Lessons in History Presentation “Longstreet – The Confederate General Who Defied the South” with Dr. Elizabeth R. Varon

Lessons in History Presentation “Longstreet – The Confederate General Who Defied the South” with Dr. Elizabeth R. Varon

Join us for our 2023 Lessons in History presentation with author Elizabeth R. Varon on December 9, 2023, 1:00 pm -2:00 pm. Ms. Varon will discuss her book, LONGSTREET – The Confederate General Who Defied the South.

Elizabeth Varon’s LONGSTREET is a bold new biography that tells the story of the most remarkable political about-face in American history. During the Civil War, General James Longstreet fought tenaciously for the Confederacy. He was alongside Lee at Gettysburg (and counseled him not to order the ill-fated attacks on entrenched Union forces there). He won a major Confederate victory at Chickamauga and was seriously wounded during a later battle. After the war, Longstreet moved to New Orleans, where he dramatically changed course. He supported Black voting and joined the newly elected, integrated postwar government in Louisiana. When white supremacists took up arms to oust that government, Longstreet, leading the interracial state militia, did battle against former Confederates. His defiance ignited a firestorm of controversy, as white Southerners branded him a race traitor and blamed him retroactively for the South’s defeat in the Civil War. Although he was one of the highest-ranking Confederate generals, Longstreet has never been commemorated with statues or other memorials in the South because of his postwar actions in rejecting the Lost Cause mythology and urging racial reconciliation.

LONGSTREET reintroduces Americans to one of the Civil War era’s best known, but least understood, figures. This is the first full biography in decades, and the first to give proper attention to Longstreet’s long post-Civil War political career. Longstreet’s unusual life illuminates both the transformative changes and the entrenched inequalities of the Civil War era. Longstreet is being rediscovered in the new age of racial reckoning. Varon, an acclaimed Civil War historian and author of the 2020 Gilder Lehrman Lincoln Prize-winning book, Armies of Deliverance, demonstrates that Longstreet’s controversial choices have enduring relevance for our modern debates over American history.


About the Author: Dr. Elizabeth R. Varon is Langbourne M. Williams professor of American history at the University of Virginia and a member of the executive council of UVA’s John L. Nau III Center for Civil War History. Varon’s books include Southern Lady, Yankee Spy: The True Story of Elizabeth Van Lew, A Union Agent in the Heart of the Confederacy, and Appomattox: Victory, Defeat and Freedom at the End of the Civil War. Her most recent book, Armies of Deliverance: A New History of the Civil War, won the 2020 Gilder Lehrman Lincoln Prize



The 2023 Lessons in History program is free to the public. Regular museum admission applies for entrance to the museum galleries. The National Civil War Museum will follow CDC and OSHA/HHS guidance as well as orders and recommendations from federal/state/local governments and our state and local health officials.

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