Love it or hate it, one of the most known statues on the Gettysburg battlefield, is also one of the newest – that of Confederate Gen. James Longstreet.
Few would argue that the 1998 statue was long overdue. Commanding the First Corps of the Army of Northern Virginia, Longstreet played a crucial role in the battle, specifically on July 2 and 3rd when Confederates attacked the Union left at the Peach Orchard and Little Round Top, and at Pickett’s Charge. Longstreet’s role was highlighted in the epic movie, “Gettysburg”, just five years shy of his monument dedication.
The Longstreet Monument is tucked away in Pitzer’s Woods along West Confederate Avenue. A sign points visitors to the parking lot near the monument, located not far from the battlefield’s amphitheater.
Sculptor Gary Casteel explains the situation as an agreement between he and the Gettysburg National Military Park two years earlier as a matter of maintenance for a bronze monument perched high off the ground, and the fact that Casteel wanted the monument to be one in which he wanted “the general on the ground to be touched, loved and appreciated as one of us,” as he explained on CivilWarTalk.com.
He later argued that Longstreet should be lower than Lee, because Longstreet was below Lee in rank. Lee, of course, sits atop his horse Traveller on the Virginia Monument on the same road and dedicated 80 years earlier.
“I wanted to do something different, because Longstreet was different,” Casteel said in this videoon YouTube.
Some also question the size of Longstreet in comparison to his horse. There is a rumor that the horse is only 7/8 scale, while Longstreet is full-size. But what people enjoy most is the emotion and movement captured by Casteel in his brilliant work.
You can’t argue that a statue to Longstreet is a welcome addition to the Gettysburg battlefield. His vital role in the Confederate attacks are worth his weight in bronze.
The statue is located at Stop No. 6 on the Self-Guided Auto Tour on the Gettysburg National Military Park.
Longstreet’s monument is among 1,300 monuments and markers on the Gettysburg battlefield.
Each one is different and each is a work of art. Art, as we know, is all about interpretation.