Monday, September 04, 2006

A Good Word for Longstreet

During the last few weeks, while listening to some of Dr. Gary Gallagher's recorded lectures, I was reminded of a few quotes concerning Confederate Lieutenant General James Longstreet, Lee's Old Warhorse.

Both address only a small fraction of the events during Day Three of the Battle of Gettysburg. The first describes General Longstreet's behavior during the massive cannonade early afternoon on July 3, 1863.

"Longstreet rode slowly and alone immediately in front of our entire line. He sat his large charger with a magnificent grace and composure I never before beheld. His bearing was to me the grandest moral spectacle of the war. I expected to see him fall every instant. Still he moved on, slowly and majestically, with an inspiring confidence, composure, self-possession and repressed power in every movement and look, that fascinated me."

- Brigadier General James Kemper, Pickett's Division. [1]

The second is somewhat controversial but no less interesting. This appeared in Longstreet's memoirs.

"I was present, however, just after Pickett's repulse, when General Lee so magnanimously took all the blame of the disaster upon himself. Another important circumstance, which I distinctly remember, was in the winter of 1863--64, when you sent me from East Tennessee to Orange Court-House with some dispatches to General Lee. Upon my arrival there, General Lee asked me into his tent, where he was alone, with two or three Northern papers on the table. He remarked that he had just been reading the Northern reports of the battle of Gettysburg; that he had become satisfied from reading those reports that if he had permitted you to carry out your plan, instead of making the attack on Cemetery Hill, he would have been successful."

- Colonel T. J. Goree, Aide to Longstreet, in a post-war letter
   as noted in the General's memoirs. [2]



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[1] The Generals of Gettysburg: The Leaders of America's Greatest Battle. Larry Tagg, DaCapo Press; July 1998

[2] Longstreet at Gettysburg: The Third Day

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