Why was General Longstreet sent to the Western Theater?
James Longstreet was born without a middle name on January the 8th 1821 in Edgefield South Carolina.1 He was raised in Georgia and Alabama. In 1842 Longstreet graduated fifty-fourth in his class out fifty-six from the United States Military Academy at West Point in the same class as Hiram Ulysses Grant or as we know him Ulysses S. Grant.2 In 1847 Longstreet served bravely during the Mexican-American War under Maj. Gen. Winfield Scott. During the war “Longstreet received a promotion to brevet captain for his actions during the Battle of Churubusco.” He was later wounded in the right thigh while leading a “charge on Chapultepec, the Mexican military academy and the key to the capital.”3 After the war he remained in service and married Maria Louisa Garland and together they had ten children.
At the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861, Longstreet resigned his commission and entered Confederate service as a Brigadier General. Throughout the early years of the Civil War, Longstreet served heroically for the Confederate State of America and achieved the rank of Lt. General and became a key subordinate to General Robert E. Lee. While serving under General Robert E. Lee, Longstreet developed a lifelong friendship with him. Longstreet’s service in the Army of Northern Virginia began with in appointment to Brigadier General on June 17 1861 by Jefferson Davis at Richmond Virginia, the Confederate capital, which he then accepted on the 25th of June.4
1 James Longstreet (1821-1904) http://encyclopediavirginia.org, Internet Accessed 2-19-2012.
2 Mendoza, Alexander. Confederate Struggle for Command: General James Longstreet and the First Corps in the West. United States of America: (Texas A&M University Press, 2008), 2.
3 Mendoza, 4.
4 Jeffry D. Wert, General James Longstreet: The Confederacy’s Most Controversial Soldier, (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1994), 58.
The following month, the 6th of July he assumed command of three Virginia Regiment’s, the 1st, 11th, and the 17th. The 1st Virginia, being the oldest militia unit in the state being organized in 1851, now with his new command Longstreet and his men would set out to train and prepare for a long anticipated battle with Union forces. On July the 16th Longstreet was informed through scouts that the Union Army was advancing from Washington.5 Longstreet and his men moved to Manassas to prepare for a general engagement with Union forces, Longstreet and his men were placed on the north bank at a place called Blackburn’s Ford to defend against Richardson’s 12th New York. On the 18th Longstreet and his men repulsed several advances by Richardson’s brigade. Longstreet received praise from his men and General Beauregard for “the prestige of success.” 6 Longstreet proved to be able to command men in combat and follow orders that helped lead to a Confederate Victory at Manassas.
In the months following Manassas things were quit for the Army of Northern Virginia and Longstreet had received his first promotion to Major General and was assigned command of the Third Division of Beauregard’s corps of the Army of the Potomac. Longstreet’s had even been requested to be second in command by Beauregard but was denied approval by the war department, but Longstreet’s promotion was still greatly favored by General Joseph E. Johnston who was Beauregard’s superior commander. Longstreet had found great favor with his men and his superiors alike and was rising to the new challenges that he faced with an aggressive attitude that would prove to keep him in favor and make him will liked by most that he would serve
6 William Garrett Piston, Lee’s Tarnished Lieutenant: James Longstreet and his place in Southern History (Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 1987), 13. with . During the summer and fall months Longstreet