Tag Archives: James Longstreet

Longstreet’s Beard


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On this, the anniversary of the Pickett-Pettigrew assault, I offer you a few words on unsightly faux whiskers:

You know, sometimes things are just plain ridiculous. I mean……asinine. Case in point – Tom Berenger did a fair enough job playing Confederate General James Longstreet in the Film Gettysburg. But the beard….really?????

Whoever did the hair and makeup for this film should be tarred and feathered. Or at least, never allowed to work in the motion picture business. I have heard that wretched looking thing compared to squirrels, beavers, brooms, coon-skin caps, and any number of other things that all would look equally ridiculous glued to a man’s chin.

My God people, did anyone think this thing looked like a real beard? Couldn’t Berenger have just grown one? It would have been worth the time. It is really really distracting.

But here is another problem. To a whole lot of people, the film Gettysburg is what the  battle – and those whoScreen Shot 2014-07-03 at 11.29.36 AM took part in it – looked like. So now, to my horror, when people think of James Longstreet – many of them think of Tom Berenger as Longstreet.

Don’t believe me? Take a trip to the battlefield sometime. You will find a very odd (dedicated post Gettysburg) monument to – James “Tom Berenger” Longstreet – beard and all. The power of the motion picture is simply remarkable – despite the sometimes hideous use of fake facial hair.


With compliments,



The Americanist Independent: A Monthly Journal of United States History

Is There Any Other “Copse” of Trees?

Screen shot 2014-04-28 at 4.27.32 PMMention the copse to anyone with even a passing knowledge of the Civil War and that person will know precisely to what you are referring. The copse…or rather, Copse of Trees is of course the culminating point of Longstreet’s famed assault – known to most as Pickett’s Charge – on Cemetery Ridge at Gettysburg…what many believe was the turning point of the Civil War.

But why copse? Why not “patch” or “grove” or “thicket” or something like that? It seems that the word was selected for this particular growth of trees by historian/artist John B. Bachelder back in 1870 – in a book detailing a painting on the repulse of Longstreet’s Assault (at least that is the earliest reference that I am aware of). And the name stuck. As the Battle of Gettysburg ascended higher and higher again into American lore and legend, the copse became The Copse of mythic proportions.

So by my estimation, this little stand of trees has ruined the word for any other copses out there. That is all well and good, I suppose. I mean, no one really uses the word any more to refer to other trees…so what’s the trouble with having only one copse? Maybe other small groves of trees should go by the term “coppice.” It’s almost the same and such a reference won’t confuse any Civil War enthusiasts who happen to be nearby.

With compliments,