Skip to main content
Go to accessibility notice


    General James Longstreet writes to his former commander, General Joseph E. Johnston

    Confederate General James Longstreet War-Dated Autograph Letter Signed "J Longstreet." Four pages of a bifolium, 5.25" x 8.25", "Camp near Winchester," October 5, 1862. Two and a half weeks before writing this letter, Longstreet and the Army of Northern Virginia were locked in ferocious combat at the Battle of Antietam. Having retreated back into the relative safety of Virginia, Longstreet wrote this letter to his friend, Gen. Joseph E. Johnston, whose wounding at the Battle of Seven Pines four months earlier had caused Confederate President Jefferson Davis to remove Johnston as commander of the Army of Northern Virginia and appoint Gen. Robert E. Lee in his stead. In it, Longstreet thanks him for his letter and laments that Johnston is being sent to command the Department of the West, in part:

    "I was much gratified at having a letter from you, and particularly so at receiving the photograph. It has revived a good deal of the old enthusiasm that your old Army has always had at the sight or thought of you. Although they have fought many battles and successfully under another leader, I feel that you have their hearts more decidedly than any other leader can ever have. The men would now go wild at the sight of their old favorite. I can't become reconciled at the idea of your going west. I command the 1st Corps in this Army. If you will take it you are more than welcome to it, and I have no doubt but the command of the entire Army will fall to you before Spring. I am now thirty thousand strong and increasing very fast daily. It would do my heart a great deal of good to have one good talk with you, can't always write what we would like to say."

    Regarding the recent Maryland Campaign and the (tactically inconclusive) Battle of Antietam, Longstreet writes that they "got a nice lot of champagne in Maryland and cheap. Myself and staff thought of you and drank to you whenever we opened a bottle. But we have thought of you more seriously at other times. We are trying to shoe & clothe our men and scratch out the wrinkles from their stomachs caused by their short rations on apples and fresh beef . . . We are now beginning to feel like game cocks again, and some begin to wish for the chance to convince the Yankees that Sharpsburg is but a trifle to what they can do."

    Longstreet then reiterates his willingness to go west for Johnston, stating that it would "put me to no great inconvenience, on the contrary it will give me pleasure if I can relieve you of it. I fear that you ought not to go where you will be exposed to the hardships that you will meet with out there. I am yet entirely sound and believe that I can endure anything."

    Separation along the folds has been expertly repaired with archival tissue and the text remains entirely legible. Minor paper loss is found near the lower edge of pages three and four and touches the final "et" of Longstreet's signature. Light toning in places along the folds; page four is moderately toned throughout. Small spot of staining at the lower right corner of page three.

    Longstreet was promoted to lieutenant general four days after writing this letter.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    June, 2015
    12th-13th Friday-Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 4
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 761

    Buyer's Premium per Lot:
    25% on the first $100,000 (minimum $14), plus 20% of any amount between $100,000 and $1,000,000, plus 12% of any amount over $1,000,000 per lot.

    Sold on Jun 12, 2015 for: Sign-in or Join (free & quick)
    Track Item

    Heritage membership

    Join Now - It's Free

    1. Past Auction Values (prices, photos, full descriptions, etc.)
    2. Bid online
    3. Free Collector newsletter
    4. Want List with instant e-mail notifications
    5. Reduced auction commissions when you resell your
    Consign now
    • Cash Advances
    • More Bidders
    • Trusted Experts
    • Over 200,000 Satisfied Consignors Since 1976
    Consign to the 2021 November 7 Guitars and Musical Instruments Signature Auction.

    Learn about consigning with us

    Thanks a million for getting approval to sell my Civil War Hospital Death Ledger! You made them AND ME , a nice profit. You are the best!
    Ed W.,
    Mount Vernon, OH
    View More Testimonials receives more traffic than any other auction house website. (Source:

    Video tutorial

    Getting the most out of search