Page images
PDF
EPUB

rotundity of character, its even development of qualities, but he had a wider vision, and perhaps a better military instinct or sagacity. Everything about him ; his bearing, style of dress, and even his most careless attitudes, betokened the high-toned and spirited soldier who loves his profession. His person and deportment were severely military, and it was common for the soldiers to compare him to the game-cock, trimmed and spurred for the fight. His erect carriage, his florid complexion, his neatly-trimmed gray hair and closely-cut beard, divided into side-whiskers, moustache, and goatee, gave him a precise and vigorous appearance. He had a thorough knowledge of all arms, a bold and fertile conception, and a constitution of body which enabled him to bear up against fatigues which would have prostrated the strength of other men. In general intellect and scholarly accomplishments he was undoubtedly the superiour of the five Generals in the Confederate army. In his reports is to be found some of the most vigorous English in the literature of the South. He wrote “imperatoria brevitate." * His language was remarkably precise, and sometimes attained a degree of eloquence which showed that, in the turmoil of the camp, he was not unmindful of the graces of literature.

thus discourses of Johnston's Atlanta campaign and the qualities of the commander:

“A more laborious campaign than that of Atlanta was never undertaken, and it is difficult to say which soldier deserves the most credit for the movement-Sherman or Joe Johnston. The retreats of the latter were not less admirable than the flank marches of the former. Johnston showed as clean heels, as Sherman did a fully guarded front. His camps were left barren; Sherman found only smoking camp-fires, but no spoils were left behind him. It was looked upon by the officers of Sherman's army as the 'cleanest retreat of the war;' and it is very evident now that had Johnston remained in command, and been allowed to continue his Fabian policy, Sherman could never have made his march to the sea, and the capture of Atlanta would have been a Cadmean victory to him. Johnston proved himself a very superiour soldierin fact, the superiour General of the Southern armies. If it could be said of any of the rebels, it could be said of Johnston, that, in fact, he was

66. The noblest Roman of them all:

All the conspirators, save only he,
Did what they did in envy of great Cæsar.
He only, in a generous, honest thought,

And common good to all, made one of them.'”
* A remark of Tacitus on Piso's address to his troops.

It is remarkable that in proportion as the military men of the Confederacy were active and brilliant fighters in the war, they have given pacific and conservative counsels since its close. Those soldiers and officers who did most to uphold the Southern cause in arms, appear to be foremost to recommend prompt and cheerful acquiescence in the results of the issues which were decided on the field of battle. Thus Gen. Johnston, who, as many of his countrymen believe, will, when the whole history of the war comes to be fairly studied and written, prove to have been the ablest Confederate commander, writes, the date being August 17, 1865: “We of the South referred the question at issue between us and the United States to the arbitrament of the sword. The decision has been made, and it is against us. We must acquiesce in that decision, accept it as final, and recognize the fact that Virginia is again one of the United States. Our duties and our interests coincide. We shall consult the one and perform the other by doing all we can to promote the welfare of our neighbours and to restore prosperity to the country. We should at once commence the duties of peaceful citizens by entering upon some useful pursuit, qualifying ourselves to vote, if possible; and at the polls our votes should be cast for conservative men--men who understand and will maintain the interests of Virginia as one of the United States. This is the course which I have recommended to all those with whom I have conversed on the subject, and that which I have adopted for myself as far as practicable."

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

His early military services.--Affair of Blackburn's Ford.—Battle of Williamsburg.

Gallantry at Gaines' Mills.--Incident of march to Second Manassas.--Separate command in South Virginia.--Desperate fighting at Gettysburg.--Sobriquet of “The Bull-dog."-Decisive part in the battle of Chickamauga.—Quarrel with Gen. Bragg --Campaign in East Tennessee.--Its errours.--A sharp correspondence with the Federal General Foster.-Gen. Longstreet rebuked by President Davis. --He is wounded in the Wilderness.--Military character and aptitude of the man.-Fraternal relations with Gen. Lee.—His personal appearance.

[ocr errors]

GEN. LONGSTREET was born in South Carolina, in 1820, and entered the Military Academy at West Point in 1838, and grad uated in 1842. He was brevetted second-lieutenant of the Fourth Regiment of Infantry, and in March, 1845, he was transferred to the Eighth Regiment. He served with distinction in the Mexican war. After the battles of Contreras and Churubusco, he was brevetted captain, “ for gallant and meritorious conduct," and was, three weeks after, brevetted major for "gallantry” at the battle of El Molino del Rey. He displayed great courage at the assault of Chapultepec, and was named in Gen. Scott's official report among those who had distinguished themselves on this brilliant and perilous occasion.

At the beginning of the war between the sundered sections of the Union, he was paymaster in the United States Army, with the rank of major; but he resigned his commission and was at once appointed Brigadier-General in the Confederate army. He made an early appearance in the history of the war; the first conspicuous action of his command being in the affair of Bull Run, which preceded the general battle of Manassas, and took

place on the 18th July, 1861, when Tyler, of the Federal army, attempted to force a passage of the stream. Here with only twelve hundred bayonets, afterwards reinforced by two regiments and some artillery, Longstreet held the enemy in check, until the engagement degenerated into one of artillery, in which there were but few casualties on either side. In his official report of the day Gen. Beauregard wrote: “ Brig.-Gen. Longstreet, who commanded immediately the troops engaged at Blackburn's Ford on the 18th, equalled my confident expectations, and I may fitly say, that by his presence in the right place, at the right moment, among his men, by the exhibition of characteristic coolness, and by his words of encouragement to the men of his command, he infused a confidence and spirit that contributed largely to the success of our arms on that day.”

In the subsequent battle of Manassas, Longstreet's brigade was not actively engaged, but remained making a demonstration at Blackburn's Ford to engross the enemy's reserves and forces. The plan of battle prepared by the Commanding General had contemplated a movement on the enemy's rear and front at Centreville, which would have engaged Longstreet; but the orders to this effect miscarried, and the battle was fought on the Confederate side, fortuitously, and as circumstances developed it.

In the Peninsular campaign Longstreet, who had been promoted Major-General, was intrusted with defending the rear of Johnston's army as it retreated towards Richmond. He fought the battle of Williamsburg, in which he not only secured Johnston's retreat, but won a brilliant victory. But little account was ever made in Southern newspapers of this victory, and yet it had some brilliant points. Longstreet engaged nine brigades of the Federal army, conquered two miles of ground, captured nine pieces of artillery, inflicted a loss upon the enemy in killed, wounded, and prisoners, which McClellan himself officially counted as more than two thousand, and moved off the next day leaving the greater portion of Heintzelman's corps stunned behind him, and such a lesson to McClellan as to cause him to abandon the pursuit.

In the battles around Richmond, Longstreet fought brilliantly and effectively at Gaines' Mills and at Frazier's Farm. At the former place, commanded by Gen. Lee to make a diversion in fa

vour of attacking columns on other parts of the field, he took the responsibility of changing the feint into an attack under disad vantages of position which he thus describes :-"In front of me, the enemy occupied the wooded slope of Turkey Hill, the crest of which is fifty or sixty feet higher than the plain over which my troops must pass to make an attack. The plain is about a quarter of a mile wide ; the further side of it was occupied by sharpshooters. Above these, and on the slope of the hill, was a line of infantry behind trees, felled so as to form a good breastwork. The crest of the hill, some forty feet above the last line, was strengthened by rifle trenches, and occupied by infantry and artillery. In addition to this, the plain was enfiladed by batteries on the other side of the Chickahominy. I was, in fact, in the position from which the enemy wished us to attack him." The attack was successful; and as Jackson came upon the ground about the same time, one of his divisions coming in on the left of Longstreet, it occupied the entire field, and drove the enemy in irretrievable rout. “No battle-field,” wrote Gen. Longstreet, “could boast of more gallantry and devotion.”

In the campaign of Northern Virginia Longstreet had a conspicuous part, and his march througl Thoroughfare Gap to unite with Jackson on the plains of Manassas, was the critical event of that field, where Pope was overthrown, and the State of Virginia cleared of invading armies.

Of this march an incident is related indicative of the state of war. While Longstreet was hurrying forward to Jackson's relief, several brigades in advance, on different roads, were observed to halt, thereby stopping all further progress of the corps. Very angry at this, Longstreet trotted to the front, and was informed that a courier had brought orders from Gen. Lee to that effect! “From Gen. Lee ?” said he, his eyes glowing with rage. 6 Where is that courier ?” he asked. “There he goes now, General, galloping down the road.” “Keep your eyes on him, overtake him, and bring him here.” This was soon accomplished. “By whose orders did you halt my brigade ?” asked the Brigadier in advance. “As I have already told you, by Gen. Lee's! I have orders for Longstreet, and must be off to the rear !” “Here is Longstreet," said that General, moving forward. “Where are your orders ?” The spy was caught! He stammered, turned

« PreviousContinue »