James Longstreet

Name: James Longstreet
State Served: Georgia
Highest Rank: Lieut-Gen
Birth Date: 1821
Death Date: 1904
Birth Place: Edgefield District, South Carolina
Army: Confederacy

Promotions: Promoted to Full Lt Colonel
Promoted to Full Brig-Gen
Promoted to Full Major-Gen
Promoted to Full Lt-Gen

Lieutenant-General James Longstreet was born in Edgefield district, South Carolina, January 8, 1821, the son of James Longstreet, a native of New Jersey. His maternal grandfather, Marshall Dent, was a first cousin of Chief Justice John Marshall. His grandfather, William Longstreet, was the first to apply steam as a motive power, in 1787, to a small boat on the Savannah river at Augusta.

General Longstreet was reared to the age of twelve years at Augusta, Ga., whence after the death of his father he accompanied his mother to North Alabama. From that State he was appointed to the United States military academy in 1838. He was graduated in 1842, and with the brevet of second-lieutenant went on duty at Jefferson Barracks, Mo., with the Fourth infantry.

The command was joined next year by Lieutenant U. S. Grant, whom Longstreet introduced to his cousin, Miss Julia Dent, subsequently the wife of the Federal general. In 1844 Longstreet joined the army in Louisiana under General Taylor, and in 1845, promoted lieutenant of the Eighth regiment, was at St. Augustine, Fla., until he was ordered to Taylor's army in Texas.

He participated in the battles of Palo Alto, Resaca de la Palma, Monterey, Vera Cruz, Cerro Gordo, San Antonio, Churubusco, and Molino del Rey, winning the brevets of captain and major. At Chapultepec he was severely wounded. He was promoted captain in 1852, and in 1858 major and paymaster, and stationed at Albuquerque, N. M. Resigning this office he reported at Richmond June 29, 1861, and asked an appointment in the pay department, having resigned "aspirations for military glory." But he received a commission as brigadier-general July 1st, and was ordered to report to Beauregard at Manassas, where, in command of the First, Eleventh and Seventeenth Virginia regiments, he repulsed the Federal attack at Blackburn's Ford, July 18th, and during the battle of July 21st threatened the Federal rear.

On October 17th he was promoted to major-general, and with this rank he commanded a division of the army under Joseph E. Johnston, and at the battle of Williamsburg was in immediate command of the field, manifesting here those sturdy qualities which gave him to such a great degree the confidence of his men, and won their admiration. He commanded the right wing of the army before Richmond during the two days' battle of Seven Pines, and was in command of his own and A. P. Hill's division, under Robert E. Lee, in the successful battles of Gaines' Mill and Frayser's Farm, and was preparing to make a flank movement against the Federals at Malvern Hill when the series of battles ended by the safe retreat of McClellan to the James. After following the retreating enemy to Harrison's landing, he there entered upon his command of the First corps of the army of Northern Virginia, Stonewall Jackson leading the Second.

Jackson marched at once to confront Pope in northern Virginia, and Longstreet soon followed. While Jackson flanked the enemy from their strong position on the Rappahannock he engaged them at various points on the river, and finally forcing the passage of Thoroughfare Gap, participated in the crushing defeat of Pope's army. In the Maryland campaign he moved his division from Frederick to Hagerstown, with part of his command holding the South Mountain passes, while Jackson captured Harper's Ferry, and at Sharpsburg he won additional renown for stubborn and heroic fighting.

October 9, 1862, he was promoted to lieutenant-general. At Fredericksburg the fighting of the left wing, including the heroic defense of Marye's Hill, was under his supervision. In the spring of 1863 he operated with part of his corps at Suffolk, Va., but rejoined Lee at Fredericksburg after the battle of Chancellorsville and the mortal wounding of Jackson.

It was decided at this crisis to make a diversion by a campaign in Pennsylvania, and in accordance with the general plan Longstreet moved his command to Chambersburg, Pa., and thence to Gettysburg, reaching the field in person on the afternoon of the first day of the battle. General Lee having been successful thus far, decided to continue the fight on the Federal front.

Longstreet's troops, having arrived, participated in the second day's battle, and on the third day, under orders from Lee, Pickett's division, reinforced by Pettigrew and Trimble, made the memorable charge against the Federal position on Cemetery Hill. After the Confederate army had retired to Virginia, Longstreet, with Hood and McLaws' divisions, was sent to reinforce Bragg in north Georgia, and as commander of the left wing at Chickamauga he crushed the Federal right, becoming, as D. H. Hill wrote, "The organizer of victory on the Confederate side, as Thomas was the savior of the army on the other side."

After Rosecrans was shut up in Chattanooga Longstreet was detached for the capture of Knoxville. Marching to that point in November, on heavy roads, he had begun assaults upon the works when apprised of the defeat of Bragg at Chattanooga. Rejoining the army of Northern Virginia before the fighting began in the Wilderness, on May 6 he reached the field opportunely and led his men in a successful assault which promised the defeat of Grant's army, when in the confusion a Confederate volley seriously wounded him and killed his favorite brigade commander, the gallant General Jenkins.

During the greater part of the siege at Richmond and Petersburg he commanded on the north side of the James, and on the movement to Appomattox he commanded the advance and the main portion of the army. After hostilities closed he was told by President Johnson that he was one of three, the others being Mr. Davis and General Lee, who could never receive amnesty.

It was subsequently bestowed, however, and he engaged in business at New Orleans. During Grant's presidency he was appointed surveyor of the port of that city, and afterward supervisor of internal revenue and postmaster. In 1880 he was appointed United States minister to Turkey, and under President Garfield he was United States marshal for the district of Georgia, in which State he has made his residence of recent years, at the town of Gainesville. In October, 1897, he was appointed United States railroad commissioner to succeed General Wade Hampton resigned.

Source: Confederate Military History, vol. 1, p. 660