James Longstreet was an exceptional Confederate general whose leadership and battle strategy, his relationship with Lee, and controversial disobedience contributed to his enormous impact in the American Civil War and the battle at Gettysburg.
Longstreet was born January 8, 1821, and was raised in the South ("General James Longstreet" 1). As a young boy he lived with his parents on the family plantation in Georgia. His father nicknamed him Old Pete, a nickname that stuck with him his whole life, after the saint Peter, because they shared a solid, rock-like character. He entered West Point in 1838. Graduating in 1842, he ranked 54th in a class of 56. However, he made many friends that he would fight alongside, and friends he would fight against, such as Ulysses S. Grant, George H. Thomas, John Bell Hood, and George Pickett. After graduating, Longstreet joined the National Army, with whom he fought in the Mexican-American War. He served in the siege of Veracruz, the advance inland, and in the Battle of Chapultepec, where he was wounded. While recovering, he was stationed in Texas where he was paymaster for the 8th Infantry and ran patrols on the frontier. When tensions rose in the 1860s, James Longstreet supported the doctrine of state’s rights, but was not a secessionist. Upon the outbreak of the fighting in the Civil War, He decided to go with the South, as it was his home, and he agreed with the ideals of state’s rights and slavery (Hickman 1).
As a general in the Civil War, James Longstreet had an exceptional sense of battle tactics. Battles in which his logic shown were: Yorktown and Williamsburg, Fredericksburg, and Antietam. At the battle of Yorktown, Longstreet was in command, and made the executive decision to abandon the fight at Yorktown to intercept Union troops marching to Richmond. They reached the Yankees at Williamsburg. Because “Old Pete” made this decision, the Union troops were stopped from going to the Southern capital ("National Park Service" 1). At the Battle of Fredericksburg, he put ended several Union assaults against Marye's Heights. General Longstreet expertly chose the high ground west of the city, and slaughtered the multiple charges. Another battle in which James Longstreet revealed his sense of battle strategy was at Antietam. Longstreet was greatly outnumbered, though he showed great defensive strength and leadership. He told his men not to break their line, and they bravely held a thin southern line against the Union’s advances ("General James Longstreet" 3). In the Battles of Yorktown, Williamsburg, Fredericksburg, and Antietam James Longstreet showed his great knowledge of battle tactics and leadership.
At the Battle of Gettysburg, Longstreet had a great impact with excellent leadership and plans. Though his efforts ultimately did not lead to a Confederate victory, he made a definite difference in the events of the famous battle. At Gettysburg, General James Longstreet had little...