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General James Longstreet: The Confederacy's Most Controversial Soldier [Paperback]

By Jeffry D. Wert (Author)
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Item description for General James Longstreet: The Confederacy's Most Controversial Soldier by Jeffry D. Wert...

Argues that Longstreet was unfairly blamed for the defeat at Gettysburg

Publishers Description
General James Longstreet fought in nearly every campaign of the Civil War, from Manassas (the first battle of Bull Run) to Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chickamauga, Gettysburg, and was present at the surrender at Appomattox. Yet, he was largely held to blame for the Confederacy's defeat at Gettysburg. "General James Longstreet" sheds new light on the controversial commander and the man Robert E. Lee called "my old war horse."

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Simon & Schuster
Pages   528
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.44" Width: 5.5" Height: 1.32"
Weight:   1 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Dec 1, 1994
Publisher   Simon & Schuster
Edition  S&s PB  
ISBN  0671892878  
ISBN13  9780671892876  
UPC  076714016002  

Availability  0 units.

More About Jeffry D. Wert

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Jeffrey D. Wert is the author of eight previous books on Civil War topics, most recently "Cavalryman of the Lost Cause "and "The Sword of Lincoln". His articles and essays on the Civil War have appeared in many publications, including" Civil War Times Illustrated", "American History Illustrated", and "Blue and Gray". A former history teacher at Penns Valley High School, he lives in Centre Hall, Pennsylvania, slightly more than one hour from the battlefield at Gettysburg.

Jeffry D. Wert currently resides in Centre Hall, in the state of Pennsylvania. Jeffry D. Wert was born in 1946.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Biographies & Memoirs > General
2Books > Subjects > Biographies & Memoirs > Historical > United States > General
3Books > Subjects > Biographies & Memoirs > Leaders & Notable People > Military > Military Leaders
4Books > Subjects > History > Military > General

Reviews - What do customers think about General James Longstreet: The Confederacy's Most Controversial Soldier?

From Bull Run to Appomattox: He saw it all  Feb 20, 2008
From Bull Run to Appomattox: He saw it all
Simply the best biography on the South's most controversial General: James Longsteet. Jeffry Wert does an outstanding job of analyzing both the complex nature of General Longstreet and his interesting interpersonal relationships with his family, subordinates, and fellow Confederate leaders. General Longstreet had several petty character flaws and engaged at times in questionable quarrelsome conduct, but he was also a brilliant military tactician and strategist, and loyal subordinate. Always seeking advancement, he was an outstanding brigade, division, and corps commander. A defensive tactician by nature, General Longstreet would not hesitate to attack and destroy the enemy if conditions warranted it: As he displayed at the Second battle of Manassas, Chickamauga, and The Wilderness. His sense of the battlefield, and the ebb and flow of the battle was superb and resulted in General Lee seeking out his counsel throughout the War. Unfortunately, his attempt at command at the army level was less than satisfactory as graphically demonstrated during the Knoxville Campaign. Unlike Lee or Grant, Longstreet became too bogged down in the minutiae of command and failed to understand the broader picture of leadership at the army command level. His petty nature and partiality of certain subordinates led to bickering and dissention within his corps and army level commands. His handling of these problems were at times too simplistic and harsh highlighting his only major leadership flaw.
Despite that trait, General Longstreet was an outstanding general who Lee depended on for advice and combat leadership. Overall his men loved him and his commanders admired him.
Of particular note was Mr. Wert's historical analysis of the ill fated Knoxville Campaign of late 1864, and General Longstreet's controversial life after the Civil War. Also noteworthy was Longstreet's early military career before the Civil War and his interesting and sometimes sad family life.
I heartily recommend this in depth biography of the South's best corps commander and most controversial soldier. Mr. Wert does an outstanding job of analyzing Longstreet the complex man as well as superb military leader. He pulls no punches in describing a man wrapped in glory warts and all. A must read for anyone interested in more than a superficial examination of America's most terrible war.
Note: I have had the distinct privilege of attending several of Mr. Wert's highly informative Civil War tours. He is an extremely knowledgeable historian and a very personable tour guide who brings the battlefield alive. I highly recommend participating in one of his informative tours.
A fine biography of a noteworthy Civil War figure  Nov 12, 2007
This is a very readable, informative, and balanced biography of one of the ten or so most important generals of the Civil War and the one who perhaps was in the thick of battle more often than any other. Longstreet also is of particular interest because for so long he was the principal scapegoat for many Southern adherents to the Lost Cause mythology. Indeed, this book represents a major step in the historical reassessment of Longstreet.

The book is a true biography, covering Longstreet's life from cradle to grave. For such a general biography of a military figure, the descriptions of battles and tactics are handled adroitly, being detailed and readily comprehensible to the general reader (as opposed to the military specialist). The author and/or publisher are to be commended and thanked for including a dozen maps or diagrams of battles, which are extremely helpful in understanding the narrative. Also of particular interest are the discussions of the relationship between Longstreet and Robert E. Lee and their at times radically differing approaches to waging war.

I rather doubt that this book will be on the shopping list of anyone who is not already a Civil War buff or those looking for a responsible biography of Longstreet. But it can easily be recommended to either of those groups, and if someone else should pick it up for whatever reason, they will, I think, be rewarded and discover in James Longstreet a great general and a fascinating American, flawed (like us all) but nonetheless admirable.
I disagree with the title.....  Jul 30, 2007
....but not much else. General Braxton Bragg was, and is, the South's most controversial soldier. With that out of the way.... the subject. This is an absolutely superb study of a man who was a genius far ahead of his time. Another author once wrote an article speculating as to which Civil War General, were he to rise from the dead and get a shave, would have the shortest "learning curve" to become a General in the modern Army; his answer was James Longstreet, and he may very well be right [my own answer was Bragg...there I go again]. Both men were 20th century Generals trying to fight the last 18th. century war; naturally, there were some problems.

James Longstreet was born in South Carolina of a Georgia family, but he was certainly not of the old Southern aristocracy in the way Lee, Johnston, Polk, and others were. The original family name was Langestraet, and they were Dutch from New Jersey who moved to Georgia. Longstreet went to West Point and then commenced a career of one boring assignment after another, in an Army where promotion only came when somebody died. The war in Mexico proved he was a real soldier, but afterwards he was a lowly paymaster in Texas.

When the war came, he went South just because his state did. Had his family stayed in New Jersey, Lee would have had a very tough opponent, instead of his "Old War Horse". Longstreet commanded the First Corps thru the whole war, except for his detached service in Suffolk that kept him out of Chancellorsville, and the months after Gettysburg when he was in Tennessee. Severely wounded in The Wilderness, he returned, and was with Lee at the end.

Longstreet was loved by his troops; he fought on the defensive, never wasting his men's lives. He could march, and charge, as well as Jackson when necessary, but preferred to let the enemy make the mistakes. Further, he was "human", sharing the vices of his troops, unlike Lee and Jackson. At Second Manassas and Antietam he proved his greatness, and at Fredericksburg came his finest hour as wave after wave of Blue troops bravely, but foolishly, charged up Mayre's Heights.

Gettysburg...THAT is where most discussions of James Longstreet begin and end. He and Lee had different ideas as to how [and whether] to fight the battle, and Lee was the boss. Longstreet [and Hood] wanted to move to the right, get between Meade and Washington, and hold on the defensive. Lee wanted to fight the enemy where he was. Who was right? God knows that what we did didn't work, but we forget that it dern near did. Lee took the blame; as commander, that was proper. Dick Ewell's lethargy and Jeb Stuart's independent brashness weren't noted at the time, though they contributed massively to the Confederate defeat. Generations of Southerners have blamed Longstreet for Gettysburg, but that didn't start till well after the war, and the causes were political, not military. I guess my own opinion of who was right is obvious, but I yet maintain that Robert E. Lee was the greatest soldier that ever lived.

After the war, Longstreet was a cotton merchant in New Orleans, and did well until he wrote a letter in 1867 essentially stating that the South needed to build a bridge and get over it; for this, he remained an outcast the rest of his life. Dr. Freeman stated that after the war, if a man "became a Republican or consorted with Negroes", those sins would never be forgiven. Longstreet was reduced to living on Republican political appointments. [Billy Mahone likewise became an apostate, but at least he became rich; Beauregard said nothing; he simply got over the bridge to wealth. But Beauregard was always different]. Longstreet wrote his memoirs, but did it badly, and made his cause worse.

This is a superb book that does a wonderful job defending a man who, in a just world, would need no defense...I've saved the best till last...the opening two pages of the book, describing General Longstreet's appearance at the dedication of the Lee statue on Monument Avenue in Richmond in 1890, is the very finest piece of historical writing I have ever read, anytime, anywhere. Period. The other Generals saw James Longstreet as an apostate, but his old troops knew what made a leader, and loved him for it.
Longstreet the military might  Jul 16, 2007
I like how the book goes into detail on General Lee and the problems of being a Staff Officer under a "Demagod". General Longstreet's request for a flanking movement, if greated by General Lee, could have changed the course of the war.
Who is to blame for Gettysburg ?  Jan 30, 2007
Historians since 1865 have blamed General James Longstreet for the Confederacy losing the Battle at Gettysburg. This book places the blame on Robert E Lee, which after reading this book as well as other books recently, I would tend to agree with that assumption. The writer seems to be a Longstreet fan though, and seems to add to Longstreet's capability as a General, while placing the blame for several Confederate losses on General Stonewall Jackson which I do not agree with at all. In essence, the writer's purpose of the book is to clear Longstreet's name at the expense of Robert E Lee and Stonewall Jackson, as well as other Generals that Longstreet came in contact with during the Civil War. Unfortunately the author feels that is the only way to clear Longstreet's name.

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