Longstreet (James) Papers, 1862-1863
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Administrative Information

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Copyright: The copyright of these letters is held by Navarro College Archives, Navarro College, 3200 W. 7th Ave., Corsicana, Texas. Internet: archives@navarrocollege.edu.

Cite As:Longstreet (James) Papers, 1862-1863, Pearce Civil War Collection, Navarro College, Corsicana, Texas

Forms Part of: Pearce Civil War Collection

Location: 1-S10

Transcription(s): Yes

Scanned Copies on File: Yes

Accession Number: 1995.011; 1996-011

Processed by: Julie Holcomb, February 2001

Reproductions of original materials and transcriptions may be available. Please contact the archivist for further information.

Abstract: Two letters (1862-1863) document the military career of Confederate General James Longstreet. He writes to General Louis Trezevant Wigfall and to Major General Arnold Elzey.

Biographical/Historical Sketch

Born in South Carolina, James Longstreet (1821-1904) entered West Point from Alabama, graduated commission on June 1, 1861 and joined the Confederacy. Commanding a brigade he fought at Blackburn’s Ford and 1st 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. By now promoted to be the Confederacy’s senior lieutenant general, he led an independent expedition into southeastern Virginia where he displayed a lack of ability on his own. Rejoining Lee, he opposed attacking at Gettysburg in favor of maneuvering Meade out of his position. Longstreet, who had come to believe in the strategic offense and the tactical defense, was proven right when the Confederate attacks on the second and third days were repulsed. Detached to reinforce Bragg in Georgia, he commanded a wing of the army on the second day at Chickamauga. In the dispute over the follow-up victory he was critical of Bragg and was soon detached to operate in East Tennessee. Here again he showed an incapacity for independent operations, especially in the siege of Knoxville. Rejoining Lee at the Wilderness, he was severely wounded, in the confusion, by Confederate troops. He resumed command in October during the Petersburg operations and commanded on the north side of the James. Lee’s “Old War Horse” remained with his chief through the surrender at Appomattox. After the war he befriended Ulysses S. Grant and became a Republican. He served as Grant’s minister to Turkey and as a railroad commissioner. Criticized by many former Confederates, he struck back with his book, From Manassas to Appomattox. He outlived most of his high-ranking postwar detractors. (Source: Sifakis, Stewart, Who Was Who in the Civil War.)in 1842, and was wounded at Chapultepec in Mexico. He resigned his

Scope and Content Note

Two letters (1862-1863; 4 pages) document the military career of James Longstreet. The first letter (October 9,1862; 2 pages) was written to General Louis Trezevant Wigfall of Texas. The letter, written to inform Wigfall of the safe arrival of his son, also documents the reluctance of Union forces to cross the Potomac in pursuit of Lee’s forces: “He is still on the otherside of the Potomac and has shown no particular desire to cross. His forces are said to have increased greatly thought most if not all of his re-enforcements must be fresh.” The second letter (April 7, 1863; 2 pages) is written to Major General Arnold Elzey and asks him to advise General Henry Alexander Wise to “not pass Yorktown any considerable distance with his entire force unless he finds that he will be doing so to draw out the Force at Yorktown.” The letter also notes: “The enemy likes to be deceived, or rather to have good excuses for reverses. People who play tricks are always the easiest tricked.” At the bottom of the letter, Elzey has written a brief note to Wise: “Brig. Genl. Wise, I send this note from Lt. Genl. Longstreet by which you will please be governed.”

The copyright of these materials is managed by the Navarro College Archives on behalf of the Navarro College Foundation, 3100 W. Collin St., Corsicana, Texas 75110. Phone: 903-875-7438. Internet: archives@navarrocollege.edu.