Research Paper: First Draft
James Longstreet is one of the most talked about figures in the American Civil War. As Robert E. Lee’s right hand man he fought at Second Bull Run, Fredericksburg, Chickamauga, Seven Days Battles, Antietam, Battle of the Wilderness, and the most controversial at Gettysburg. Often referred to as Lee’s “old war horse”, Longstreet played a major role in the outcome of the Civil War. Longstreet is blamed for the Confederate loss of the Civil War primarily because of his performance at Gettysburg and his role during reconstruction as well as his friendship with Ulysses S. Grant. After the first day of fighting at Gettysburg Longstreet did not want to reengage and warned Lee of the consequences. One of Longstreet’s subordinates, George Pickett, lead one of the most famous military actions in American history called Pickett’s charge. During the charge on the third day of fighting Pickett’s division was completely wiped out causing the South to lose at Gettysburg and become the turning point the North needed to win the war. Lee was such a god like figure, that if you argued with him it was like arguing with the South’s god. Also because Pickett was under Longstreet, Longstreet is blamed for the loss at Gettysburg. Even though you could argue that Longstreet orchestrated the attack at Gettysburg you must know that all Longstreet was doing was following orders given to him by Lee. I believe that Longstreet is not to blame for the Confederate loss of the American Civil War because everything he did during and after the Civil War was to help the Confederacy, he always followed Lee’s orders, and his reputation was tarnished by the Lee cult.
James Longstreet was always loyal to the Confederacy and no matter what, even after the war, was loyal. Longstreet was a graduate of West Point in 1842 and became friends with men such as George Pickett and a year later his best friend, Ulysses S. Grant.(Wikipedia). He served with them in the Mexican-American War and even became Ulysses S. Grant best-man and in-law. Once the Civil War broke out he left his stable pension and rank for the Confederacy. Longstreet eventually rose to the rank of Lieutenant General and had authority over one of the most famous Confederate generals, ‘Stonewall’ Jackson. Longstreet lived in the South all of his life even during the attacks by the Lost Cause or “Lee Cult”. As Lee’s right hand man Longstreet was respected by everyone including Lee and helped win many major battles such as Fredericksburg. He was also wounded in the neck by friendly fire and made a quick recovery so he could get back on to the battlefield to lead his troops. Longstreet did not approve of Gettysburg because he did not want to order a mass killing of his own men. Many people do not understand that because Pickett was one of Longstreet’s subordinates that they were basically his own troops. Much damage was done to Longstreet’s reputation after the war because of multiple reasons. One reason was the fact that Andrew Johnson, who the southerners liked, had told him that he, Robert E. Lee, and Jefferson Davis could never get citizenship again. Then after Johnson’s term Ulysses S. Grant became president. Grant and Longstreet were family and because of that he got citizenship and the two most loved Confederates did not. This angered the southerners especially with all of the events going on during Reconstruction, the time after the Civil war where the South was getting politically and physically getting rebuilt. Many punishments were handed out to the South because of the Radical Republican Congress causing almost all southerners to despise Republicans. With Grant being President and being Republican, Longstreet became the only Confederate officer to join the Republicans. This enraged the South causing the southern media to label him as a scalawag. Longstreet was only doing this to help them during Reconstruction. The ill-informed public got their information from...
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