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The General's Children...

Discussion in 'James Longstreet' started by Private Watkins, Sep 8, 2015.

  1. Private Watkins

    Private Watkins 2nd Lieutenant

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    upload_2015-9-8_17-7-46.png

    Great article posted over at the Longstreet Society...

    Who Buried the Children?
    Original research by Longstreet Society member Jan Vanderheiden


    In Richmond, VA during winter 1862, the three youngest children of General James and Maria Louisa Longstreet died from scarlet fever. This personal tragedy is mentioned in biographies and discussions of Longstreet the General. However events that happened, or did not happen in regards to little Mary Ann, James Jr. and Augustus Baldwin Longstreet following their deaths seem vague and troubled. For many decades it was believed that in those dark hours James and Louise were too distraught to see to the children’s funeral arrangements, or even attend the services. Longstreet’s friend Brigadier General George Pickett, who was in Richmond at the time with 16 year-old LaSalle Corbell, intervened. It was George and Sally (soon to be the third Mrs. George Pickett) who took care of all arrangements and attended for the grief-stricken parents. However, this long established tale rings false for some Longstreet scholars, especially since the only source for its authenticity is contained within a letter of condolence written by LaSalle herself to Longstreet’s second wife, Helen, upon the General’s passing on January 4, 1904.

    To read the rest of the article, please go here...
    http://www.longstreetsociety.org/who-buried-the-children.html

    longstreet.jpg
     
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2016

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  3. tdftdf

    tdftdf Corporal

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    Nice photo of the tombstone. Thanks for sharing
     
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  4. Private Watkins

    Private Watkins 2nd Lieutenant

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    Here is another photo of the "three-in-one" tombstone; clearly one stone along the base with three individual memorials along the upper half. Three losses, three tragedies all at once... one set of heartbroken parents.
    [​IMG]
     
  5. Aussie Billy Sherman

    Aussie Billy Sherman First Sergeant

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    The question is, did these circumstances affect Longstreet in his conduct of the war and dealing with other southern soldiers?
     
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  6. Patrick H

    Patrick H Major

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    How could this have failed to affect him? He might or might not have been able to effectively work through his loss--I don't know enough about the man to have an opinion about how well he did that.
     
  7. Allie

    Allie Captain

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    I'd like to see research on what percent of prominent figures lost a first degree family member during the war. It seems almost unthinkable to us today that someone could suffer such a loss and just go on working, but to them it was such a common occurrence. If the world stopped every time a child died, not much would have gotten done.

    I'm interested in hearing more about how the children came to be in the Davies vault. The article is pretty vague on that subject, saying "It has since been discovered..." with no explanation of how or by whom. It seems that if there is any truth to Mrs. Pickett's tale, it would concern the temporary placing of the children in this vault.
     
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2015
  8. Private Watkins

    Private Watkins 2nd Lieutenant

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    Lincoln, Davis, Lee, & Rooney Lee are easy to name off top of the head as all having lost immediate family members during the war, so yes was not uncommon per se. In the case of the Longstreets, losing 3 out of their 4 children in the span of a week might have been particularly impactful even by the standards of the era...
     
  9. JPK Huson 1863

    JPK Huson 1863 Colonel Forum Host

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    Surely even Sally wouldn't stretch the truth when it came to this awful event in the Longstreet family's life together? I mean, I've always kind of liked the part of Sally which insisted on keeping her husband's memory.alive even if he may not have recognized himself. Also perhaps she would have- but as a mother writing to another seems pretty ruthless to insert a false memory about dead children.

    The tombstone says ' Our fifth son ', and ' our second daughter ', must have been at least 7 at one time- did the Longstreets only have one child by the end of the war?
     
  10. FarawayFriend

    FarawayFriend Major Silver Patron Trivia Game Winner

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    From what I know, they had two children by the end of the war. John Garland, born in 1848 and Robert Lee, born 1863. James Jr. (the second son by the name of James) was born shortly after the war, in May 1865.
    At the beginning of the war they had four surviving children. Another baby son, William Dent, born in 1853 had passed away even before the war, in 1854.

    Interestingly we can read everywhere that James and Maria Louisa had 10 children together, 5 of whom survived until adulthood. But Find a Grave states only 9 children for James as well as for Louisa.

    Children:
    John G. Longstreet (1848 - 1918)*
    Augustus Baldwin Longstreet (1850 - 1862)*
    William Dent Longstreet (1853 - 1854)*
    James Longstreet (1857 - 1862)*
    Mary Anne Longstreet (1860 - 1862)*
    Robert Lee Longstreet (1863 - 1940)*
    James Longstreet (1865 - 1922)*
    Fitz Randolph Longstreet (1869 - 1951)*
    Maria Louisa Longstreet Whelchel (1872 - 1957)*
    http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=642

    http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=10962283

    Does anybody know about the 10th child?
     
  11. Northern Light

    Northern Light Major

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    The stone says " our second daughter", so perhaps there was one that was stillborn or died shortly after birth.
     
  12. FarawayFriend

    FarawayFriend Major Silver Patron Trivia Game Winner

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    Thanks for the hint to a first daughter, and indeed, there was one!
    In Wert's Longstreet bio, p. 50 is said that they had a daughter, Harriet Margaret, who only lived from March 12th, 1856 until August 30th. So they had lost two children within 2 years even before the war.
    Never had thought about that earlier. Thank you!
     
  13. PeterT

    PeterT 1st Lieutenant

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    That would make sense. I know from family trees in my own family there are several little ones without names, dying within days of birth. Some with names, some without.
     
  14. K Hale

    K Hale Colonel Civil War Photo Contest
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    Stuart lost his daughter to scarlet fever right before Gettysburg.
     
  15. Allie

    Allie Captain

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    Add Sherman to the list, he lost a son during the war.

    My Rice family lost two children to scarlet fever during their trip from SC to Tennessee in the 1830's. My mom also had it as a child and nearly died. It's one of those diseases which anti-vaccine people today often claim "aren't all that dangerous." Those folks need to read more history.
     
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  16. GELongstreet

    GELongstreet Captain Trivia Game Winner

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    It is attested, I think it was by Moxley Sorrel in his autobiography, that Longstreet's headquarters were a very sociable place during the early war - the usual stuff: gambling, drinking, singing etc. etc. with Longstreet in the thick of it. Now after the children died he was said to become much more quiet ... and while he still allowed the merry headquarter gatherings he only seldomly attended from now on.
     
  17. diane

    diane Brev. Brig. Gen'l

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    That tombstone is so very tragic and sad. It seems everybody lost children - it was all so fragile and tough at the same time. The survivors were generally very strong.

    I've heard that this tragedy, coming so suddenly, really changed Longstreet personally - as one might think. He had been "Old Pete", a guy who liked a good time and a happy conversation. After his loss, though, people noticed he was different - past the grieving stage and still different. Much more serious and a bit morose. I do wonder if that affected his fighting style - he would defend very well but hit like a sledge hammer when he decided to!
     
  18. Northern Light

    Northern Light Major

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    My great grandmother lost three children in one week during an epidemic of diphtheria in the 1870s. The rest of her 12 children lived to adulthood.
    Had vaccinations been available, they all probably would have lived. I don't understand those who refuse vaccinations. My second son caught whooping cough at 7 months, before he had had all his vaccinations. He was sick enough, but having read about the disease, I know how much worse it could have been. He coughed for well over a year after, even with all the antibiotics and whatever other drugs he had. His older brother, who had all his shots was fine.
     
  19. Private Watkins

    Private Watkins 2nd Lieutenant

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    Hard to imagine, how tragic...
     
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  20. DixieRifles

    DixieRifles 1st Lieutenant

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  21. donna

    donna Brev. Brig. Gen'l Forum Host

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    I have looked in many sites and can't find name for the other child. All the sites say there were 10 children.

    I did find this :

    "Tragedy struck the Longstreet family in January, 1862. A scarlet fever epidemic in Richmond claimed the lives of the one year old daughter Mary Anne, his four year old son James and six year old Augustus ("Gus"), all within a week. His 13 year old son Garland almost succumbed. The losses were devastating for Longstreet and he became withdrawn both personally and socially. In 1861 his headquarters were noted for parties, drinking and poker games. After he returned from the funeral the headquarters social life became more somber, he rarely drank and he became a devout Episcopalian."

    https://www.geni.com/people/General-James-Longstreet-CSA/5401102801320082800

    So many Civil War generals and others had great personal tragedies. It is so sad.
     

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