Today in History:

James Longstreet

Photo:  James Longstreet

James Longstreet

James Longstreet
1821-1904, South Carolina

At the age of ten Longstreet moved to Alabama with his parents. He graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1842 and served in the Mexican War, during which he was severely wounded and also brevetted as a major. He was promoted to captain in 1852 and to major and paymaster in 1858 and stationed at Albuquerque, New Mexico. Resigning his commission in 1861, Longstreet was commissioned a brigadier general in the Confederate Army and ordered to report to Manassas, where he commanded a brigade. On 18 July his command repulsed a Federal attack at Blackburn's Ford; during the Battle of First Bull Run on 21 July, it threatened the Federal rear. In October he was promoted to major general and given command of a division under General Johnston. During the summer of 1862 he commanded the right wing of the Confederate army before Richmond in the Battle of Seven Pines. He commanded his own and Maj. Gen. A. P. Hill's divisions under Lee in the successful Battles of Gaines' Mill and Frayser's Farm. Afterward he commanded a wing of Lee's Army of Northern Virginia. At Second Bull Run, 30-31 August 1862, Longstreet's wing was instrumental in crushing Pope's army and driving it back to Washington. In the Maryland Campaign his command fought at South Mountain on 14 September and in the Battle of Antie- tam on 17 September.

In October Longstreet was promoted to lieutenant general and his wing was redesignated the I Corps. The I Corps was responsible for the successful defense of Marye's Heights in the Battle of Fredericksburg on 13 December. In 1862 Longstreet suffered a personal tragedy when three of his four children died in Richmond of scarlet fever. In the spring of 1863 Longstreet operated with part of his corps at Suffolk, Virginia, missing the Battle of Chancellorsville, 1-6 May; but he soon rejoined Lee at Fredericksburg. The Gettysburg Campaign found Longstreet's corps moving into Pennsylvania, and he personally reached the field at Gettysburg on the afternoon of 1 July. On 2 July Hood's and McLaws' divisions of Longstreet's corps (Maj. Gen. George E. Pickett's division having not yet arrived), made an unsuccessful attempt to turn the Federal left. Pickett's division arrived by 3 July and, reinforced by commands from A. P. Hill's corps, unsuccessfully attempted to break the Federal center. After Lee's army had retired to Virginia, Longstreet, with Hood's and McLaws' divisions, was sent to reinforce General Braxton Bragg in northern Georgia, where Longstreet, as a commander of the left wing at Chickamauga, crushed the Federal right. Rejoining the Army of Northern Virginia in time for Grant's 1864 Overland Campaign, Longstreet's command participated in the Battle of the Wilderness, where on 6 May he was wounded accidentally by his own men. After returning to duty Longstreet commanded a portion of the defense of Richmond, and his command later joined the retreat at Appomattox. After the war Longstreet settled in New Orleans and became a member of the Republican Party, much to the chagrin of his former Confederate comrades. President Grant appointed him surveyor of customs, and Longstreet served as U.S. marshal of Georgia and minister to Turkey.

Content From:
The U.S. Army Center of Military History