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Gen. James Longstreet born Jan. 8 1821


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James Longstreet


Born in Edgefield District, South Carolina, January 8, 1821, the son of a farmer, Longstreet spent his early years in Augusta, Georgia. On the death of his father he went with his mother to Somerville, Alabama. Corps commander James Longstreet made three mistakes that have denied him his deserved place in Southern posterity: He argued with Lee at Gettysburg, he was right, and he became a Republican. He entered West Point from Alabama, graduated in 1842, and was wounded at Chapultepec in Mexico. With two brevets and the staff rank of major he resigned his commission on June 1, 1861, and joined the Confederacy.


His assignments included: brigadier general, CSA June 17, 1861); commanding brigade (in 1st Corps after July 20), Army of the Potomac July 2 - October 7, 186 1); major general, CSA (October 7, 1861); commanding division, Ist Corps, Army of the Potomac (October 14-22, 1861); commanding division (in Potomac District until March 1862), Department of Northern Virginia (October 22, 1861 - July 1862); commanding lst Corps, Army of Northern Virginia July 1862 - February 25, 1863; May - September 9, 1863; April 12 - May 6, 1864; and October 19, 1864-April 9, 1865); lieutenant general, CSA (October 9, 1862); commanding Department of Virginia and North Carolina (February 25-May 1863); commanding his corps, Army of Tennessee (September 19-November 5, 1863); and commanding Department of East Tennessee (November 5, 1863-April 12, 1864).


Commanding a brigade, he fought at Blackburn's Ford and lst Bull Run before moving up to divisional leadership for the Peninsula Campaign. There he saw further action at Yorktown, Williamsburg, Seven Pines, and the Seven Days. In the final days of the latter he also directed A.P. Hill's men. Commanding what was variously styled a "wing," "command," or "corps," the latter not being legally recognized until October 1862, he proved to be a capable subordinate to Lee at 2nd Bull Run, where he delivered a crushing attack, South Mountain, Antietam, and Fredericksburg.



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This on-line edition of Lieutenant-General James Longstreet's memoirs is based directly on the 1912 second edition published by Lippincott, Philadelphia. General Longstreet, who began the American Civil War in New Mexico, served with great distinction throughout the course of the conflict. His chief claim to fame was as commander of the Confederate Army's First Corps, which in its various incarnations fought through most of the major wartime campaigns.

After the war, a clique of former Confederate officers began blaming General Longstreet for the army's defeat at Gettysburg. The most vocal instigators behind this slur campaign engaged in a great deal of partisan sniping at General Longstreet. It should be noted that this was done after General Lee's death — when Lee could no longer gainsay the critics — and after many of these people had begun careers in the Senate and Congress. Below is offered an item from Lee's post-war correspondence which leaves no doubt about his opinion of Longstreet:

"You must remember me very kindly to Mrs. Longstreet and all your children. I have not had an opportunity yet to return the compliment she paid me. I had, while in Richmond, a great many inquiries after you, and learned that you intended commencing business in New Orleans. If you become as good a merchant as you were a soldier, I shall be content. No one will then excel you, and no one can wish you more success and more happiness than I. My interest and affection for you will never cease, and my prayers are always offered for your prosperity."
Robert E. Lee, January 19, 1866.

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