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CONFLICT IN EAST TENNESSEE: GENERALS LAW, JENKINS, AND LONGSTREET Guy R. Swanson Timothy D. Johnson WARTIME RIVALRIES AMONG American military commanders are familiar. During the Revolutionary War Generals George Washington and Horatio Gates had their differences, while during World War II cliques surrounded Generals Dwight D. Eisenhower and Douglas MacArthur. The Civil War is no exception. Officers on both sides were often at odds, and this circumstance was especially unfortunate for the Confederate army. Throughout the war the Confederacy faced an enemy of superior numbers and strength, and internal disunity in its military forces undoubtedly contributed to defeat. The career of General Evander Mclvor Law, a capable and vigorous brigade commander, illustrates these difficulties faced by the Southern army. Law was born on August 7, 1836, in Darlington, South Carolina, attended public schools, and graduated from the South Carolina Military Academy in 1856. During the next five years Law was a teacher and helped found a military high school in Tuskegee, Alabama, in 1860. After hostilities between North and South began in spring 1861, Law raised troops and served as colonel of the Fourth Alabama Regiment. He was wounded at First Manassas, but recovered to fight in the major battles through Sharpsburg. Promoted to brigadier general on October 3, 1862, Law served with Lieutenant General John Bell Hood's division (in General James Longstreet's corps) at Gettysburg. In late summer 1863 Longstreet's corps was detached from the Army of Northern Virginia for service with General Braxton Bragg's Army of Tennessee. Longstreet's corps participated in the September victory at Chickamauga and remained in and near East Tennessee until spring 1864. Strangely, the Army of Tennessee failed to capitalize on the Chickamauga victory and, as military advantages shifted to the Union army, tension developed between Bragg and Longstreet. In December 1863 the command disrupThe authors thank Professor Grady McWhiney of Texas Christian University and Pamela Franklin of The University of Alabama for their assistance during the preparation of this article. 102CIVIL WAR HISTORY tion, coupled with military setbacks, prompted Longstreet to bring charges against Law and two other subordinates.1 The dissention in East Tennessee began to take root in July 1863 during the Battle of Gettysburg. Early on July 2, General Robert E. Lee and his officers were discussing a battle plan with emphasis on the two Round Tops. The plan called for an oblique assault north of the Round Tops to ensure access to Cemetery Ridge from its lowest point, with the Confederates hoping to drive the Federals off the slope. Longstreet interrupted and suggested an alternative action. Lee tactfully dismissed the idea. Longstreet became angry and later that morning was slow in coordinating the troops he used in the attack. Lee chided Longstreet for the delay but knew that his subordinate was always well prepared for battle. Longstreet had also requested additional troop support and was waiting for General Law's brigade to arrive from the Pennsylvania countryside . Law received his marching orders at three o'clock that morning and his troops traveled twenty-eight miles before reaching the battlefield just after noon.2 As the battle raged, Law temporarily became division commander when Hood received a severe arm wound and was taken from the field. During the remainder of the Gettysburg campaign Law gained valuable command experience, and Hood's division fought superbly. Longstreet, however, criticized Law's efforts and remarked that Hood's "wellseasoned troops were not in need of a close guiding hand."3 After the Gettysburg defeat Confederate leaders reorganized their armies, sending Longstreet's corps to support Bragg's army in Tennessee. Longstreet wartted additional and capable troops to accompany him and arranged to transfer General Micah Jenkins's brigade, which had a reputation for aggressive fighting. As Longstreet conferred with President Jefferson Davis and Lee, the convalescing John Bell Hood volunteered to assume active division command and avert a potential struggle between Law and Jenkins. Law had commanded Hood's division at Get- 'For biographical sketches of Evander Mclvor Law and James Longstreet, see Ezra J. Warner, ed., Generals in Gray: Lives of the Confederate Commanders (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State Univ. Press, 1959), 174-75, 192-93; Jon L...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1533-6271
Print ISSN
0009-8078
Pages
pp. 101-110
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-04
Open Access
No
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