Confederate General JAMES LONGSTREET (1821-1904) served in Florida and the Mexican War before being appointed Confederate Brigadier General. He was given command of half of Robert E. Lee’s infantry after the Seven Days’ Battle, and promoted to Lieutenant General after Antietam and Fredericksburg. His hesitancy in ordering Pickett’s Charge at Gettysburg led to vindictive criticism by Southerners and Questions about his strategic ability. His book “From Manassas to Appomattox” gave his view of the war.
Offering an archive of three documents relating to the life and military experience of Longstreet. His posthumously published biography “Life and Longstreet at High Trade: Gettysburg in the Light of the Official Records” had just been released by the General’s widow, Helen Dortch Longstreet (1863-1962) around the summer and fall of 1904. Publicity materials like these were sent to potential buyers.
The first watermarked document, outlined in black, datelined Georgia, August 24, 1904, announces the biography’s imminent publication and states in part, “Mrs. Longstreet’s brief history of Gettysburg and other famous battles...and important campaigns of the Mexican War, compiled from General Longstreet’s Memoirs...is about ready for delivery...
“Mrs. Longstreet will be gratified to add your library to the list of famous institutions that have sent orders...”
The second document is auto signed “Yours very faithfully Mrs. James Longstreet” at the bottom. Dated October 1, 1904, from Gainesville, Georgia, and announces the recent launch of the book. The biography incorporated the unpublished memoirs of Longstreet, and other Mexican and Civil War reminiscences and illustrations in “a handsomely bound volume of about four hundred pages; printed on heavy paper; gilt top and uncut edges; finely illustrated; electrotyped and printed by J.B. Lippincott Co., Philadelphia; published by the author.” The biography cost $2.75.
Last, the preface of the biography is included. It reproduces a letter sent from the late James Longstreet to his onetime foe Union General Daniel E. Sickles to illustrate the extent of Longstreet’s post-war pro-Union patriotism. Helen Longstreet continued in the bottom paragraphs: “I was writing for love of him [Longstreet] whose dear name and fame had been attacked; to place before his fading vision enduring appreciation of his valiant deeds as a soldier and high qualities as a gentleman...And I bring to his tomb this little leaf, fragrant with my love, bedewed with my tears, heavy-weighted with my woe and desolation.”
JAMES LONGSTREET served in the Union Army during the Mexican War and fought for the Confederacy during the Civil War. He led forces in many major Civil War battles with distinction, but his leadership decisions at Gettysburg were controversial. In addition, his widow’s comments reveal that Longstreet’s standing in the Southern community was also problematic, mostly because he later affiliated with the Republican Party during Reconstruction. Among Southerners, this political reversal was equated with an ideological betrayal of the Confederacy. Helen Longstreet, his second wife, wanted to protect her husband’s name against accusations of being a “Scalawag,” and she did so in this book by recalling his virtues and achievements.
The three items are in overall excellent condition with minor wear.
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