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War Horses and Equestrian Spirits: Grant and Longstreet Revisited, by Nicholas Hollis.
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Longstreet's conversion to Republicanism in opposition to many former comrades ensured his personal vilification in what later became one of this nation's worst public scapegoatings. In 1872, conveniently after Lee's death, a group of lesser Confederate officers falsely accused Longstreet of disobeying orders and losing the Battle of Gettysburg (and by extension, the war itself).
Grant took three of his favorite war horses to the White House and dreamed
Unlike the Lost Cause historians and romantics who fictionalized much of the war and later inspired "Gone With the Wind," Longstreet spoke with firsthand knowledge and a warrior's perspective of Grant's many virtues as a leader. His stories included anecdotes dating back to exploits in the Mexican War, laced with Grant's legendary equestrian feats and records, some of which still stood at West Point. For a country still searching for details on their favorite hero--Grant, Old Pete's words provided powerful tonic.
Although Lee's "Old War Horse" continued to extol his friend Sam Grant, the nation's wounds had not healed when he met his own end in early 1904. A front-page New York Times headline called Longstreet "the War Horse of the Confederacy," and President Theodore Roosevelt, an accomplished "Rough Rider" equestrian himself, called Longstreet
Anniversary periods such as the Civil War sesquicentennial provide rare opportunities to refocus on events, personalities, and interactions of history, producing new insights on actions long overlooked or obscured by earlier exigencies of political correctness. As part of our national commemoration, the General Longstreet Recognition Project has prepared two articles and video on the friendship between Grant and Longstreet.
The key to their early bond may well have been a mutual respect for equestrian prowess and spirit. But even today much a this bond between the horse whisperer (Grant) and the war horse (Longstreet) remains shrouded in ruins of time, between the lines of the respect each shared for the other's privacy as old soldiers and friends.
These two silent men of destiny were truly among our nation's great leaders.
Old warriors turned peacemakers and statesmen. I fervently hope that during this sesquicentennial period their friendship will again be illuminated to testify to their significant contributions to building our nation and the considerable work that remains to be done.
Nicholas E. Hollis is president of The Agribusiness Council, a nonprofit organization that sponsors the General Longstreet Recognition Project and other programs within its Heritage Preservation Committee.