and they lost everything. In the fall of that year, Louise fell ill and died on December 29th, at the age of sixty-two.

Louise in older age:
1553814357815.png


Louise’s life was filled with more sorrows than many are called to face, especially in the loss of five of her children the loss of five of her children. Longstreet never mentioned her in any of his writing, and much of the little we know of her comes from Helen Dortch, Longstreet’s second wife. Although Longstreet had loved her in his youth, tumultuous times years and deep sorrow had pulled them apart, both victims of that terrible war.
 

JPK Huson 1863

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What an excellent thread, thanks very much Northern Light!! Not to take a thing away from Helen but we rarely hear of the woman who endured the war with her husband. That both could face what had to be the knowledge more tragedy could happen, and had so many more children is a testimony to sheer faith.

1889. Not just his military career and the entire war- Louise saw her husband vilified post war too. Agreed, she endured more than anyone could be asked to.
 
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Northern Light

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What an excellent thread, thanks very much Northern Light!! Not to take a thing away from Helen but we rarely hear of the woman who endured the war with her husband. That both could face what had to be the knowledge more tragedy could happen, and had so many more children is a testimony to sheer faith.

1889. Not just his military career and the entire war- Louise saw her husband vilified post war too. Agreed, she endured more than anyone could be asked to.
Thanks, JPK. It was hard sledding to find even this much. Notice how much she has changed since the picture with the boys. She had a long row to hoe.
 
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Cavalry Charger

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Northern Light

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Her daughter Maria Louisa was born in my hometown of Flint , Michigan while Louise was visiting an aunt , July 29 , 1872. I wonder why she travelled so far from home so late in her pregnancy . Perhaps she just needed to get away from all the stress and tragedy .
She may have decided to go on a long visit to Flint, due to the potential for fever in New Orleans.
 
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AnnaLee

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I had just read about Louise last week in a short narrative about her life. Your post is much more informative. So much personal tragedy in her life. I can't think of anything worse than losing some of your children. I prefer learning about the individual lives of those in the civil war rather than the battles. Thank you Northern Light for the interesting thread.
 

Northern Light

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I had just read about Louise last week in a short narrative about her life. Your post is much more informative. So much personal tragedy in her life. I can't think of anything worse than losing some of your children. I prefer learning about the individual lives of those in the civil war rather than the battles. Thank you Northern Light for the interesting thread.
Thank you, Anna Lee. I am glad you enjoyed it.
 

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Thank you, Anna Lee. I am glad you enjoyed it.
I thoroughly enjoyed it, too. So little is heard of her and yet their marriage was long and fruitful. I think she deserves more recognition.

We also don't know how she felt about her husband's conversion to Catholicism after the war and his decision to change his political allegiances. There were so many things to challenge this marriage it's a shame there isn't more written about her.

I do find it extraordinary Longstreet never mentioned her in his any of his writings. Like she never even existed.
 
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Northern Light

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I thoroughly enjoyed it, too. So little is heard of her and yet their marriage was long and fruitful. I think she deserves more recognition.

We also don't know how she felt about her husband's conversion to Catholicism after the war and his decision to change his political allegiances. There were so many things to challenge this marriage it's a shame there isn't more written about her.

I do find it extraordinary Longstreet never mentioned her in his any of his writings. Like she never even existed.
As he converted after her death, I don't imagine she said much.:giggle: I wonder if he felt like his private life was private, and separate from his public persona. Classic GWM history, Ha!
 

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As he converted after her death, I don't imagine she said much
Oops! I thought it was while they were still married. It was in New Orleans where he was accepted into the Catholic faith.

Speaking of keeping your private life private reminds me of Ulysses S. Grant and how little mention there is of Julia or his family in his memoirs. Enough, though, that you knew she mattered ... even to the point of describing how it felt to fall in love with her.
 
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Kurt G

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I thoroughly enjoyed it, too. So little is heard of her and yet their marriage was long and fruitful. I think she deserves more recognition.

We also don't know how she felt about her husband's conversion to Catholicism after the war and his decision to change his political allegiances. There were so many things to challenge this marriage it's a shame there isn't more written about her.

I do find it extraordinary Longstreet never mentioned her in his any of his writings. Like she never even existed.
Perhaps her death and the loss of so many children was too painful to discuss.
 
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Thank you @Northern Light !! I admit that I'm a fan of Helen Dortch Longstreet, but it was about time that Maria Louisa got her own thread too. I'm not sure if the story about George and Sallie Pickett helping with the funeral of the Longstreet children is true - I think I remember we had a thread that proved it wrong... @War Horse, I'm sure you remember that and know better than me.
Recently I read Elizabeth Keckley's book "Behind the scenes" where she tells about her life that started being a slave owned by a Mrs. Ann Garland (!) and later becoming the confidante and friend of Mary Todd Lincoln. And lo and behold, I came across Mrs. General Longstreet there, too:
Snip-it_1553978501513.jpg

https://docsouth.unc.edu/neh/keckley/keckley.html
 
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