"THE SPEECH ON GEN. GRANT'S LAST ANNIVERSARY DELIVERED AT BOSTON MAY MEET YOUR WISHES": ORIGINAL SIGNED AUTOGRAPH LETTER FROM JAMES LONGSTREET TO SCHOOLMASTER ALBERT L. BACHELLER DECLINING TO WRITE A NEW SPEECH AND OFFERING TO SEND A COPY OF THE SPEECH HE DELIVERED ON THE MOST RECENT ANNIVERSARY OF GRANT'S DEATH, WITH MANUSCRIPT SPEECH IN A SECRETARIAL HAND
LONGSTREET, James. Autograph letter signed. WITH: Manuscript speech. Gainesville, Georgia, January 21, 1897. Single sheet of lined paper, measuring 5 by 8 inches; p.1. WITH: Five sheets of lined paper, measuring 7-3/4 by 7 inches to 7-3/4 by 11-1/2 inches; pp. 5. $3500.
Original autograph letter signed, dated 1897, from General Longstreet to a New England schoolmaster stating that he is too ill to fulfill the request to write a new speech, but is willing to offer a speech delivered on the recent anniversary of General Grant's death instead, accompanied by a manuscript copy of that speech in a secretarial hand.
The letter, dated "Jany 21st 1897" and written entirely in Longstreet's hand, reads: "My Dear Sir, Your favor of the 13st instant is received and duly considered. At present, I am under treatment of my Doctor, and am in doubt if I can find the opportunity to write as you would like. The speech on Gen. Gran's last anniversary delivered at Boston may meet your wishes. I am Very Truly Yours, James Longstreet." The letter was addressed to A.L. Bacheller, Esq. of Lowell Massachusetts, the master of a private school. Bacheller had a notable interest in the events of the Civil War and some of his correspondence to famous contemporaries regarding Lincoln is maintained in UC Santa Barbara's special collections.
The requested speech would likely also have been about Lincoln. Instead, the included manuscript speech in a secretarial hand includes in-depth details of the Battle of Knoxville and reads, in full: "In the winter of 1863 the Confederate Army under my command laid siege to Knoxville, Tenn. The Union forces in the beleaguered city being under the command of General Burnsides, who assaulted by lines at Fredericksburg in 1862. Around Knoxville all day long, and day after day, could be heard the constant and heavy cannonading, mingled with the incessant musketry fire, showing the Blue and Gray with artillery and infantry were battling for their convictions (as they understood them), while on the outskirts now and then the fierce ring and clatter of sabres and the zip, zip, zip of the deadly carbines showed that the cavalrymen of both armies were not idle. Yet after night-fall a holy, solemn hush, as of God's benediction, fell upon the two opposing forces, and soon the stillness of night was gently broken on Armstrong Hill by my Headquarters band playing the 'Star-Spangles Banner,' which, at its conclusion was answered by General Burnsides headquarters band playing the 'Bonnie Blue Flag,' to which my band responded with 'Yankee Doodle,' then from Gen. Burnsides came 'Dixie,' and my musicians replied with 'Hail Columbia,' and to close the serenades the two bands played first a sacred piece and both wound up the evening's entertainment by jointly and in perfect time playing 'Home, Sweet Home.' During these evening concerts it would have been easy for my men to have killed General Burnsides, and vice versa, but any soldier who would have been guilty of any panic faith on these occasions would have been violently dealt with; and when the last beautiful strains of 'Home, Sweet Home' were wafted from the two bands upon the evening air, strong men showed pallid cheeks and tearful eyes that on the 'morrow were unblaunched and stern when breasting the storm of Shrieking Shell and Splashing Shrapnel. If recent publications be true, in the closing days around Petersburg, when General Lee ordered me to re-establish his broken line, Captain Robert T. Lincoln of Gen. Grant's staff was with a detachment of Union troops that pressed close up to General Lee's headquarters, as I took part of General Benning's brigade and checked the Federal advance for a short while; and here with my men we protected Gen. lee from capture and had a severe engagement with the opposing forces.—Only thirty years from that time have elapsed, and in November 1896, I would be delighted to see the re-united American people place in the White House that gallant young Union officer, who pressed up so close to General Lee's tent, and rode hard on our heels to Farmville, Amelia Court-House, Sailor's Creek and Appomattox. This certainly demonstrates a sentiment of loyalty to one country and one flag, and a revival of the era of good feeling.—When politicians, from sinister motives, would precipitate a crisis, which appeals to our sectional prejudices, let us rekindle our patriotism by going back to the scenes in which the great, good men took part who framed the Constitution, and we shall learn from them to deal kindly and considerately with each other as members of the same great family, and to cherish a patriotism broad enough to embrace our whole country. All of us—North and South—should be proud of New England, her varied civilization and —— industry, and glory with sufferings and virtues of the Pilgrim Fathers and gather with her sons at Plymouth Rock to recall the Mayflower with its precious freight, and we should be equally proud of Jamestown and cherish the memory of that noble band, who, in the face of every discouragement and danger, planted a stable colony upon this virgin land, where years later first went up the heroic cry, 'the cause of Boston is the cause of all,' showing how warmly the Southerner sympathized with his Northern brother in the determination to resist foreign aggressions. I rejoice in the eloquence of Everett, lift my hat to Warren's form perpetuated in marble and in fancy visit the tomb of Webster at marshfield, where the sea rolls its sublime diapason, as if it lamented the departed statement, and in the same spirit I honor the illustrious men of the South, and in thought wander along the banks of the Potomac, where the foremost man of the world sleeps his last—— slumber. This spirit finds expression in General Grant's 'Personal Memoirs,' where, in the concluding two pages of the last volume, he makes a pathetic appeal to his fellow countrymen to banish all the passions of our late war, cease all criminations and re-criminations, and be harmonious people; and my hope and prayer are that the beautiful sentiments of the dying warrior upon Mount MacGregor may permeate every gathering and pulsate through every speech upon Memorial day, and touch a responsive cloud in all hearts as they strew flowers upon the graves of the soldier dead, Confederate and Federal, 'Rest on, embalmed and sainted dead, Dear as the blood ye gave, No impious footsteps here shall tread, the herbage of your grave.' An in this spirit I hope to be in Chicago to-day, where with Abraham Lincoln's sow, and with the G. A.R. Posts and Confederate Encampment I trust to participate in rendering appropriate tribute to both the heroic Union dead and the gallant companions-in-arms of mine, who died while prisoners at Fort Douglas. Very Respectfully Yours for one country and one flag, James Longstreet."