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James Longstreet Time Line
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January 8, 1821 - James Longstreet is born near Edgefield, South Carolina.
1838 - James Longstreet enters the U.S. Military Academy at West Point with an appointment from Alabama. He sought that state's slot after learning Georgia's had already been filled.
1842 - James Longstreet graduates from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. His classmates include George E. Pickett and Ulysses S. Grant.
1846–1848 - Serving with the 8th U.S. Infantry, James Longstreet wins repeated brevet promotions for conspicuous bravery during the Mexican War.
March 8, 1848 - James Longstreet marries Maria Louisa Garland. The couple will have ten children, five of whom will live to adulthood.
1850s - James Longstreet rises to the rank of major in the U.S. Army, serving mostly on the western frontier.
1861 - James Longstreet resigns his commission in the U.S. Army and enters Confederate service as a brigadier general.
October 7, 1861 - James Longstreet is promoted to major general.
October 9, 1862 - Confederate president Jefferson Davis, on the recommendation of Robert E. Lee, promotes James Longstreet to the newly created rank of lieutenant general. Longstreet's promotion dates one day before the same promotion given to Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson, allowing Longstreet to outrank Jackson.
November 6, 1862 - Confederate general Robert E. Lee reorganizes his Army of Northern Virginia, placing James Longstreet in command of the First Corps and Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson in command of the Second Corps.
April 11–May 4, 1863 - James Longstreet leads three divisions of Confederate troops in a siege of the Union garrison at Suffolk. While Suffolk was never completely captured, needed supplies were. Longstreet and his troops, however, missed the major Confederate victory at Chancellorsville that took place at the same time.
July 1–2, 1863 - After the victorious first day at Gettysburg, James Longstreet urges Robert E. Lee to disengage. Lee instead orders Longstreet to strike the Union left on July 2. This attack is unsuccessful.
July 3, 1863 - Robert E. Lee countermands James Longstreet's efforts to maneuver around the Union left flank at Gettysburg. Instead, Lee orders Longstreet to attack the Union center. Pickett's Charge is a costly failure.
September 20, 1863 - Having advocated a concentration in the West, James Longstreet receives permission to lead reinforcements for Braxton Bragg's army in Georgia. Arriving in time for the second day's fighting at the Battle of Chickamauga, Longstreet drives half the Union army from the field, helping to achieve one of the greatest Confederate victories of the war.
October 1863–April 1864 - James Longstreet's service in the West is marred by quarrels with his commander, Braxton Bragg. Detached from Bragg, Longstreet fails to recapture Knoxville, Tennessee, in November. He rejoins Robert E. Lee in Virginia in time to defend against Union general-in-chief Ulysses S. Grant's spring offensive.
May 6, 1864, 12 p.m. - James Longstreet is badly wounded in the neck and right shoulder by "friendly" fire from Confederate troops during the Battle of the Wilderness. He is shot just a few miles from where Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson was mortally wounded, also by friendly fire, at the Battle of Chancellorsville a year earlier, on May 2, 1863.
October 19, 1864 - James Longstreet returns to service as commander of the First Corps of the Army of Northern Virginia. He had been wounded by "friendly" fire from Confederate troops during the Battle of the Wilderness on May 6.
1865 - Following the Confederacy's defeat, James Longstreet moves to New Orleans, Louisiana. He works as a cotton broker and in the insurance business. He also becomes a member of the Republican Party.
1868 - James Longstreet is one of a small number of former Confederates who endorse the former Union general-in-chief Ulysses S. Grant for president. Grant was a classmate of Longstreet at West Point and had married one of Longstreet's cousins. Grant appoints Longstreet the surveyor of customs for New Orleans, a post he will hold until 1873.
January 19, 1872 - Jubal A. Early, a former Confederate general who led a division at the Battle of Gettysburg, gives a speech at Washington and Lee University in Lexington criticizing James Longstreet's conduct at the 1863 battle. Early's campaign against Longstreet's reputation helps to formulate the Lost Cause view of the Civil War.
September 14, 1874 - James Longstreet, at the head of the largely black Louisiana state militia, is shot and briefly held prisoner during a riot in New Orleans, Louisiana. The rioters are members of the Crescent City White League, a white supremacist organization attempting to overthrow the government of Louisiana. Federal troops eventually restore order.
1875 - James Longstreet moves from New Orleans, Louisiana, where he has lived since the end of the Civil War, to Gainesville, Georgia.
March 7, 1877 - While living in New Orleans, Longstreet converted to Catholicism and remained a Catholic for the rest of his life.
1878 - James Longstreet is appointed deputy collector of internal revenue in Georgia, a position he will hold until 1879.
January 1879 - James Longstreet is appointed postmaster of Gainesville, Georgia.
May 1880 - James Longstreet, a former Confederate general turned Republican Party member, is nominated to be ambassador to the Ottoman Empire by President Rutherford B. Hayes. He will hold the position until June 1881.
June 1881 - James Longstreet is appointed U.S. marshal for Georgia, a position he will hold until 1884.
December 29, 1889 - James Longstreet's wife of forty-one years, Maria Louisa Garland Longstreet, dies.
1896 - James Longstreet authors his autobiography, From Manassas to Appomattox. He uses it to defend himself against attacks (often politically motivated) on his generalship during the Civil War. He also displays a jealousy of the reputations of Robert E. Lee and Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson, criticizing some of their actions.
September 8, 1897 - James Longstreet, now seventy-six years old, marries thirty-four-year-old Helen Dortch in the governor's mansion in Atlanta, Georgia. She would live until 1962, spending many of those years defending Longstreet against his many harsh critics.
1898 - James Longstreet serves as a U.S. railroad commissioner.
January 2, 1904 - James Longstreet dies in Gainesville, Georgia, and is buried in the Alta Vista Cemetery there.
First published: March 12, 2009 | Last modified: March 8, 2014. Encyclopedia Virginia
Contributed by William Garrett Piston, professor of history at Missouri State University. He is the author of Lee's Tarnished Lieutenant; James Longstreet and His Place in Southern History (1987).