Virtual Tour Stop, Longstreet's Wounding
The arrival of Longstreet's Corps stabilized the situation in the Tapp Field. The Confederates then learned that an unfinished railroad cut provided access to the Union flank and that it was unguarded. The Confederates re-positioned four brigades of Longstreet's Corps by moving them to the railroad cut. They advanced along the path through the dense woods and then turned and crashed into the Union flank. General Hancock admitted after the war to General Longstreet that "You rolled me up like a wet blanket."
Reacting to Longstreet's flanking effort along the unfinished railroad, Union General James Wadsworth attempted to wheel Rice's brigade into position to face the threat. A Confederate volley scattered the Union force and sent Wadsworth's horse galloping toward the Confederate line. The general gained control of his horse when it was within about twenty yards of the foe. It was too late. A bullet struck him in the back of the head, "his brains spattering the coat. . .[of an] aide at his side."
Union General James Wadsworth was a member of a extremely wealthy and highly influential New York family. Wadsworth's grandson, a Congressman, erected this monument in 1936. It is slightly west of the spot where Wadsworth was shot.
The 12th Virginia was part of Longstreet's flanking force advancing perpendicular to the Orange Plank Road. As the troops approached the road, they ran into a small forest fire. Members of the right of the unit went around the right end of the fire, crossed the road and entered the woods. The left portion of the regiment went to the left of the fire and stopped before reaching the road. When the right portion realized they had left behind the rest of their command, they turned around and moved back toward the road. As they did so, the men of the left of the regiment saw soldiers approaching and opened fire, which drew a response.
Into this cross fire rode Generals Longstreet, Kershaw and Jenkins and their staffs. Micah Jenkins was mortally wounded. James Longstreet was struck in the lower part of the throat. Several staff officers were hit before Joseph Kershaw halted the shooting.
General James Longstreet was Lee's second in command. The wound was in the lower part of the throat and threatened his life. Little is known about Longstreet between the time of the wounding and his return to duty on October 19, 1864. Longstreet's absence from the army came at the critical time of the war - the spring and summer of 1864. Despite this wound, Longstreet lived until 1904, the last of the major players of the Civil War to die.
The often-compared woundings of "Stonewall" Jackson and James Longstreet have many similarities and differences. Both were mistakenly wounded by their own men while making flank attacks in an area known as the Wilderness. Longstreet was wounded one year and four days after Jackson was hit. While Longstreet was more seriously wounded, he lived for forty years; Jackson lived eight days. Jackson's staff and other eyewitnesses wrote in great deal about Jackson's wound and subsequent events culminating in his death. They placed a monument near the spot of the wounding. Longstreet's staff and other eyewitnesses wrote little of the event and almost nothing about what happened afterwards. They did not try to identify the site of the wounding or place a monument at or near the site. We know that Longstreet was wounded while on the Orange Plank Road. The tour stop is located at our park historian's best guess to where the shooting occurred.