"A portrait is a picture in which there is just a tiny little something not quite right about the mouth." -- John Singer Sargent

Monday, November 18, 2019

James Longstreet

This 1997 statue of Gen. James Longstreet stands on Confederate Avenue in Gettysburg National Battlefield Park.

A nearby historical marker gives this biography of Longstreet:

Lieutenant General James Longstreet
Commanding First Corps Army of Northern Virginia
January 8, 1821 - January 2, 1904
Born in Edgefield District, S.C. Graduated from West Point 1842. Served as Lieutenant with the 8th U.S. Infantry in the Mexican War and brevetted major for gallantry, Battle of Molino del Rey. Resigned commission as a major, U.S. Army, May 1861. Appointed brigadier general, Confederate States Army, June 1861. Promoted to Major General, CSA, October 1861. Promoted Lieutenant general, CSA, October 1862. Gen Robert E. Lee's second in command and ranking lieutenant general in the Army of Northern Virginia. Gallantly led troops in battles at First Manassas, the Peninsula, Second Manassas, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Gettysburg, Chickamauga and Knoxville. Wounded at Battle of the Wilderness, May 1864. Returned to duty during the Union siege of Petersburg, and present with Gen. Lee at surrender of army at Appomattox. Buried at Alta Vista Cemetery, Gainesville, GA.
“Ah! here is Longstreet, here's my ‘Old War-Horse.’”
Gen. Robert E. Lee (September 17, 1862)
 The statue marks the Longstreet's position on July 3, 1863 during the battle of Gettysburg.
 Another nearby marker Longstreet's military situation:

Lieutenant General James Longstreet
Commanding First Corps Army of Northern Virginia
Soldiers of Gen. Longstreet's command held and protected the right wing of the army July 2-4, 1863. His First Corps attacked and dislodged Union forces at the Devil's Den, the Wheatfield and the Peach Orchard on July 2. As a portion of his infantry secured the Peach Orchard, Gen. Longstreet advanced on horseback with them. The following day, Gen. Longstreet was ordered by Gen. Robert E. Lee to coordinate an attack against the Union center on Cemetery Ridge. On July 3, "Longstreet's Assault" was repulsed with great loss after penetrating the enemy's battle lien on Cemetery Ridge. During the march back to Virginia, Gen. Longstreet and his First Corps played a prominent role in protecting the retreating army.
“By the soldiers he is invariably spoken of as ‘the best fighter in the whole army.’” - Lt. Col. Arthur J. Fremantle, Her Majesty's Coldstream Guards (June 27, 1863)

This  work is a rather late addition to the panoply of statuary on the battlefield at Gettysburg and it is unusual in several  respects. Longstreet's horse, Hero, stands right on the ground rather than on a grand pedestal. The statue is foreshortened from front to back so, from some angles, Hero's backend seems inordinately small.  The bas-relief below is available on a medallion from the sculptor for $85. It shows the sculpture from a vantage point that complements the perspective.

By placing the statue on the ground Gary Casteel allows us to see many details that  would otherwise by missed, like the tobacco leaves on Longstreet's harness decoration. The statue was commissioned by a North Carolina Sons of the Confederate Veterans group; the tobacco leaves represent North Carolina.

Eagles decorate Longstreet's spurs.

Visitors often place tokens on the statue like this confederate battle flag hung on the handle of Longstreet's sword.

Gary Casteel Scptr. 1997 

Gary Casteel is artist-in-residence at The National Civil War Memorial Commission in Gettysburg. 

G. L. Casteel

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