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Books > Biographies & Memoirs > Historical > United States > 0820312290
  1. Lee's Tarnished Lieutenant: James Longstreet and His Place in Southern History (Brown Thrasher Books Ser.)
    Lee's Tarnished Lieutenant: James Longstreet and His Place in Southern History (Brown Thrasher Books Ser.)
    Lee's Tarnished Lieutenant: James Longstreet and His Place in Southern History (Brown Thrasher Books Ser.)
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  2. Lee's Tarnished Lieutenant: James Longstreet and His Place in Southern History (Brown Thrasher Books Ser.)

    Delivery: 10-20 Working Days
    Customer Ratings (23 reviews)
    Price R353.00

Additional Information

In the South, one can find any number of bronze monuments to the Confederacy featuring heroic images of Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, J. E. B. Stuart, and many lesser commanders. But while the tarnish on such statues has done nothing to color the reputation of those great leaders, there remains one Confederate commander whose tarnished image has nothing to do with bronze monuments. Nowhere in the South does a memorial stand to Lee's intimate friend and second-in-command James Longstreet.

In Lee's Tarnished Lieutenant, William Garrett Piston examines the life of James Longstreet and explains how a man so revered during the course of the war could fall from grace so swiftly and completely. Unlike other generals in gray whose deeds are familiar to southerners and northerners alike, Longstreet has the image not of a hero but of an incompetent who lost the Battle of Gettysburg and, by extension, the war itself. Piston's reappraisal of the general's military record establishes Longstreet as an energetic corps commander with an unsurpassed ability to direct troops in combat, as a trustworthy subordinate willing to place the war effort above personal ambition. He made mistakes, but Piston shows that he did not commit the grave errors at Gettysburg and elsewhere of which he was so often accused after the war.

In discussing Longstreet's postwar fate, Piston analyzes the literature and public events of the time to show how the southern people, in reaction to defeat, evolved an image of themselves which bore little resemblance to reality. As a product of the Georgia backwoods, Longstreet failed to meet the popular cavalier image embodied by Lee, Stuart, and other Confederate heroes. When he joined the Republican party during Reconstruction, Longstreet forfeited his wartime reputation and quickly became a convenient target for those anxious to explain how a "superior people" could have lost the war. His new role as the villain of the Lost Cause was solidified by his own postwar writings. Embittered by years of social ostracism resulting from his Republican affiliation, resentful of the orchestrated deification of Lee and Stonewall Jackson, Longstreet exaggerated his own accomplishments and displayed a vanity that further alienated an already offended southern populace.

Beneath the layers of invective and vilification remains a general whose military record has been badly maligned. Lee's Tarnished Lieutenant explains how this reputation developed―how James Longstreet became, in the years after Appomattox, the scapegoat for the South's defeat, a Judas for the new religion of the Lost Cause.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

William Piston has written a fine, highly readable, and fair-minded but sympathetic biography of one of the most controversial leaders of the Civil War. While Lee himself held Longstreet in the highest regard and made the dependable Longstreet his senior subordinate and commander of his First Corps in the Army of Northern Virginia, the stubborn South Carolinian found his reputation tarnished after the war by jealous military rivals who disliked Longstreet's politics and resented his criticisms of some of Lee's command decisions.
As a military biography, this work offers a fairly comprehensive and balanced treatment of Longstreet's career that effectively demolishes some of the more unfair criticisms of Longstreet as a commander, and in particular takes apart the myth (that emerged in post-war controversy) that Jackson, not Longstreet, had been the senior commander in whom Lee had placed his most reliance and trust (although for a more critical, but still balanced and highly... Read more
Piston's book is the first modern account of the first soldier of the Confederacy. Controversial both during and after the war, James Longstreet is one of the most fascinating and forgotten figures in American history. Second in command of the Army of Northern Virginia, Longstreet was the only senior officer who was with that army from the first battle at Manassas to the surrender at Appomattox. He was in command of the most famous attack in American history, Pickett's Charge. His most notable victories included Second Manassas, Fredericksburg, Chickamauga, and the Wilderness. After the war, he did several things considered unpardonable sins by most Southerners, some of whom still cannot forgive him to this day. First, he dared to criticize Robert E. Lee and his conduct of the battle of Gettysburg. Second, he reconciled with his conquerors, became a Republican, and accepted appointive federal offices from four out of the next six presidents of the United States, including President... Read more
Generally, historians write battle engagements of Longstreet as slow-moving, and his preference to defensive strategy. This is particularly alleged for his part at Gettysburg but visiously-so by a few of Longstreet's contemporaries after Lee, who never publicly made such charges, had died. So, the author challenges the reader to consider the effects of politics that followed the war and resulted in Longstreet's "tarnishment." This book prompted me to read "Lee and Longstreet at High Tide" by Helen Longstreet, his second wife. With an obvious love-interest in preserving his reputation, she nevertheless makes very convincing and record-based arguments that basically support this book. I recommend her's as follow-up reading to this.
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