Wednesday, September 26, 2012
On January 2, 1904, Longstreet contracted pneumonia. Large quantities of blood began to flow from his mouth, and he hemorrhaged so badly that the throat wound he had received 49 years earlier was reopened. Delirious for some time, he eventually lost consciousness.
James Longstreet died of pneumonia on the morning of January 2, 1904, just six days short of his 83rd birthday.
On January 6th when the services began, a local guard unit and representatives of the Longstreet Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy attended the body. Two priests and Bishop Keiley, one of the general's old soldiers, conducted the services. All the Longstreet children except James attended.
After services at the courthouse, pallbearers carried the casket to a hearse, which began the long procession to Gainesville's Alta Vista Cemetery. State and local dignitaries, militia units, Confederate veterans carrying flags, and other groups followed as church bells tolled. At the gravesite, Bishop Keiley gave a eulogy, after which guards fired their volleys, and Taps sounded its haunting notes.
When the news of his death spread across the country, many newspapers had extolled his virtues as a man and his prowess as a general. Too bad they waited so long. As the pallbearers prepared to lower the casket, one of his old soldiers was moved to lay his uniform and enlistment papers on the lid of Longstreet's coffin, saying nothing, but speaking volumes.
Despite all the accusations, he still commanded the respect of thousands both North and South, both Blue and Gray. As Longstreet himself had said:
Error lives but a day. Truth is Eternal.