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Longstreet ceremony set Sunday on anniversary of general's death

POSTED: January 16, 2008 5:04 a.m.

Some 104 years after his funeral, Civil War re-enactors and others will gather Sunday at the grave site of Gen. James Longstreet.

The 13th annual memorial service for Longstreet will be held at 2 p.m. Sunday at his grave site in Alta Vista Cemetery. The Civil War general was buried on Jan. 6, 1904, just two days before his 83rd birthday, according to the Longstreet Society's Web site.

Joe Whitaker, treasurer of the Gainesville-based Longstreet Society, said Camp 1860, Blue Ridge Rifles of the Sons of the Confederacy in Dahlonega will fire a volley after the service using period firearms.

Special guests are to include at least one great-grandson of Longstreet and an author who has written a book about Longstreet, Whitaker said. After the service, an open house will be held at the historic Piedmont Hotel on Maple Street, which had been owned and operated by Longstreet until just before his death. The public is invited both to the service and the open house, Whitaker said.

Whitaker said the memorial service was started several years ago by Camp 1860.

"The camp in Dahlonega, they started and its just been a tradition to them," he said. "They are a little a different from some of the other SCV camps, they honor Gen. Longstreet just as much as they do Gen. (Robert E.) Lee and some of the others."

In the years after the war, Longstreet quickly fell out of favor, Whitaker said, looked down upon as a Republican and a friend of Union general Ulysses S. Grant.

The Confederate general was born Jan 8, 1821, near North Augusta in Edgefield District, S.C. A graduate of West Point, he fought and was wounded in the Mexican War. When the Civil War broke out, he resigned his commission and joined the Confederacy, rising to second-in-command of Lee's Army of Northern Virginia, according to the New Georgia Encyclopedia.

He moved to Gainesville in the years after the Civil War, Whitaker said, but may have intended to settle north of Cleveland with his uncle and a cousin to help with their plantation and gold mining operation.
Longstreet purchased a farm located near where the Green Street Pool currently is, and grew muscadines and scuppernongs, Whitaker said. Soon after buying the farm, Longstreet also purchase the Piedmont Hotel, which was unfinished at that time.

Longstreet's son, John Garland Longstreet, helped him manage the hotel and was one of the architects who designed buildings at Brenau University. Guests at the hotel included President Woodrow Wilson; one of his daughters was born there.

Whitaker said only part of the old hotel, which used to stand three stories tall, remains standing today.



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