James Longstreet — Facts and APUSH Notes

January 8, 1821–January 2, 1904

APUSH Definition — James Longstreet (1821–1904) was an officer in the Confederate Army during the Civil War. He was one of Robert E. Lee’s most-trusted officers, and he played a significant role in Confederate operations in the Eastern and Western Theaters. Following the war, supporters of the “Lost Cause” blamed him for the Confederate defeat at Gettysburg.

James Longstreet, Portrait, Confederate General

Lieutenant General James Longstreet was one of Robert E. Lee’s most trusted subordinates. Image Source: Wikipedia.

Who was Civil War officer James Longstreet?

When the Civil War erupted, James Longstreet was serving as a paymaster for the United States Army in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He resigned his commission on June 1, 1861, and returned to Alabama where he offered his services to the Confederacy. He received a commission as a brigadier general in the Confederate Army on June 25, 1861 (dating to June 17). On October 7, 1861, Confederate officials promoted Longstreet to major general, and he assumed command of a division of the Army of Northern Virginia.

Longstreet fought through most of the major campaigns in the Easter Theater of the Civil War. He also commanded troops during the Chickamauga Campaign, Chattanooga Campaign, and the Knoxville Campaign in the West. In 1864, Longstreet rejoined the Army of Northern Virginia. On May 6, 1864, during the Battle of the Wilderness, Longstreet received severe wounds in the neck and right shoulder from friendly fire, only a few miles from where Stonewall Jackson suffered the same fate a year earlier. Unlike Jackson, Longstreet survived his wounds and returned to action in time to take part in the Appomattox Campaign. Longstreet was present when Robert E. Lee surrendered to Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House, Virginia, on April 9, 1865. 

After the Civil War, Longstreet first settled in New Orleans, Louisiana, where he co-owned Longstreet, Owen & Company, a cotton brokerage firm. He also served as president of an insurance company.

In 1867, Longstreet authored two published letters supporting Negro suffrage and acceptance of Federal Reconstruction laws, which earned him the enmity of many Southerners. In 1868, he joined the Republican Party and supported his old friend Ulysses S. Grant for the presidency, alienating him even further from the Southern majority.

In 1870, Longstreet secured an appointment as Adjutant General of the State of Louisiana. Two years later, he received a commission as a brigadier general in the Louisiana State Militia. On September 14, 1874, white supremacists attempted to overthrow the government of Louisiana. Longstreet’s reputation in the South suffered among whites when he led African-American militia against the anti-Reconstruction White League at the Battle of Liberty.

Longstreet moved from New Orleans to Gainesville, Georgia, in 1875, where he purchased the Piedmont Hotel and a farm outside town. In 1877, he converted to Catholicism. From 1878 to 1879, Longstreet served first as deputy collector of internal revenue in Georgia, and later as the postmaster of Gainesville.

In 1880, ex-President Grant used his influence to have President Rutherford B. Hayes appoint Longstreet as ambassador to the Ottoman Empire. In 1881, Longstreet secured a federal appointment as U.S. Marshal for Georgia. He held that position until 1884 when charges of corruption involving deputies led to his removal.

Longstreet spent the last years of his life defending his military reputation and attending Civil War reunions where he was warmly received despite criticism from Confederate “Lost Cause” advocates. He died from pneumonia on January 2, 1904, in Gainesville, Georgia, and was buried at Alta Vista Cemetery, in Gainesville.

Battle of Gettysburg, Pickett's Charge
Battle of Gettysburg, Pickett’s Charge. Image Source: Library of Congress.

James Longstreet Facts for APUSH

Birth and Early Life

  • Full Name: His full name was James Longstreet.
  • Parents: His parents were James Longstreet and Mary Ann Dent.
  • Date of Birth: He was born on January 8, 1821.
  • Birthplace: He was born in Edgefield District, South Carolina.

Family Tree

  • Spouse: Maria Louisa Garland (1848), Helen Dortch, (1897).

Death

  • Death: He died on January 2, 1904.
  • Place of Death: He died in Gainesville, Georgia.
  • Burial: He is buried at Alta Vista Cemetery, Gainesville, Georgia.

Education

He attended the United States Military Academy and graduated in 1842.

Career

He worked as a Military officer, and public official.

Career Summary

He was a Major (USA), and Lieutenant General (CSA).

Nicknames

He was known as “Pete,” and “Old War Horse.”

James Longstreet — Summary of His Life and Accomplishments APUSH

  • James Longstreet was born in Edgefield District, South Carolina, on January 8, 1821, while his mother was visiting his mother-in-law.
  • James Longstreet was the fifth child and third son of James and Mary Ann Dent Longstreet.
  • James Longstreet’s parents owned a cotton plantation in northeast Georgia.
  • James Longstreet’s father gave him the nickname, “Pete,” when he was a boy.
  • James Longstreet spent eight years of his youth living with his uncle’s family in Augusta, Georgia.
  • James Longstreet attended the prestigious Richmond County Academy in Georgia.
  • James Longstreet attended the United States Military Academy and graduated in 1842, ranking 54th out of 56 cadets in his class.
  • James Longstreet was brevetted as a second lieutenant assigned to the 4th U.S. Infantry on July 1, 1842.
  • James Longstreet served with the 8th U.S. Infantry in the Mexican-American War (1846 – 1848).
  • James Longstreet was promoted to first lieutenant on February 23, 1847.
  • James Longstreet was wounded in the thigh at the Battle of Chapultepec on September 13, 1847.
  • James Longstreet was brevetted to captain and major during the Mexican-American War (1846 – 1848).
  • James Longstreet introduced his friend Ulysses S. Grant to his cousin, Julia Dent, and later attended Grant and Dent’s wedding.
  • James Longstreet married Maria Louisa Garland on March 8, 1848.
  • James Longstreet served mainly in the West during the 1850s.
  • James Longstreet was promoted to captain on December 7, 1852.
  • James Longstreet was promoted to major on July 19, 1858.
  • James Longstreet resigned his commission in the United States Army on June 1, 1861, and joined the Confederate Army as a lieutenant colonel commanding infantry.
  • James Longstreet was appointed as a brigadier general, in the Confederate Army on June 25, 1861 (dating to June 17).
  • James Longstreet was a brigade commander of the Confederate Army of the Potomac during the First Battle of Bull Run (July 21, 1861).
  • James Longstreet was promoted to major general, in the Confederate Army on October 7, 1861, and assumed command of a division of the Army of Northern Virginia.
  • James Longstreet served under General Joseph Johnston and then Robert E. Lee during the Peninsula Campaign in the spring of 1862.
  • James Longstreet has been criticized for his delay in attacking the Union army at the Second Battle of Bull Run on August 29, 1862, despite direct orders from Robert E. Lee to do so.
  • James Longstreet’s 1st Corps delivered a crushing flank attack at the Second Battle of Bull Run (August 28–30, 1862).
  • James Longstreet’s troops held their part of the Confederate defensive line in the face of a much larger Union force at the Battle of Antietam (September 17, 1862).
  • James Longstreet was promoted to lieutenant general on October 9, 1862.
  • Robert E. Lee gave James Longstreet command of the Army of Northern Virginia’s 1st Corps on November 6, 1862.
  • James Longstreet’s 1st Corps repulsed Union assaults against the heights of Fredericksburg, during the Battle of Fredericksburg (December 11–15, 1862).
  • In the spring of 1863, Robert E. Lee detached James Longstreet from the Army of Northern Virginia and sent him along with two divisions to protect threatened ports in the Carolinas, causing Longstreet to miss the Battle of Chancellorsville (April 30 – May 6, 1863).
  • As second in command at the Battle of Gettysburg, James Longstreet opposed Robert E. Lee’s decision to attack, instead favoring a strategy of maneuvering the Union Army out of its position.
  • On September 5, 1863, James Longstreet led a large detachment from the Army of Northern Virginia west to reinforce Braxton Bragg’s Army of Tennessee at the Battle of Chickamauga (September 19–20, 1863), leading to one of the greatest confederate victories of the Civil War.
  • Braxton Bragg’s failure to support James Longstreet’s rout of the Union army at the Battle of Chickamauga (September 19–20, 1863), caused a rift between the two Confederate generals.
  • James Longstreet’s detached command failed to defeat Union General Ambrose Burnside’s army or capture the city of Knoxville, Tennessee during the fall of 1863.
  • On May 6, 1864, during the Battle of the Wilderness, James Longstreet was severely wounded in the neck and right shoulder by friendly fire, only a few miles from where Stonewall Jackson suffered the same fate a year earlier.
  • James Longstreet was wounded by friendly fire only a few miles from where Stonewall Jackson was shot by friendly fire.
  • James Longstreet was present when Robert E. Lee surrendered to Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865.
  • After the Civil War, James Longstreet first settled in New Orleans, Louisiana where he co-owned the Longstreet, Owen & Company, a cotton brokerage firm, and served as president of the Great Southern and Western Fire, Marine and Accident Insurance Company.
  • In 1867, James Longstreet wrote two published letters supporting Negro suffrage and acceptance of Federal Reconstruction laws.
  • The United States Congress restored James Longstreet’s rights of citizenship in June 1868.
  • After the Civil War, James Longstreet joined the Republican Party and endorsed Ulysses S. Grant for president in 1868.
  • James Longstreet was appointed Adjutant General of the State of Louisiana.
  • James Longstreet was commissioned as a brigadier general in the Louisiana State Militia in 1872, which put him in control of the state’s militia and police force in New Orleans.
  • As head of the Louisiana State Militia and police force in New Orleans, James Longstreet was shot and held prisoner by white supremacists in New Orleans during the Battle of Liberty Place, an attempt to overthrow the government of Louisiana on September 14, 1874
  • James Longstreet moved from New Orleans to Gainesville, Georgia in 1875 where he purchased the Piedmont Hotel, as well as a farm outside town.
  • James Longstreet converted to Catholicism in 1877.
  • James Longstreet served as deputy collector of internal revenue in Georgia from 1878 to 1879.
  • James Longstreet was appointed as postmaster of Gainesville, Georgia in 1879.
  • In 1880, ex-President Grant used his influence to have President Hayes appoint James Longstreet as ambassador to the Ottoman Empire.
  • James Longstreet served as U.S. Marshal for Georgia from 1881 until 1884 when charges of corruption involving deputies led to his removal.
  • James Longstreet’s wife of forty-one years, Maria Louisa Garland Longstreet, died on December 29, 1889.
  • James Longstreet published his memoirs, From Manassas to Appomattox, in 1896.
  • At seventy-six years of age, James Longstreet married his second wife, thirty-four-year-old Helen Dortch, on September 8, 1897.
  • James Longstreet died from pneumonia on January 2, 1904, at Gainesville, Georgia.
  • James Longstreet was buried at Alta Vista Cemetery, in Gainesville on January 6, 1904.
  • After the Civil War, proponents of the Lost Cause theory made James Longstreet a scapegoat for the Confederate defeat at the Battle of Gettysburg.
  • Robert E. Lee referred to James Longstreet as his “Old War-Horse.”

Learn More About General James Longstreet

Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations, including APA Style, Chicago Style, and MLA Style.

  • Article Title James Longstreet — Facts and APUSH Notes
  • Date January 8, 1821–January 2, 1904
  • Author
  • Website Name American History Central
  • Access Date April 20, 2024
  • Publisher R.Squared Communications, LLC
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update January 12, 2024

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