Thursday, December 21, 2017

Top 2017 posts: Lot of 'Old Pete,' a little of 'Old Snapping Turtle'

During his 1888 visit to Gettysburg, James Longstreet stood for a photograph with his
 former adversaries, including  Henry Slocum (left).
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As the year winds down, it's time to reveal the five most popular posts on my blog in 2017. If I had known years ago what I know now, I'd have written much more about James Longstreet. "Old Pete" is a popular fella. Thanks for reading. (Traffic figures as of Dec. 21, 2017, 6:30 p.m. ET.)

1. 'NO MAN ... MORE HONORED', Jan. 2, (52,593 page views):  A "vigorous" James Longstreet, sporting massive, gray whiskers and a cleanly shaven chin, attended a huge reunion of veterans in Gettysburg in late June and early July 1888, the 25th anniversary of the battle. For the 67-year-old former Confederate lieutenant general, the emotional visit was his first return to the area since the great battle. Longstreet, "his big broad-chested body ... straight and strong," was joined in the Pennsylvania town by an estimated 30,000 Union veterans and some of the more notable officers of the Civil War. Read more.

2. A VISIT TO MODEST GRAVE OF GEORGE MEADE, Feb. 22, (19,298 page views):  On a gentle slope 100 feet above the Schuylkill River, the body of former Army of the Potomac commander George Meade, the "hero of Gettysburg," rests under a modest gravestone. In eternity, Meade -- nicknamed "Old Snapping Turtle" by some of his detractors -- has plenty of army company: the remains of 40 other Union generals and Confederate General John Pemberton also are buried in Philadelphia's historic Laurel Hill Cemetery, once located in a rural setting but now in a dense, urban area. Read more.

3. 'THE FIGHTING LADY', Jan. 7,  (12,917 page views): On Sept. 8, 1897, James Longstreet and Helen Dortch -- described as "pretty, piquant and sympathetic," with blue eyes, blond hair and fair skin -- exchanged vows in the parlor at the governor's executive mansion in Atlanta. Among those in attendance were a large group of Longstreet's friends and the general's four sons and daughter. "They all warmly congratulated their new stepmother," an account noted, "which should dispose of the story that there was any friction because of the marriage." Fiercely protective of her husband's legacy, Helen led quite a life of her own.   Read more.

4. 'HIS WHOLE FACE WAS SHOT AWAY': Sept. 3, (10,439 page views): Within a year of his regiment's ill-fated charge at Fredericksburg, Oliver Dart Jr. faced another great trial: a sitting for a photograph at a studio in Hartford, Conn. The resulting carte-de-visite, found in the 14th Connecticut veteran's pension file in the National Archives, is difficult to view. Bundled in a  coat, the blue-eyed veteran with black hair and thick eyebrows stared at the photographer. A mangled jaw, mouth and nose  are obvious. Read more.

5. FORGOTTEN NO MORE: April 1,  (9.930 page views): The cold, gray mist hangs heavy as a Southern visitor walks slowly among gray, damp tombstones while searching for a special grave at an upstate New York cemetery. But the task frustrates as the burial site cannot be found and there is no one about in the lonely graveyard to assist in the hunt. One last scan, the stranger concludes. He then looks up high upon a badly eroded hillside and spots a small tombstone for Lt. Henry C. Cutler, the first soldier to die during the Gettysburg Campaign. A guest post by Clark B. Hall. Read more.

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