Monday, June 11, 2012

June 12, 1862 (Thursday): Longstreet, D.H. Hill, and Picket Duty

General James Longstreet

HEADQUARTERS, June 12, 1862. 

Major General D. H. HILL,
Commanding Division:
    GENERAL: Yours of this morning is received. If you think that the Twenty-third North Carolina and Thirty-eighth Virginia deserve "Williamsburg" I think so too. My own impressions were taken from what I heard, not what I saw. I did not therefore venture an opinion on the subject.
    I would like to compare rear guard and picket service with you. However, that has nothing to do with the question. My division has been put back as the reserve, and I do not think that I have the right to use it without the authority of the general. It is not the place that I ever expected my command to occupy, and should never have thought of seeking it. I don't think that I have ever complained of having more to do than any one else, but am entirely willing to compare with any other troops. I have had the same troops for a year. No one has been ahead of me in moving to the front since Manassas. Our travel has been on foot wherever we have gone, except from Richmond to Yorktown. I was rear guard from Falls Church to Fairfax Court-House; again from Fairfax Court-House to Centreville; again from Centreville to Culpeper Court-House; again from Yorktown.
    Picket duty every one has had to do, and I presume that I have done more of it than any other person, as I have been months at a time in advance of every one else-just after Manassas up to October.
    Very respectfully, &c.,


Official Records, Series I., Vol. 11, Part 3, Page 596.

Longstreet and Hill had been in discussion as to which regiments deserved to attach "Williamsburg" to their battle flags.  Longstreet was of the opinion that no regiment forced from the battlefield should receive the inscription, implying the 23rd NC and 38th Virginia did not.  Although he ultimately agreed with Hill they did, the two quarrelsome generals ended up in a protracted discussion regarding picket duty.  Longstreet used the excuse his troops were part of the army reserve and he did not have authority to volunteer to relieve Hill's from such duty.  Along the way he displayed the inflated opinion of himself which would so characterize his post war memoirs. 

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