Monday, September 24, 2012
First in a series of posts on Longstreet...
James Longstreet was born in Edgefield, South Carolina on January 8, 1821, son of James and Mary Anne Dent Longstreet, his father nicknamed him Pete.
James gained several friends whom he would retain throughout his adult life: one of these was a young man named Ulysses Simpson Grant, who was in the class behind James. At the time he graduated from West Point as part of the class of 1842, he ranked 54th in a class of 56, sixteen of whom would go on to be Civil War generals.
A year later, to Longstreet's delight, Ulysses S. Grant survived West Point and reported for duty at Jefferson Barracks. The two soon became constant companions. It was there that he introduced his cousin Julia Dent to Grant, and the two were soon married.
James Longstreet fell in love with Maria Louise Garland – called Louise by her family –his commanding officers daughter. The couple honored her parents' request that they wait until Mary was older and were married in Lynchburg, Virginia, on March 8, 1848.
The War defined Longstreet's life. When Alabama seceded from the Union in January of 1861, Longstreet, like many other officers with ties to the south, felt the pull of his allegiance to his home in Georgia. He resigned his commission in the U.S. Army in May and joined the forces of the Confederacy as a lieutenant colonel. He traveled to the Confederate capitol at Richmond, Virginia, was appointed brigadier-general in June, and was sent to Manassas Junction, Virginia, to head a brigade of Virginia infantry.