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Lt. General James Longstreet Autographs, Memorabilia & Collectibles

Born: January 8, 1821 in Edgefield County, South Carolina
Died: January 2, 1904 in Gainesville, Georgia
Biography | show moreshow less
General James Longstreet (1821-1904) commanded a corps at 2nd Bull Run, the right wing of Lee's Army at Antietam, a Corps at Gettysburg and the left wing at Chickamauga. Recognized today as one of the Civil War's finest generals - Robert E. Lee called him his "war horse" - Longstreet surrendered with Lee at Appomatox. After the war, he became what other southerners called a "scalawag," a white man who accepted Reconstruction, including equality for blacks, and joined the Republican Party. President Grant appointed him Collector of Customs in New Orleans, and President Hayes named him in 1880 as ambassador to the Ottoman Empire. His postwar politics earned the ire of unreconstructed Confederates, who wrote military histories blaming him for the South's defeat. In the early spring of 1863, Lee detached Longstreet's I Corps, with the divisions of Generals George Pickett and John Bell Hood, from the main army. Longstreet was given two missions: to protect Richmond from a possible Union Army attack up the James River; and to forage or capture needed supplies. (Lee's army was on half rations, and short of clothing and equipment as well.) He was also ordered to stay close to rail lines so that his troops could rush to reinforce Lee's main army in the event of a major Union offensive. Longstreet had no difficulty defending Richmond, which was not seriously attacked, and he was successful in procuring needed supplies. However, he was unable to rejoin Lee's army until after the Battle of Chancellorsville, which was concluding on the very day (May 6) Longstreet wrote the orders offered here. Lee won a spectacular victory at Chancellorsville anyhow, but this did not prevent Longstreet's critics from accusing him of letting General Lee down. Lee himself voiced no criticism of Longstreet, however, and the fatal wounding at Chancellorsville of the other brilliant corps commander, Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson, made Lee even more dependent upon Longstreet, his reliable "war horse".

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