Longstreet, James

Longstreet, James,

1821–1904, Confederate general in the American Civil War, b. Edgefield District, S.C. He graduated (1842) from West Point and served in the Mexican War, reaching the rank of major. At the outbreak of the Civil War he resigned from the U.S. army and became a Confederate brigadier general. He took part in the first battle of Bull Run and in the Peninsular campaign. His creditable performance at the second battle of Bull Run (1862), at Antietam, and at the battle of FredericksburgFredericksburg, battle of,
in the Civil War, fought Dec. 13, 1862, at Fredericksburg, Va. In Nov., 1862, the Union general Ambrose Burnside moved his three "grand divisions" under W. B. Franklin, E. V.
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 led to his promotion (Oct., 1862) to lieutenant general. In 1862–63 he held a semi-independent command S of the James River, returning too late to aid General Lee at Chancellorsville. He commanded the right wing at Gettysburg (1863), where his delay in taking the offensive is generally said to have cost Lee the battle (see Gettysburg campaignGettysburg campaign,
June–July, 1863, series of decisive battles of the U.S. Civil War. The Road to Gettysburg

After his victory in the battle of Chancellorsville, Confederate general Robert E. Lee undertook a second invasion of the North.
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). He fought at Chickamauga in the Chattanooga campaign and unsuccessfully besieged Knoxville (1863). Returning to Virginia in 1864, he distinguished himself in the Wilderness campaignWilderness campaign,
in the American Civil War, a series of engagements (May–June, 1864) fought in the Wilderness region of Virginia. Early in May, 1864, the Northern commander in chief, Grant, led the Army of the Potomac (118,000 strong) across the Rapidan River into the
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, where he was wounded. Longstreet participated in the last defense of Richmond, surrendering with Lee at Appomattox. After the war he settled in New Orleans, became a Republican, and held a number of federal posts. He criticized Lee's conduct at Gettysburg harshly and was long unpopular in the South. As a general, he is considered to have been a poor independent commander and strategist but an excellent combat officer. His opinions on the war are expressed in his From Manassas to Appomattox (1896, repr. 1960).

Bibliography

See G. Tucker, Lee and Longstreet at Gettysburg (1968); W. G. Piston, Lee's Tarnished Lieutenant: James Longstreet and His Place in Southern History (1987).

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Longstreet, James

(1821–1904) soldier; born in Edgefield District, S.C. Raised in Georgia and Alabama, he graduated from West Point (1842) and saw service during the Mexican War. He resigned his U.S. Army commission to join the Confederate army in June 1861. One of Lee's chief lieutenants, he was an outstanding combat officer but was sometimes overcautious as a commander; his delays at Gettysburg led to his being blamed for the Confederate failure there (although Lee and students of the battle have not confirmed this). After the Civil War he became a Republican—even backing Ulysses Grant for president—and he was shunned by many southerners; many years later, he would air his differences with Lee's decisions in his book, From Manassas to Appomattox (1896). After several years in private business, he held several federal appointments, including minister resident to Turkey (1880–81).
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.