1864. Although the war was over, the battle lines between the republican north and the south were still very much in evidence, and Longstreet's party affiliation—and his surprising conversion to Roman Catholicism—branded him a traitor in the Protestant south.

“Stonewall” Jackson were promoted to major general. His opposition to Lee’s plans affected his conduct. During these months, Longstreet demonstrated the characteristics that would mark his generalship. Lee had divided the army into two wings, under Jackson and Longstreet. He attended to details, conferred with and lectured to his brigade commanders and maintained strict discipline.

The first war that Longstreet was involved in w…

On October 7, 1830, young Longstreet was removed from the rural life he loved and sent to the Augusta, Georgia, home of his uncle, noted attorney Augustus B. Longstreet, where he enrolled at the prestigious Richmond County Academy. When he joined the Confederacy, he was appointed a brigadier general and assigned to the army at Manassas, Va. On July 18, 1861, his brigade repulsed a Union advance at Blackburns Ford. There, in the town's small courthouse, the war between the states was brought to a close, the cost the death of over 620,000 Americans. Although a Confederate victory, the battle revealed the bloody nature the war would take. History might have been kinder to “Old Pete,” as his men called him, if he had not survived the Wilderness wound. President Jefferson Davis met with Longstreet to appoint him with the rank of brigadier general. In vain, the "old warhorse" attempted to convince Lee that the Union forces were far from vanquished; as he later wrote, "when the [second day's] battle was over, General Lee pronounced it a success … but we had accomplished little toward victorious results." Three years after moving to Augusta, Longstreet suffered a family tragedy when his father died in a local cholera epidemic while on a visit. The battle raged for three hours, Sickle's troops strengthened by reserves led by General Gouverneur K. Warren. Lee, with Longstreet at his left flank and Jackson at his right, led 75,000 men against Burnside's 120,000. He aided his enemies by his writings. Meanwhile, the political climate between the northern states and Longstreet's native south deteriorated, issues of states' rights, slavery, and economics creating a divide that politics could not mend. Longstreet recognized Stuart’s talent for reconnaissance and became quite fond of the fun-loving officer. Rather, he counseled Lee that a series of counterstrikes against Union offensives were the best chance of winning the war. Union General George Sherman now began his move south, creating the path of devastation through Atlanta into Savannah that became known as "Sherman's march to the Sea." Longstreet, his wife, and their surviving son, 13-year-old Garland, were devastated. Longstreet knew early on the morning they were to attack, but did little to prepare for the attack. While stationed there, he fell in love with Mary Louisa Garland, the daughter of his regiment's commander; the couple honored her parent's request that they wait until Mary was older and were married in Lynchburg, Virginia, on March 8, 1848. Longstreet received command of a division, while Jackson was appointed commander of the Valley District, with headquarters in Winchester. By late spring, operations in Virginia had shifted to the Peninsula and Richmond. Lee thought otherwise, and the attackers went forward that afternoon into a cauldron of hellfire and were repulsed. After the campaign, Lee described Longstreet as “the staff in my right hand.”. Wounded by a bullet that passed through his throat and into his shoulder, Longstreet was forced to leave his post until October. With little intelligence as to the size or location of the opposing army, both Union troops under General George Meade and Lee's Confederates were in the process of resupplying and reorganizing their forces in anticipation of a major conflict. At the close of July 2, Longstreet's effort had All Rights Reserved.

Longstreet advocated a concentration of Confederate forces in Tennessee, arguing that he and his two divisions could be sent there by railroad.

The situation demanded action, and with Lee’s reluctant approval, Davis ordered Longstreet, with Hood’s and McLaws’ divisions, to the region. Longstreet was 42 years old in the summer of 1863. On the morning of May 6, as the right wing of Lee’s army streamed rearward before a massive Union assault, Longstreet’s veterans arrived on the Wilderness battlefield. At 4:00 in the afternoon, Longstreet ordered his First Corps northeast from Warfield Ridge, attacking Sickle's men in the Peach Orchard in an effort to occupy the strategic advantage at Little Round Top.

His defense of his conduct in the war was understandable. The troops boarded trains on September 9 for a circuitous journey west. Dubbed "Pete" by his family, Longstreet spent the first nine years engaged in farm work or outdoor activities with his older siblings William and Anna, as well as the four younger sisters he accumulated between 1822 and 1829. Bragg, meanwhile, advanced against Maj. Gen. William S. Rosecrans’ Federals, attacking them at Chickamauga Creek on September 19. He attended United States Military Academy and after graduating became a second lieutenant in the 4th US Infantry. Cognizant of his men's fatigue following their all-night march, Longstreet postponed his assault until 11:00, then ordered five divisions to attack the Union front line.

A soldier’s life had always appealed to Longstreet.

He later moved to Gainseville, Georgia as a result of frequent threats from southerners who resented his joining the Republican Party. While Stonewall Jackson’s lethargic performance during this fighting has been controversial ever since, Longstreet emerged as Lee’s most reliable combat commander. When Longstreet failed to prevent a Union occupation of Lookout Valley, Bragg sent him and his troops to retake Knoxville. It had been Lee’s decision to appoint Longstreet by date of rank as his senior subordinate. That evening Longstreet met with Lee, Ewell, and Hill. He was wounded in the Mexican American war at the battle of Chapultepec. Longstreet, James, From Manassas to Appomattox: Memoirs of the Civil War in America, edited by Jeffry D. Wert, Da Capo Press, 1992. Under Lee were Generals Longstreet, Richard S. Ewell, and A. P. Hill. Longstreet was shot and temporarily held by members of the anti-Reconstruction organization known as the White League during a violent protest 1874 protest in New Orleans. On Sunday, April 9, 1865, Longstreet accompanied a tired and beaten Robert E. Lee to Appomattox, West Virginia. Grant's election to the presidency in 1869 provided him with a new opportunity: the position of surveyor of customs in New Orleans, Louisiana, for a salary of $6,000 per year. In the days following Chickamauga, Longstreet urged General Bragg to pursue the withdrawing Union force and destroy it, but Bragg resisted, thereby losing the south's momentum. Longstreet reacted to the Federal attack with skill. For more great articles, be sure to subscribe to Civil War Times magazine today!

His position was further defended by his second wife, Helen Dorch Longstreet, who married him on September 8, 1897, when she was thirty-four.


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