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James Longstreet was one of the foremost Confederate generals of the American Civil War. Before rising to prominence in the Confederate Army, he first saw combat in the Mexican-American War and held various military posts. This topic will explore his early military career, his experiences, and how they shaped his strategies and decisions during the Civil War. You can also find more related free essay samples at PapersOwl about American Civil War topic.
James Longstreet was a government official, a U.S Army officer, and a famous lieutenant general in the Confederate Army during the Civil War. He was one of Robert E. Lee’s most trusted generals and known as “Lee’s War Horse.” James Longstreet was born on January 8, 1821, in Edgefield District, South Carolina to James and Mary Anne Dent Longstreet. He was the son of a prosperous farmer and mostly raised in Augusta, Georgia and Somerville, Alabama. While he was in school, he lived with his famous humorist uncle, Augustus Baldwin Longstreet, for a time.
James Longstreet attended the United States Military Academy at West Point in the years 1838 to 1842 and was in the class that included future Civil War generals, Ulysses S. Grant and George Pickett. Though he was a great general, he was not a very good student and finished 54th in his class of 56 students. After Longstreet graduated from West Point, he got commissioned as a brevet second lieutenant in the 4th U.S Infantry. In his first two years, he was stationed in Jefferson Barracks, Missouri. While there he met his future wife, Maria Louisa “Louise” Garland. Louise was the daughter of a wealthy lieutenant colonel. James and Louise would get married in 1848 and have ten children together; sadly, only five would make it to adulthood.
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Longstreet first fought in the Mexican-American War from 1846 to 1848. He fought in several major battles including Vera Cruz, Monterrey, and Palo Alto. Sadly, Longstreet suffered a significant leg wound and had to spend the next several years in peacetime service. Though he was a Confederate, General Longstreet had reservations about secession. Like Robert E. Lee, once the war broke out, he left the Army and went to serve the South in Alabama. Later he was sent to Richmond, Virginia and was a brigadier general under P.G.T Beauregard. Longstreet commanded his brigade in the Battle of First Bull Run, and later in October of 1861, he was promoted to major general. His first major battle was in the Peninsula Campaign in 1862, when the Confederate Army stopped General George B. McClellan’s march toward Richmond in the Seven Days Battles. Many of Longstreet’s more famous victories came after Robert E. Lee took command.
After Longstreet defeated a Union force twice his size in a defensive stand, he was promoted to the rank lieutenant general. After this battle James Longstreet and Stonewall Jackson became some of the most trusted field commanders in Lee’s Northern Virginian Army’s. Longstreet won many battles using a defensive position by creative use of terrain, constructing fieldworks, and digging trenches. During the war, Lee wanted to invade the North with the Battle of Gettysburg, and this caused Longstreet’s most controversial moments of the war. Longstreet delayed his offensive on the second day of battle for more coordination of his forces; this move allowed Union General George Meade the time to prepare for the attack. On the final day of battle, Longstreet saw the infamous offensive know was “Pickett’s Charge.” This battle resulted in over 50% of casualties and a Confederate defeat.
After this massive loss, Longstreet was able to move the majority of his forces to support the troops of Braxton Bragg. This movement gave Longstreet a crucial victory at the Battle of Chickamauga in late 1863. He then moved to East Tennessee where he unsuccessfully took the city of Knoxville. Longstreet later reunited with Lee’s Army in early 1864. During the Battle of the Wilderness he was accidentally wounded by friendly fire, and despite having his right arm paralyzed he returned to war later that year. In 1865, he surrendered with Robert E. Lee in Appomattox. After the war, Longstreet moved to New Orleans and worked in private businesses.
He supported the Republican Party and supported Union commander Ulysses S. Grant’s run for the presidency in 1868. In his later life, Longstreet was a favorite target of the Lost Cause movement, a crusade that condemned reconstruction efforts and looked to shift the blame of the Confederate defeat off of Robert E. Lee. He would spend his time defending himself from such criticisms and attacks. Longstreet served as the adjutant general of the Louisiana state militia and ordered a group of African-American militia soldiers to end a riot by a white citizens’ group. This order only further hurt his reputation in the South.
Fearing for his and his family’s safety he left New Orleans and went to Georgia in 1875. Following his wife’s death, he worked as a railroad commissioner. He then married Helen Dortch in 1897. She was 40 years younger than him, and Longstreet died seven years later in 1904 at the age of 82. Overall James Longstreet was a courageous and smart man and general. He enjoyed serving the south and fighting for his people. Though he faced adversity later in his life, he came over these problems and continued to serve his country with pride. James Longstreet will always be remembered as a courageous man who never gave up.
The Battle of Franklin-Nashville The Battle of Franklin-Nashville is two different battles. The Battle of Franklin occurred on November 30, 1864, and The Battle of Nashville occurred two weeks later on December 15-16 1864. General John Bell Hood was defeated at the Battle of Franklin, but followed Union forces up and fought again at the Battle of Nashville. The Confederate Army in Tennessee suffered devastating losses and terrible defeat. General John Bell Hood ordered the Confederate Army to a frontal assault on a powerful Union army during The Battle of Franklin.
This battle cost Hood about a third of his force and six of his finest generals. Hood took command in July 1864 while some of the Confederate Army was held up in Atlanta by the Union General William T. Sherman. He made a series of attacks to try and regain the city but failed in all of them. Hood then retreated to Alabama, then in November moved to Tennessee to try and get Sherman out of the South. Sherman had a large army and split them off, one, led by General George Thomas, was going to meet Hood and deal with him, while Sherman took the force on his March to the Sea. Hood approached Franklin on November 29, while Thomas waited in Nashville waiting for another force, led by John Schofield, to join him from the Deep South. While Schofield was on his way, he was trying to avoid Hood’s army, but Hood tried to flank Schofield. Schofield marched right past Hood’s army and put his men in defense at Franklin. This failure made Hood angry, and he decided to do a frontal assault on Schofield’s forces.
Hood was already at a disadvantage because one of his three divisions was still on its way towards Franklin, and much of his artillery had not arrived yet. Hood’s attack seemed dumb and irresponsible, but lack of his troops’ confidence motivated him, and he wanted to discipline them. On November 30, Hood charged the Union forces. Parts of the Union’s trenches went to Hood’s men, but they did not get much further than that and suffered extreme casualties. The fighting continued after dark before Schofield continued to march north. The Confederates charged 15,000 Union troops, and only 200 men were killed and another 2,000 wounded. The Confederates lost 1,750 out of 23,000 men, and 5,500 were either captured or wounded.
Six Confederate Generals were killed including one their finest division commanders. 60 out of 100 regimental commanders were killed or wounded. Even with these casualties, the fighting did not stop there. Hood decided to push forward and follow the Union forces up to Nashville for another battle two weeks later, known as the Battle of Nashville. The Battle of Nashville was the finale in the horrendous year for the Confederates. In the early morning on December 15, Thomas sent a force led by General James Steedman to attack the Confederates’ right flank. This force hit the Confederates’ hard and drove them back a mile. On December 16 Thomas struck again. With the Confederate army already weak, and completely outnumbered this attack would be the end for Hood’s forces. When Thomas’ forces struck again, the entire Confederate line broke loose and sent Hood’s men into a total retreat.
The only reason the Confederate army was not destroyed was that of General Stephen Lee and his valiant rear-guard action. Both battles resulted in a complete and utter loss and destruction of the Confederate forces. Though the Union lost some men and others wounded, they did not nearly suffer the tremendous damage the Confederates did. These battles resulted in thousands of casualties, and thousands more of injured soldiers. Overall the Battle of Franklin and the Battle of Nashville were both terrible losses for the Confederate Army. These battles cost them thousands of men and embarrassing defeats. Some speculate if Hood would have waited for the soldiers and artillery to arrive the outcome would have been different, but he did not wait and suffered the consequences. Hood also could have stopped at the Battle of Franklin, he could have regrouped and built his forces back up, but he did not. Just two weeks later he charged again and suffered the same outcome.
The Battles of Franklin and Nashville were bloody and a severe blow for the Confederate army. Women in the War The coming of the Civil War challenged the standard ways of life women had throughout history. Women stayed at home and took care of the children and the house, but with the war came new ideologies. Women were pushed into public life, something they could not have imagined before. The lives of women before the war were defined by a set of ideals called “The Cult of True Womanhood.” As the industrial revolution was kicking off up in the North, more men would go to factory or office jobs leaving the women alone at home. This change made the home a more private, feminine type of place. As described by the ideals of true womanhood, women would devote their lives to cleaning, cooking, and creating a nurturing home for their husbands and children.
Though as the Civil War approached women had to leave their homes and be involved in life outside of the home. Thousands of women, in the North and the South, volunteered in war efforts as nurses and brigades. This action was the first time in American history women played a big role in a war effort. After the war was over the Ideals of Womanhood had drastically changed. When the war began in 1861 women wanted to help the cause, on both sides. In the North, women would organize ladies’ aid societies to help supply the Union troops with things they needed like, food, clothing, and cash.
Though these efforts helped some women wanted to do more. Some women were inspired by the work of Florence Nightingale and her fellow nurses in the Crimean War. The women who wanted to do more would find a way to work on the front lines caring for the wounded and injured soldiers trying to keep them healthy and safe. In June of 1861, the federal government created “a preventive hygienic and sanitary service for the benefit of the army” calling it the United States Sanitary Commission. Their primary goal was to help prevent diseases and infections by helping and aiding in army camps and hospitals. By the end of the war, almost 15 million dollars went into providing supplies, women-to the Union Army collected the majority of the money.
Nearly 20,000 women worked with the troops providing aid and food. Working-class white women and free and enslaved African-Americans volunteered their efforts in cooking, cleaning, providing clothes and shoes, and 3,000 of them worked as nurses. Activist Dorothea Dix called for maternal volunteers who would not behave in rude or unfeminine ways, distract the troops, and were responsible. She insisted her nurses be over 30 years old, healthy, plain in dress, and devoid of personal attractions. The army nurses traveled everywhere aiding for the wounded, and they also acted as mothers and housekeepers. Women in the Confederacy had the same ambitions as the Union women, but they did not have as much money and resources as the North. To make up for this, they did much of their work on their own or through local hospitals. They did the same things like the Northern women; they cooked, clean, made clothes, provided uniforms, sandbags, blankets, and other supplies. They even treated soldiers in their own homes.
Many wealthy Southern Women relied on slaved for everything, but also, they were forced to help out in war efforts. Though women were forced out of their ideals of womanhood, many enslaved or freed African-American women did not see this as a difference in their everyday life. Enslaved and freedwomen were already exposed to hard labor, beatings, rape, family separation, and death. Though the civil war was meant to free the slaves, it added to their already heavy workload. Not only did they have to continue their work, but they also had to do the work of the enslaved men who got sent off to war.
This war completely changed the ideals women were taught since birth. Not only did women learn new ideals, if women had not stepped up and supported the men the war would have been completely different. There would have been way more casualties without the aid of nurses or being provided with clothes and food. Women were taught how to cook, clean, take care of children and take care of their husbands. With the men gone and the responsibilities left to the women, they had to learn how to step up and put their mark on society. Women were a tremendous help in the war, and the trials they had to go through truly changed the way women thought of womanhood. The men may have fought the war, but the women were the ones who supported the men.
Battle of Franklin, Tennessee. History.com, A&E Television Networks, www.history.com/this-day-in-history/battle-of-franklin-tennessee. History.com, A&E Television Networks, www.history.com/topics/american-civil-war/battle-of-nashville. History.com, A&E Television Networks, www.history.com/topics/american-civil-war/james-longstreet. History.com, A&E Television Networks, www.history.com/topics/american-civil-war/women-in-the-civil-war.
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