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James Longstreet was born in Edgefield, South Carolina, January 18 1821, and was the fifth of eleven children. His father, whom he was named after, died when he was 12 years old. His mother moved twice afterward, once to Augusta, Georgia, and then to a nearby city Huntsville. His uncle, Judge Augustus Baldwin Longstreet, watched after their Longstreet.
James liked to pass the time by hunting, fishing and horseback riding. In his early age he had dreams of becoming a soldier and loved to read about historical leaders like; Julius Creaser, Napoleon, Alexander the Great, and George Washington.
His uncle urged him to join the military. James studied and qualified for an entrance exam to the United States Military Academy. He passed and was admitted to West Point from the state of Alabama.
As a student at West Point, Longstreet didn’t do well academically, but he was able to do everything else that needed physical activity, sports, and horsemanship. Later he dais that his non-scholastic skills were what made it possible for her to graduate. One year behind him was a good friend, Ulysses S. Grant, the man that would 20 years later defeat Longstreet\'s army under General Robert E. Lee. Longstreet graduated at the bottom of his class, 54th out of 62, and was assigned to the Fourth Infantry at Jefferson Baracks.
Lieutanet Longstreet was then sent to Fort Jessup in Louisiana. There he served under the old Indian fighter General Zachary Taylor, and then with the eighth Infantry to St. Augustine, Florida. In March 1846 Longstreet was ordered to go to Rio Grande at Matamoras with Taylor’s forces to fight in the Mexican War. In a fight at Molino del Rey, Longstreet was not hurt but the Americans lost a lot of soldiers. In another battle at the Mexican fortress of Chapultepec he was shot through the thigh while carrying the regiment flag.
After a month off he was back in Jefferson’s Barracks in the autumn of 1848. He stayed with this regiment for quite a few years serving in the Indian campaigns in the West until 1855. During that year he transformed to become a major in the paymaster department at Albuquerque, New Mexico. Longstreet had given up all hope of military glory. The better pay, important to him as a husband and father, was probably the deciding factor in his choice.
When news arrived of the attack on Fort Sumpter Longstreets Fellow officers tried to persuade him to stay in the army but he still resigned. His biggest concern seemed to be hit separation from the army’s payroll. He planed to become paymaster of the new Confederate government. He set out in a stagecoach for El Paso, Texas where he made his way to the Confederate capitol, Richmond, Virginia. When he got there he found that West Point graduates were wanted in the military. Longstreet’s background was too valuable to let go to waste. Right away he was commissioned as a brigadier general, and shipped out to the front at Manassas Station in Virginia.
Longstreet’s troops knew their commander had a solid reputation. His silence and self-confidence gave off a sense of complete reliability. *Old Pete* as his soldiers called him, even though we was slightly deaf, was a dignified man who never seemed to get tired.
His calmness in battle was first witnessed in a battle at Bull Run. The odds were even between the two sides, but the Union’s artillery was far better equipped. Longstreet’s troops received their first shots of battle when fireballs and bullets came flying in their direction. Longstreet was unaffected by all of this. When part of his line broke, he rode straight into battle with his sword raised to try to rally his men. After the initial shock, his soldiers regrouped, and fought off the Union troops. The battle ended when the Union realized that both sides would end up slaughtered before a side was victorious. It was a great victory for Longstreet, even though Stonewall Jackson got all the glory, because he had been on the field and was prepared for anything. Longstreet’s greatest military quality was noticed at this battle. It was his talent to use good defensive tactics. It was a great victory, he had been on the field and
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American Civil War, James Longstreet, Seven Days Battles, Battle of Seven Pines, Army of Northern Virginia, First Corps, Army of Northern Virginia, Siege of Suffolk
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