James Longstreet was born in South Carolina near the Georgia line and later moved with his family to Augusta, GA. His father had aspirations for him in a military career and worked to get him an appointment to US Military Academy, which finally resulted in admission to the class of 1842. This class was noted for a number of cadets who would later serve as generals on both sides of the Civil War. Longstreet, however, didn’t exactly show a lot of promise among the group, graduating 54th out of 56th in his class.
During his initial deployment following his West Point commission in Missouri Lieutenant Longstreet met Ulysees Grant, with whom he would form a life long friendship. It was here that he also met his wife Louisa. The Longstreet’s had ten children over a 40 year marriage. His pre-Civil War career was highlighted by exceptional service in the Mexican-American War, where he was wounded in the decisive Battle of Chapultepec in 1847. When the Civil War broke out in 1861 Longstreet was not in favor of succession, but since he had been sent to the Academy by a southern state he believed he was obligated to fight for the Confederacy. He began his Confederate military career at the First Battle of Bull Run in July 1861. This action led to his promotion to the rank of major general over a division of the Army of Northern Virginia. However Longstreet’s success on the battlefield was tragically interrupted by the death’s of three of his children during one week in January 1862 in a scarlet fever epidemic. The normally jovial soldier was devastated by this loss and somewhere in his grief appears to have experienced a life transforming religious conversion experience.
|Great painting of Longstreet and his staff circa 1863 by|
my favorite Civil War artist Mort Kunstler
|Battlefield map of the Union attack against Longstreet's|
defenses at Marye's Heights, Fredericksburg,
December 13, 1863
|Longstreet statue at his observation point for |
Pickett's Charge, Gettysburg Battlefield
Following Gettysburg Longstreet’s corps was transferred to the Army of Tennessee. His experience there was mixed – a great tactical victory at Chickamauga (September 1863) which was not followed up on by the confederate command, but also strife and dissension among the senior command of that army. Longstreet’s corps rejoined the Army of Northern Virginia just prior to the Battle of the Wilderness in May 1864. A severe wound from friendly fire in this battle removed him from action till just before the Siege at Petersburg, and he remained in significant field command until the surrender at Appomattox.
|A portlier Longstreet during his |
|Longstreet late in life - the man|
liked his facial hair!
James Longstreet is buried in the Alta Vista Cemetery in Gainesville, GA. I was able to swerve off of I-85 with my unsuspecting family to visit his grave on a trip back from the Mall of Georgia to my mom’s house in Toccoa. My family won’t let me drive them to the Mall of Georgia anymore.
|Your blogger at Longstreet's grave in Gainesville, GA|