Longstreet at Gettysburg

A Critical Reassessment

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About the Book

This is the first book-length, critical analysis of Lieutenant General James Longstreet’s actions at the Battle of Gettysburg. The author argues that Longstreet’s record has been discredited unfairly, beginning with character assassination by his contemporaries after the war and, persistently, by historians in the decades since. By closely studying the three-day battle, and conducting an incisive historiographical inquiry into Longstreet’s treatment by scholars, this book presents an alternative view of Longstreet as an effective military leader, and refutes over a century of negative evaluations of his performance.

About the Author(s)

Cory M. Pfarr works for the Department of Defense. He lives in Pikesville, Maryland.

Bibliographic Details

Cory M. Pfarr

Foreword by Harold M. Knudsen

Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 215
Bibliographic Info: 27 photos, maps, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2019
pISBN: 978-1-4766-7404-9
eISBN: 978-1-4766-3499-9
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Maps ix
Foreword by Harold M. Knudsen 1
Prologue: Abandoned by History 3

Pre-Campaign and Day One
1. The Quibbling of Historians 17
2. The Indispensable J.E.B. Stuart Roams East 28
3. Lee Hesitates Without Stuart 34
4. Lee and Longstreet Deliberate Tactical Offensive 39
5. An Unfortunate Position Considered … and Reconsidered 49

Day Two
6. The Seething Disagreement and Apparent Apathy That Weren’t 57
7. Intelligence Woes, Indecision and an Unfortunate Position Re-Reconsidered 64
8. A Misconceived Attack Plan Set in Motion 69
9. The First Corps March Conundrum 75
10. McLaws Ordered to Attack an Occupied Road 84
11. Hood’s Proposition 88
12. Longstreet According to McLaws 96
13. Longstreet’s Wave Rolls Forward 101
14. Lee Watches Hill’s Partial Assault 105
15. The Idleness of the Second Corps 113
16. The Attack Fizzles Out 118
17. The Night of the Second Day Controversy 121

Day Three
18. Lee and Longstreet Prepare for a ­Last-Ditch Effort 133
19. The Artillery Support Plan for the Grand Charge 143
20. The ­Alexander-Longstreet ­Pre-Attack Dialogue 148
21. The ­Pickett-Pettigrew-Trimble Charge 156
22. The Wilcox and Lang Issue 160
23. Lee’s Costly Decision 166
24. Longstreet Assesses Lee and Gettysburg 172
25. Shouldering the Burden of Gettysburg 175

Postscript: Reminiscences 185
Chapter Notes 187
Bibliography 199
Index 203

Book Reviews & Awards

• “Of the thousands of books published on the Battle of Gettysburg, Cory M. Pfarr has written the first full treatment of the abundant controversies concerning Confederate Lt. Gen. James Longstreet’s performance during the fighting…. Pfarr does an excellent job detailing the disputes many critics and soldiers have had with Longstreet over the past 155 or so years…. a first-rate job…modern scholars should use this well-researched, readable analysis to reexamine their opinions of Lee’s ‘Old Warhorse.’”—Civil War Times

• “Using an extensive list of original primary sources, Pfarr avoids the frequent pitfall of those who rely on the work and interpretations of previous authors. Rather, he goes directly to the words of those who were witnesses to the events, who had knowledge of what had happened…Clearly written and based on sound research, Longstreet at Gettysburg should be read by any serious student of the battle”—Gettysburg Magazine

• “Pfarr delves impressively into the mountain of primary source material…a must read for all Gettysburg aficionados”—North & South Magazine

• “A work certain to provoke thought and provide material for endless debates among Civil War researchers…Pfarr’s prose flows well and is easy to read…deserves a prominent spot in the ongoing evaluation (and re-evaluation) of command decisions that influenced the outcome of major battles”—York Daily Record

• “A seminal work of historical research and scholarship…critically important and unreservedly recommended”—Midwest Book Review

• “Cory M. Pfarr provides the most detailed analysis to date of James Longstreet’s actions at Gettysburg, the motivations of his postwar critics, and the manner in which bias against Longstreet has influenced histories of the battle down to the present day. This is a welcome addition to the historiography of the most studied military engagement in American history.”—William Garrett Piston, author of Lee’s Tarnished Lieutenant: James Longstreet and his Place in Southern History

• “About once each decade an honest work concerning James Longstreet is published. Cory Pfarr has this decade covered.”—Richard Pilcher, past president, the Longstreet Society

• “General James Longstreet remains the most controversial Confederate officer to fight at Gettysburg. Surprisingly, no full-length assessment of Longstreet’s Gettysburg record has been produced until now. Cory Pfarr methodically analyzes many of the myths and controversies that surround Lee’s ‘Old War Horse.’ His results challenge popular interpretations that were created by ‘Lost Cause’ advocates and continue among historians to this day. Pfarr’s provocative work will be required reading for all subsequent treatments of Longstreet at Gettysburg.”—James A. Hessler, Gettysburg Licensed Battlefield Guide and author of Sickles at Gettysburg and Gettysburg’s Peach Orchard