13 March 1864: “Genl Longstreet is playing a very bold game…”

Item description: Letter, dated 13 March 1864, from John Edwards to W. R. McLaws relating details of the court martial of Major General Lafayette McLaws.  McLaws stood trial for his actions during the 1863 battles surrounding Knoxville, Tennessee, including failure to cooperate with General Longstreet.

[transcription available below images]

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Item citation: From folder 10 in the Lafayette McLaws Papers, #472, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Item transcription:

Greenville East Tenn.

March 13th 1864

W. R. McLaws Esq.

[D. Sir?]

The General’s case has commenced and up to the adjournment of the court on yesterday (Saturday) two of the most important witnesses for the prosecution had been examined, [Maj.?] Col. E. P. Alexander & Dr. Cullen.  The former testified that he was chf. of arty. for Longstreet and Meade the reconnoizance upon which was made he stated that he reported to Genl Longstreet that in his judgement there was no ditch around the fort, and he also stated that the subject of ladders or fascias was never was never mentioned as it was then the impression such things would not be necessary to carry the fort. After this testimony was taken Genl Benning expressed himself perfectly satisfied as to the result of the case it was intended by the prosicution that this testimony should have a [baring?] on that part of the specifications referring to ladders fascius or other means of crossing the ditch. In an other part of the specifications the Genl is charged for not informing his officers that the ditch on the west side of the fort offered bu t a slight obsticle to his troops entering the fort. this was to have been sustained by Dr. Cullen.  I was present when his testimony was taken he testified that the ditch on the west side on of the fort was from 8 to 10 feet deep and as many wide he also stated the ditch at the point when the assault was made offered the least obstacle than at any part of the work.  You will see that two of the specifications of the chgs. have been killed by the first two witnesses examined for the prosecution the other specifications I think can be easily despensed with at any rate any way the Genl is in very fine spirits.  Genl Longstreet is playing a very bold game and I am inclined to think he will step up before he goes much further. Since I saw you he has arrested Brig Genl Law and I presume will not stop until he arrest Brig Genl Benning. After you left I called to Sec. Genl Bragg.  I was kindly received and he explained himself in such a manner that convinced me he was true friend of Genl McLaws.  As soon as the court was ordered to convene again Genl Longstreet starts for Richmond and is still absent.  Rumors state that Beauregard is to take command of this [Dpt?] if so parties holding Longstreet stock with smash up.  Say to all of the Generals friends that this trial will be the making of him. on receipt of this write to Aunt Emmy and Maj McLaws.  present my kindest regards to your family

Yours truly

John [F.?] Edwards

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