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Author Topic: 1821: THER BIRTH OF 'LEE'S OLD WARHORSE'  (Read 24 times)
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« on: January 08, 2018, 03:36:34 pm »

He was Lee's longest serving Corps Commander [Ist Corp]. He broke Pope at Second Manassas, destroyed the Union position at Chickamauga, and commanded [against his will, and counter to his advice] Lee's attack on the center of the Union line at Gettysburg. He was GEN. James Longstreet, and he was born on this day.

Longstreet attended West Point, fought [and was wounded] in the Mexican War, and was commissioned as a Brigadier General in the Confederate Army after resigning his commission in the United States Army. Aside from a stint in the west from Chickamauga to late 1863 with his corps, Longstreet spent his entire career in the East, starting at Bull Run. But it was with the assumption of command of what became known as the Army of Northern Virginia by Robert E. Lee that  Longstreet came into his own.

Commanding one of two infantry Corps in that Army [Thomas 'Stonewall' Jackson commanded the other], Longstreet fought at Second Manassas, Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville with distinction. He was so close to Lee that 'Pete' [his nickname from West Point] became known as "Lee's Old Warhorse".

After Chancellorsville, and Jackson's death, with the reorganization of Lee's Army, Longstreet became the senior Corps commander in Lee's Army [Lee restructured his infantry into THREE Corps, with Richard Ewell getting Jackson's old Corps, and Ambrose Powell Hill getting the new Third Corps]. And then it was on to Gettysburg.

Due to the order of march, Longstreet's Corps was the last of the three to arrive at the Gettysburg battlefield, on the afternoon of the second day. His last division [Pickett's] didn't arrive until that night, and was the only unblooded unit in the army  [which was why it led what is known as Pickett's Charge.

Longstreet had counseled, from the beginning of Gettysburg on, that Lee should interpose his Army in a defensive position between The Army of the Potomac and Washington, and force the Union to attack him. but Lee, his 'blood up', would have none of it, and after two days of failures [first Culp's hill, then the Round Tops] decided to attack the Union center on Cemetery Ridge, an attack eerily similar, topographically and otherwise, to the slaughter of the union troops at Fredericksburg some seven months earlier.

Longstreet argued against the attack, to no avail. He then sought to have A.P. hill command the attack, since most of the troops in Pickett's Charge came from hill's Corps. Again, 'No'. Longstreet literally procrastinated to the point where his assent to the request by the Army's artillery  commander to open fire became the order to attack. The results are well known.

In 1864, after his return from the West, Longstreet received a serious throat wound during the Battle of the Wilderness. The enemy commander at the time was Longstreet's friend from the Point, and the husband if one of his cousins, U.S. Grant.

By the time Longstreet returned, some six months later, the handwriting was on the wall. He was with Lee at Appomattox, and renewed his friendship with Grant. And after the war, he became a Republican, accepted several government posts from his friend, and entered several businesses.

But it was during this period that Longstreet became anathema in the South. First, he had become a Republican. Second, during his time  in New Orleans as a Federal government agent, he had led a militia against White rioters. And, third, he challenged the blossoming orthodoxy that developed into "The Lost Cause" in a variety of southern journals and periodicals, i.e. that the Union won the war only because of material advantage, and that Robert E. Lee was without military sin.

Jubal Early started by laying the blame for Gettysburg on Longstreet. Longstreet argued that the fault was Lee's, an argument akin to a mortal sin. And by the time it was over, Longstreet was persona non grata in the land he had fought so hard for.

History has been somewhat kinder to Longstreet than Jubal Early was. Longstreet is now recognized as a good strategist, and a great tactician, a general who anticipated, early on, the advantages of the tactical defenses. But the fact remains that aside from a recently erected statue on the field of Gettysburg, no statue of James Longstreet exists on any Civil War battlefield, nor anyplace in the south he served so valiantly.

You can get more with a smile, a handshake and a gun than you can with a smile and a handshake - Al Capone
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