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Manuscript/Mixed Material Letter, Gen. James Longstreet to Col. Edward P. Alexander; and copies of Alexander's battlefield dispatches to Longstreet and Gen. George E. Pickett during the battle of Gettysburg, 3 July 1863.

About this Item

Title

  • Letter, Gen. James Longstreet to Col. Edward P. Alexander; and copies of Alexander's battlefield dispatches to Longstreet and Gen. George E. Pickett during the battle of Gettysburg, 3 July 1863.

Created / Published

  • 3 July 1863

Headings

  • -  Army officers
  • -  Civil War, 1861-1865
  • -  Lee, Robert E. (Robert Edward) (1807-1870)
  • -  Longstreet, James (1821-1904)
  • -  Alexander, Edward P. (1835-1910)
  • -  Confederate Army
  • -  Gettysburg (Pa.)--Battle of, 1863
  • -  Manuscripts

Genre

  • Manuscripts

Notes

  • -  Reproduction number: A1 (color slide; detail of Longstreet's letter); A2 (color slide; entire page showing Longstreet's letter and copies of dispatches)
  • -  During the first three days of July 1863, Union and Confederate forces met in battle at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, an encounter that many historians consider the turning point in the Civil War. The culminating event of the battle was Pickett's Charge, the unsuccessful assault on the Union center ordered by Gen. Robert E. Lee (1807-1870) and executed by numerous troops, including an infantry division under the command of Gen. George E. Pickett (1825-1875). Preparations for the famous charge, which occurred on the battle's third day, included the traditional artillery barrage described in these documents. In a letter written on the field of battle, Gen. James Longstreet (1821-1904) informed Col. Edward P. Alexander (1835-1910), reserve artillery commander, of the intended Confederate advance, which he said would be dependent on Alexander's battery providing the necessary artillery support. Longstreet also ordered Alexander to advise General Pickett when to initiate the charge.
  • -  Having retained Longstreet's order, Alexander later mounted the item on a larger backing sheet and added to it copies of his battlefield dispatches to both Longstreet and Pickett, which depict the increasing urgency of the Confederate position. At 1:25 p.m., Alexander wrote to Pickett, "If you are to advance at all, you must come at once or we will not be able to support you as we ought . . . " Fifteen minutes later, the artillery commander wrote again to Pickett, "For God's sake come on quick or we cannot support you. Ammunition nearly out."
  • -  Although Pickett's name is associated with the failed charge, he did not command the attack, and his troops comprised only a portion of the advancing columns. He was responsible for forming the brigades involved in the charge and conducted himself honorably throughout the engagement. Still, history has treated him unfairly, and he will forever bear the onus of defeat.

Source Collection

  • Edward P. Alexander Papers

Repository

  • Manuscript Division

Online Format

  • pdf
  • image

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Cite This Item

Citations are generated automatically from bibliographic data as a convenience, and may not be complete or accurate.

Chicago citation style:

Letter, Gen. James Longstreet to Col. Edward P. Alexander; and copies of Alexander's battlefield dispatches to Longstreet and Gen. George E. Pickett during the battle of Gettysburg, 3 July. 3 July, 1863. Manuscript/Mixed Material. https://www.loc.gov/item/mcc.001/.

APA citation style:

(1863) Letter, Gen. James Longstreet to Col. Edward P. Alexander; and copies of Alexander's battlefield dispatches to Longstreet and Gen. George E. Pickett during the battle of Gettysburg, 3 July. 3 July. [Manuscript/Mixed Material] Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/mcc.001/.

MLA citation style:

Letter, Gen. James Longstreet to Col. Edward P. Alexander; and copies of Alexander's battlefield dispatches to Longstreet and Gen. George E. Pickett during the battle of Gettysburg, 3 July. 3 July, 1863. Manuscript/Mixed Material. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <www.loc.gov/item/mcc.001/>.