After the naming of the Confederacy’s eastern theatre army as the Army of Northern Virginia, Robert E. Lee commanding, many distinguished generals served with it. In its first major battles, (Second Manassas, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville), it was organized in two corps commanded by Longstreet and Jackson. After Jackson’s death, the army was reorganized in three corps; Longstreet, Ewell, and Hill. The cavalry was later organized into a corps of its own, under Stuart. In the last gasps of the Confederacy, minor corps the sizes of divisions (or smaller) were organized (Gordon’s, Anderson’s). The men listed below are Lee and his chief lieutenants. These are the men who foiled Union general after general and kept the war going for as long as it did, against “overwhelming numbers and resources.”
General Robert Edward Lee (“Marse Robert”)
Born Jan. 19, 1807, Died Sept. 12, 1870
Low point in career: On July 3, 1863, on the third day of the Battle of Gettysburg, he ordered Pickett’s Charge.
Random fact: He was the most feared man by the Federals and the most beloved man by the Confederates. His horse, Traveller, is almost as famous as Lee himself.
Quote: “It is well that war is so terrible, otherwise, we would grow too fond of it.”
Strategy: Was excellent both attacking or defending, but became more defensive after the defeat at Gettysburg.
Lieutenant General Thomas Jonathan Jackson (“Stonewall”, “Old Blue Light”)
Born Jan. 21, 1824, Died May 10, 1864 (after wounds sustained at the Battle of Chancellorsville)
Perks: Sucked lemons repeatedly in battle.
Low pointing career: None really, but he did lose a minor engagement at Kernstown in the Valley Campaign.
Last words: “Order A. P. Hill to prepare for action…Let us cross the river and rest under the shade of the trees.”
Strategy: March, march, outflank.
Lieutenant General James Longstreet (“Old Pete”, “Old Blue Eyes”)
Born Jan. 8, 1821, Died Jan. 2, 1904
Quote: “No fifteen thousand men ever arrayed for battle can take that hill (Cemetery Ridge, target of Pickett’s Charge)”
Perks: Very moody (after the deaths of his children), stubborn, blunt. Turned Republican after the war, to make all the ex-CSA veterans dislike him.
Random fact: Lee referred to Longstreet as his “old war horse.”
Low point in career: Turning Republican after the war ended.
Strategy: Crouch behind the wall and shoot at the enemy.
Lieutenant General Ambrose Powell Hill (“Little Powell”)
Born Nov. 9, 1825, Died April 2, 1865 (at Petersburg Trenches 7 days before Lee surrendered)
Perks: Liked to wear a red battle shirt when fighting.
Random fact: His name was on the dying lips of both Lee and Jackson.
Low point in career: His faulty judgement almost lost the Battle of Fredericksburg. He left a huge gap in his line which was only barely patched up by Jubal Early’s troops.
Strategy: Never had a chance to be decisive because he was always sick.
Lieutenant General Richard Stoddert Ewell (“Old Baldy”)
Born Feb. 8, 1817, Died Jan. 25, 1872
Perks: He was a perk. He giggled, had a wooden leg, and was “bald as an egg.”
Random fact: Married just before the Battle of Gettysburg, his first battle after losing a leg at Second Manassas.
Low points of career: At Gettysburg, he became indecisive and became a major factor in the southern defeat. Also, at the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House, he carelessly encamped his corps in a salient, later called the Mule Shoe. Grant’s army concentrated on attacking this salient and Ewell’s II Corps took numerous casualties.
Strategy: Ask a subordinate and giggle!
Major General James Ewell Brown “Jeb” Stuart
Born Feb. 6, 1833, Died May 12, 1864 (of wounds suffered at Yellow Tavern)
Low point of career: In the Gettysburg Campaign, he failed to provide Lee with scouting information.
Perks: Seemed to enjoy “joyriding”. He loved to make rides around the Union army. Also, he loved to hear stories about his exploits.
Strategy: Ride around and around and swing your saber at the enemy.
By the time Lee surrendered at Appomattox, his army had crumbled to pieces. Of his 5 lieutenants above, only one remained, Longstreet. Jackson, Stuart, and Hill were dead; Ewell was captured. The men who led the Army of Northern Virginia were no more, but their exploits still live on in writeups like this.