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General Longstreet

The Illustrated London News, vol. 44, no. 1263, p. 573.

June 11, 1864


In the last Number of the Illustrated London News was engraved a portrait of General Lee, the Commander-in-Chief, and we now give that of another distinguished General in the army of the Southern Confederacy, who is perhaps, since the death of Stonewall Jackson, second only to Lee in the military reputation he has achieved by the campaigns between Washington and Richmond during the last three years. General James Longstreet, who is a native of Alabama, was regularly educated for the profession of arms. He entered the United States army in 1838. He was attached first to the 4th and then to the 8th infantry regiments. He served in all the battles of the Mexican war, and, like General Lee, was wounded at Chapultepec. He was twice breveted for distinguished services in that war. In 1858 he obtained a post in the Paymaster's department, to which he belonged, with the rank of Major. When the civil war broke out, in 1861, he at once joined the army of the Confederate States. The brigade which he commanded at the fight of Bull Run, in July of that year, was one of the first bodies of Southern troops that came into actual collision with the Federals; and in the sanguinary battle of Manassas, which soon afterwards ensued, General Longstreet led the main attack, though General Beauregard was in chief command. As a General of Division, Longstreet acted under General Lee throughout the Virginia campaigns of 1862 and 1863. A British officer, Lieutenant-Colonel Freemantle, of the Coldstream Guards, who has written a very readable book relating his experience in the Southern States during three months of last year, saw much of General Longstreet, and speaks of him with praise. He describes the General as "a thickset, determined-looking man, forty-three years of age, who is invariably spoken of by the soldiers as the best fighter in the whole army. He is never far from General Lee, who relies very much upon his judgment. The relations between Lee and Longstreet are quite touching--they are always together. Longstreet's corps complain of this sometimes, as they say that they seldom get a chance of detached service, which falls to the lot of Ewell. I believe these two Generals to be as little ambitious and as thoroughly unselfish as any men in the world. Both long for a successful termination of the war, in order that they may retire into obscurity." In another part of the volume Colonel Freemantle tells us how many of the soldiers would run on a hundred yards during a long march to get one good look at Longstreet when he had ridden on in front of them. Some of them would call out to their comrades, as Longstreet passed, "Look out for work, boys, for here's the old bulldog again." It is generally regretted, however, that Longstreet will expose himself to danger in too reckless a manner. At Gettysburg, "he led a Georgian regiment in a charge against a battery, hat in hand, and in front of everybody." A few hours later, Colonel Freemantle found him seated on the top of a snake fence at the edge of the wood, and looking perfectly calm and unperturbed, while some of his troops passed by. The gallant Colonel, who scarcely knew what had been the result of the battle, observed to General Longstreet, "I wouldn't have missed this for anything." Longstreet replied, laughing, "The devil you wouldn't! I should liked to have missed it, very much; we've attacked, and been repulsed; look there!" Usually, says Colonel Freemantle, he is a particularly taciturn man. In a grave consultation with General Lee and two others, Longstreet was noticed "assisting his deliberations by the truly American custom of whittling a stick." He can be sarcastic. Thus, when General Pettigrew came up to him and reported that he was "unable to bring up his men again," Longstreet replied, "Very well, General; then, never mind. Just let them remain where they are; the enemy is going to advance and will save you the trouble." "Difficulties," says the English Colonel, "make no other impression upon Longstreet than to make him more savage--like a bulldog, as the soldiers call him. His physical endurance is most extraordinary; he seems to require neither food nor sleep." Two days after the battle of Gettysburg he was highly amused with a message brought to General Lee by the bearer of a flag of truce from the enemy, who announced that "General Longstreet had been made prisoner and was wounded, but would be taken care of." General Longstreet sent back word to the Federals that he was "extremely grateful, but quite able to take care of himself." General Longstreet is in all respects a worthy second to General Lee.

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