The crucial thing to remember that erecting the Longstreet statue at Gettysburg was the absolute opposite of the moonshine and magnolias of the Lost Cause. Longstreet was among the casualties of the Lost Cause. Jubal Early and his crew really had to destroy Longstreet's reputation The Lost Causers could not allow someone whose rank in the Confederate Armies was so high get away with advocating that the former Rebels accept that the rebel states had lost as well as accepting the consequences of that needed to be accepted. The movement to erect the statue never suggested that Longstreet be deified like the Virginians (Lee, Stuart, and Jackson) only that he be evaluated fairly and objectively.

Expand full comment

Just to be clear, I am not suggesting that James Longstreet deserves a statue. Mr. Groce is not suggesting such a thing either. What we are pointing out is that memory is constantly evolving and fluid. What we are now witnessing is a natural extension of public memory.

Expand full comment

Particularly excellent post - any chance of it being published more widely?

Agree about the statue. The poor man didn't even get a plinth.

The Guardian newpaper review of the Gettysburg movie suggested that, in view of all the facial hair, it be renamed Gettysbeard.

Expand full comment

I concur (except I like the Longstreet statue!).

Expand full comment

I'd rather have no monument than be portrayed as a hobbit on a pony off to fight Smaug.

Expand full comment


You hit the nail on the head. Longstreet deserves so much more praise than that given to others. I completely agree that his statue should grace the U.S. Capitol rather than John Gordon. I do like the manner that he was treated in “The Killer Angels” and “Gettysburg”, which is probably the reason that he now has a statue on that battlefield, albeit nowhere near the size and stature of Lee’s, and practically hidden on the back side of Seminary Ridge by the Boy Scout campground.

I think that we really need to look at the totality of a person’s life to determine if he or she should be memorialized. Longstreet was demonized by Jubal Early and the UDC in their twisting of history. His attempt in New Orleans to resist the White League attack on the Reconstruction government was part of that, his criticism of Lee, and his conversion to Roman Catholicism others. I think that it is fascinating that he is one of the few defenders of Dan Sickles, what an odd couple.

Anyway, great post. All the best.


Expand full comment