previous next

‘ [78] was directed to move early. Not long after sunrise I moved forward, and before 8 A. M. the head of my division reached Seminary Ridge, where General Lee was in person.’ But I propose to put General Longstreet himself in evidence to contradict the statement just now quoted from his book. I have now in my possession an autograph letter from him, written from New Orleans on the 20th April, 1875, in which he wrote: ‘It occurs to me that if General Lee had any such idea as an attack at sunrise you must surely be advised of it. Right sure am I that such an order was never delivered to me, and it is not possible for me to believe that he ever entertained an idea that I was to attack at that hour. My two divisions, nor myself, did not reach General Lee until 8 A. M. on the 2nd, and if he had intended to attack at sunrise he surely would have expressed some surprise or made some allusion to his orders.’ The point here made by General Longstreet, is that he had received no order to attack at sunrise; nor had he such orders; but, as the matter is now presented, the defence is purely technical. He had been made to know full well the importance to General Lee for the presence of his troops at the front, and he failed to meet the occasion and have his command available for the very co-operation with General Ewell by an early attack by our right, of which he wrote in his letter of May 31, 1875.

In other words, had he placed his troops at General Lee's disposal at the proper time, it was unquestionably the purpose of the latter to have ordered an attack at sunrise or soon thereafter. His troops not being in position, of course the attack could not be made. The two statements made by General Longstreet as to the time that he reported with his divisions, cannot be reconciled. In 1875 when he wrote the letter from which I have quoted, he claims that neither he, nor his divisions reached General Lee until 8 o'clock A. M. In his book, published twenty years later, he claims that he reported at General Lee's headquarters before day, ‘the stars were shining brightly, and that his two divisions reached the front at sunrise,’ say at 4:35 A. M. The preponderance of contemporaneous evidences goes to prove that General Longstreet accurately described the facts in his letter of April, 1875; the ‘star-light’ scene, with which chapter XXVII of his book opens is too finely drawn for ‘Old Pete,’ (rather early you know), and its accuracy is not visible to the naked eye.

The war record of General Longstreet was a brilliant one. That he should have made mistakes was but natural and inevitable; but

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
Seminary Ridge (Pennsylvania, United States) (1)

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
R. E. Lee (7)
Longstreet (5)
Richard Ewell (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
May 31st, 1875 AD (1)
April 20th, 1875 AD (1)
April, 1875 AD (1)
1875 AD (1)
2nd (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: