Honor of Disgraced Confederate General Is Restored
The mounted statues at Gettysburg tell a story of the battle; their raised hooves indicate the fate of the rider.
One hoof off the ground means the soldier was wounded in the July 1863 Civil War battle; two raised hooves signifies death in action.
With the unveiling Friday of a monument to Confederate Lt. Gen. James Longstreet, a disgraced Southern hero has been redeemed.
The mounted statue of Longstreet shows the native South Carolinian astride a turning horse with one lifted hoof, which would indicate he was a casualty in the pivotal three-day battle.
In reality, he was not hurt on the field. Longstreet’s wounding--figurative, brutal and enduring--came after the war at the hands of his former comrades in arms. Some of Lee’s other generals led the criticism, blaming Longstreet for the loss of the battle and, by extension, the war.
His honor has been restored 135 years later.
“It’s very thrilling,” said a granddaughter of the general, Jamie Longstreet Paterson of Bowie, Md. “I’m very happy they finally decided to do something about General Longstreet because he’s been ignored for so many years.”
A seven-year effort, led by North Carolina members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, resulted in the 1 1/2-ton bronze likeness of the man Confederate commander Robert E. Lee called “my old war horse.”
Longstreet was Lee’s second-in-command and a close confidant throughout the war, said historian William Garrett Piston.
After the war, Lee “became a Southern god. He became a perfect man,” Piston said. “But if you turn Robert E. Lee into a god . . . then could the South have lost? You need a Judas figure. You need a scapegoat.”
Longstreet fit the part because of his temerity in publicly criticizing Lee and what was viewed by many as treachery when he worked toward reconciliation with the federal government, Piston said.