The command structure of the Army of Northern Virginia was a blend of quarrelsome senior officers and a largely amateur staff. This unpromising group, however, built an army from scratch and held off the Army of the Potomac during four years of campaigning.
The men who ran the Army of Northern Virginia were all young and, for the most part, lacked first-hand military experience when war broke out. None of them, from the most junior aide-de-camp to a lieutenant general, had a knowledge of command before being thrust into running one of the largest armies ever raised on the American continent. Lee had been at various times a staff engineer, superintendent of the U.S. Military Academy, and second in command of a cavalry regiment. Longstreet was a paymaster. Jackson taught artillery tactics at the Virginia Military Institute (VMI). Hill worked in the U.S. Coast Survey. True, the senior Confederate officers tended to be graduates of some military school, ranging from the U.S. Military Academy, to the VMI, to one of the state military schools such as those in South Carolina and Georgia. True, they had largely seen combat as junior grade officers in the 1840s in the Mexican War and in campaigns against the Creeks and Seminoles in Florida. But to the business of high command they were all novices.
At the top were Lee's immediate subordinates, his corps commanders. I Corps was commanded by James Longstreet, known by old friends as “Pete, ” a childhood nickname. He was rapidly taken into Lee's confidence, the commanding general writing Richmond only four days after meeting him for the first time, “Longstreet is a Capital soldier. His recommendations hitherto have been good, & I have