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Pickett's Charge, Gettysburg

(1863)

Pickett's Charge was one of the major events of the Battle of Gettysburg. It occurred on July 3, the third day of the Battle of Gettysburg. Three Confederate divisions from the Army of Northern Virginia with about 12500 men took part in the charge, which failed badly with the Confederate Army suffered over 7000 killed, wounded and missing. In contrast, the Union losses were less than 2000. Its failure forced the Confederate Army to withdrew from Pennsylvania and the invasion of North. The Confederate Army was only "one victory away" from winning the Civil War, in fact, General Robert E. Lee had a letter with him, to be delievered to Lincoln in the event of victory on the Union soil. The defeats at Gettyburg and Vicksburg on the same day were the beginning of the end for Confederate States of American (see the store "July 4 - The day that doomed the Confederate".)

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The Copse of Tree
The Copse of Tree
The famous Copse of Tree, the target of Pickett's Charge.
Pickett Charge's Start point.
Pickett Charge's Start point.
The starting point of Pickett's Charge, their target, the copse of tree is in line with right edge of the plaque.
Picketts Charge, the Open Field
Picketts Charge, the Open Field
The open field where Picketts Charge took place. The view is front behind the stone wall, which marks the Union position.
Gettysburg Battlefield -The Angle
Gettysburg Battlefield -The Angle
The Angle where Pickett's Charge made a brief breakthrough, but was replused.
Virginia Memorial to her brave soldiers
Virginia Memorial to her brave soldiers
Virginia's Memorial to her brave soldiers who took part in Packett's Charge. The status General Robert E. Lee is on the top.
Closeup of Virginia Memorial
Closeup of Virginia Memorial
Close of of Virginia's Memorial to her brave soldiers who took part in Packett's Charge.
Union Soldiers
Union Soldiers
Reenactors of Union soldiers near the Angle in Gettysburg Battlefield.
Union Soldiers
Union Soldiers
A company of Union soldier demonstration the firing of muskets at the base of Culp Hill on the Gettysburg Battlefield.
North Carolina memorial
North Carolina memorial
North Carolina's memorial to her brave men who took part in Pickett's Charge. Most of men in the Charge are from North Carolina.
Lewis Armistead
Lewis Armistead
The spot where the Brig. General Lewis Armistead from Pickett's Divison fell here in the Angle. Ironically, his uncle was the commander of Fort McHenry during the British Bombardment.
General Robert E. Lee
General Robert E. Lee
Virginia's Memorial to her brave soldiers who took part in Packett's Charge. The status General Robert E. Lee is on the top.
Copse Of Tree
Copse Of Tree
The Copse of Tree from the open field, and this would be the view for Pickett's men.
North Carolina Plaque
North Carolina Plaque
A plaque erected by North Carolina describing the braves deeds of her men.
A plaque at Soldier Cemetary showing the Address
A plaque at Soldier Cemetary showing the Address
Due to the slowness of the photographer in setting his camera and the shortness of the speech. The photographer finally caught image of Lincoln as he was sitting down.
Unknown Bodies
Unknown Bodies
A mass grave at Soldier's National Cememtary in Gettysburg showing the high cost of the Battle.
Soldier Memorial
Soldier Memorial
The Soldier Memorial in the Soldier's National Cemetery, it is over the site of Lincoln's Gettysburg Address. Note each square stone marker marks grave of an unknown Union Soldier.
Address Plaque
Address Plaque
A memorial to the Gettysburg Address at Soldier's National Cemetery.
Soldier National Cemetery
Soldier National Cemetery
A plaque at Soldier's National Cemetery giving a history of the Cemetery. Only Union dead are buried here
Plaque to Gettysburg Address
Plaque to Gettysburg Address
A plaque at Gettysburg pointing to the site of Gettysburg Address
The Tomb of General Robert E.Lee
The Tomb of General Robert E.Lee
The tomb of General Robert E. Lee at Lee's Chapel in Lexington, Virginia.
The Tomb of General Robert E. Lee
The Tomb of General Robert E. Lee
The tomb of General Robert E. Lee at Lee's Chapel in Lexington, Virginia.
Lee's Chapel where of the body of Robert E. Lee was interred
Lee's Chapel where of the body of Robert E. Lee was interred
Lee's Chapel in Lexington, Virginia, it was the final resting place of General Robert Edward Lee, who was the president of Washington and Lee college until his death in 1876.
George Pickett
George Pickett
An old picture of Major General George A. Pickett
Major General Phil Sheridan
Major General Phil Sheridan
old picture of General Phil Sheridan, one of the most aggressive Union General.
Pennsylvania Monument at Gettysburg
Pennsylvania Monument at Gettysburg
Pennsylvania Monument at Gettysburg, it contains names of 34000 Pennsylvanian who took part in the Battle of Gettysburg.
General Winfield Hancock from Gettysburg DVD
General Winfield Hancock from Gettysburg DVD
A image captured from the Gettyburg DVD showing General Winfield Hancock talking to Col. Joshua Chamberlain about his friend ship with Lew Armistead.
Maj. Gen. Winfield Hancock
Maj. Gen. Winfield Hancock
Winfield Hancock from Gettysburg DVD
Winfield Hancock from Gettysburg DVD
A scene captured from the Gettysburg Movie DVD, showing Hancock ride his horse around during the artillary barrage and one of the men telling him to get down.
culp Hill
culp Hill
The Culp Hill which marks the northern flank of the Union line.
General George Gordon Meade
General George Gordon Meade
The commander of the Union Army at Gettysburg

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Gettysburg Address

Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

A plaque at Soldier Cemetary showing the Address
7 images

The Gettysburg Address was a speech by Abraham Lincoln and one of the most quoted speeches in United States history. It was delivered at the dedication of the Soldiers' National Cemetery for the Union Soldiers in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, on the afternoon of  November 19, 1863, four and a half months after the decisive Battle of Gettysburg.

Abraham Lincoln's carefully crafted address, came to be regarded as one of the greatest speeches in American history. In just over two minutes, Lincoln invoked the principles of human equality described by the Declaration of Independence and redefined the Civil War as a struggle not merely for the Union, but as "a new birth of freedom" that would bring true equality to all of its citizens, and that would also create a unified nation in which states' rights were no longer dominant.

Even though it was a major event attended by over 15000 people, only a few photographers were on hand and none captured the image Lincoln delivering the speech.  One photographer  did try it, but it took him so long to set up the camera, the speech was ending as he finally took the picture of Lincoln as he was sitting down as shown in the picture "Lincoln Delievering Address". He just blew a chance to capture the one of the greatest speech in the American History. 

July 4, 1863 - The day that doomed Confederate

Vicksburg, Mississippi

Lt. General U. S. Grant
3 images

Many historian have considered July 4, 1863 as the day that doomed Confederated State of America as they suffered two major defeats on this day. It was downhill for the Confederated State of America from this day forward.

First, the Confederate army under Robert E. Lee was defeat at Gettysburg and was forced to withdrew from Gettysburg on July 4th. This was the first true defeat for General Robert E. Lee.

Second was the surrender of the city of Vicksburg on the Mississippi to the Union Commander Major General U.S. Grant on July 4. The stretch of Mississippi River from Vicksburg to Port Hudson, LA were the only stretch of Mississippi River that was still controlled by the Confederate.  By mid May 1863, Major General Grant had the city totally surrounded.  On July 4, It was on its 56 day of siege when the Confederate commander at Vicksburg, Lt. Gen. John C. Pemberton decided to surrounder.  He felt that he could get good terms from the "Unconditional Surrender Grant" if he offered to surrender on July 4, so Grant and the Union troop can celebrate the Fourth.  The term he got from Grant was very generous indeed and is listed below:

1. The Confederate would not go to a Union POW camp, instead they will be allowed to go home as long as the promise not to fight again for the Confederate, or until they are exchanged in a process known as parole.

2. The officers were allow to keep their swords, pistols, and their personal effects. That means no Confederates officers had to surrender their swords and they still have guns to control their men.

3. The men are allowed to keep their personal effects, provisions and their horses if the horse was theirs. ( Grant didn't give General Robert E. Lee this term at Appomattox )

4. The Confederates were allowed to fly then keep their colors while marching out of Vicksburg. ( Grant didn't allow Lee's men to keep their colors at Appomattox )

These terms were better than the one Grant gave to General Robert E. Lee at Appomattox Court House as listed above. The loss of Vicksburg forced Port Hudson to surrender a week later, thus allowing the Union the full control the Mississippi River and also cut the state of Arkansas, part of Louisiana  and Texas from rest of Conferate State of America.

The Confederate Army also suffered a defeat at Helena, Arkansas on July 4. They were trying to take the city of Helena on the Mississippi, knowing the Vicksburg was going to fall and the Confederate would needed another spot to control the Mississippi River.

Due to the infamous event on July 4, the Fourth of July was not celebrated in city of Vicksburg until World War II.

Pickett and the coup de grâce of Confederates States of America

Five Forks, Virginia

George Pickett
2 images

The Battle of Five Forks was fought on April 1, 1865, southwest of Petersburg, Virginia. The battle was the coup de grâce for the Confederate. It pitted Union Maj. Gen. Philip H. Sheridan against Confederate Maj. Gen. George E. Pickett of Army of Northern Virginia. Pickett's loss at Five Forks triggered Lee's decision to abandon his entrenchments around Petersburg, and the loss of Richmond on April 4 and Lee's surrender at Appomattox Court House on April 9.

On March 31, General Robert E. Lee order Pickett and his son Fitzhugh Lee to Five Forks and "Hold Five Forks at all hazards." as he was expecting an Union attack there soon. Next day, Pickett  and Fitz Lee were in invited to a shad bake, two miles from their troops at Five Forks. They had neglected to inform their men of the generals' absence ( probabily due to fact their men were ill-fed and they didn't want them to know their generals were having a feast ). The Union Army led by Gen. Philip H. Sheridan decided to attack Five Forks at that moment, thus, caught the Pickett's Division leaderless, and they were routed quickly. The loss of Five Forks now exposed the right flank of the Confederate Army at Petersburg, forcing Lee to abandon Petersburg.

General Robert E. Lee relieved Pickett after the battle, but he didn't relief his son Fitzhugh Lee who was also a culprit.  Poor George, his failed charge at Gettysburg resulted in Confederate defeat at Gettysburg, and at Five Forks it was the coup de grâce for the Confederate.

Pennsylvanian at the Angle

Gettysburg

Pennsylvania Monument at Gettysburg
2 images

There were at least 10 regiments from the state of Pennsylvania in Gibbon's Division, Second Corp. They were positioned at the Angle where Pickett's men made their brief breakthrough. One of the brigade from the Gibbon's Division was composed of mostly Pennsylvanian led by Brig. Gen. Alexander Webb .

On July 3, Webb's brigade happened to be in the center of the Union line to defend against Pickett's Charge, in front of the famous "Copse of Trees." As the Confederates launched a massive artillery barrage to prepare for their infantry assault, Webb made himself conspicuous to his men, many of whom were unfamiliar with their new commander. He stood in front of the line and leaned on his sword, puffing leisurely on a cigar while cannonballs whistled by and shells exploded all around. Although his men shouted at him to take shelter, he refused and impressed many with his personal bravery. As Maj. Gen. George Pickett's Virginia division approached to within a few yards, two companies of Webb's 71st Pennsylvania ran away, and Webb feared the personal disgrace of a breakthrough in his line. He shouted to his neighboring 72nd Pennsylvania to charge, but they refused to budge. He attempted to grab their regimental colors and go forward with them himself, but apparently the standard bearer did not recognize him, because he fought Webb for the colors before he went down, shot numerous times. Webb ultimately gave up on the 72nd and strode directly in front of the chaos as Brig. Gen. Lewis Armistead's Confederate brigade breached the low stone wall, over to his 69th Pennsylvania regiment. Webb was wounded in his thigh and groin by a bullet, but kept going. With the help of two of Col. Norman J. Hall's New York regiments, and Brig. Gen. William Harrow's men, who ran over in a mass to get in their shots, Webb and his men brought the Confederate assault to a standstill, inflicting heavy casualties.

Webb was promoted to brevet major general of volunteers for his service that Gettysburg, effective August 1, 1864. He was awarded the Medal of Honor on September 28, 1891, for "distinguished personal gallantry in leading his men forward at a critical period in the contest" at Gettysburg on July 3, 1863.

At Gettysburg, there were 69 regiments from the state of Pennsylvania. The Union commander at Gettysburg, Maj. Gen. George Meade and the First Corp commander Maj. Gen. John Reynolds were Pennsylvanians, John Reynolds was killed on the first day, less than fifty miles from his home in Lancaster Pennsylvania.

Today, on the Gettysburg Battlefield, there is a huge Pennsylvania Monument honoring the 34000 Pennsylvania who took part in the Battle of Gettysburg. On the top, are the names of Meade and Reynold (see picture).  Gettysburg had a company of men in the  F company of 87th PA . During the battle, they were at Harper Ferry, but did take part in the Union Army half hearted pursue of Lee Army retreating from Gettysburg.

General Winfield Hancock

Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

General Winfield Hancock from Gettysburg DVD
6 images

Many historian have considered General Winfield Hancock, the commander of the Second Corp as the main factor in Union victory at Gettysburg. Two of his divisions, the Gibbon and Hayes faced the brunt of Pickett's Charge.

One the first day of the battle, Hancock arrived on field as Union Army were being routed. He quickly took command from the Maj. Gen. Howard (whose corp were also routed at Chancellorville ). He reestabilished the Union position on the Cemetery Hill and told commander of Army of Potomic, Maj. Gen. Gordon Meade that they should fight at Gettysburg.

On the second day of battle, due to the blunder of Maj. Gen. Sickle who had moved his III Corp to expose positions in Devil's Den, Peach Orchard and the Wheat Field, Hancock directed troop movements that prevented Confederate from breaking through the gap left by III Corp. Then in the everning, Maj Gen. Henry Slocum was "slow come" in getting his Twelve Corp in position to defend against Confederate attack on the East Cemetery Hill. Once again Hancock had to act to stop the Confederate breakthrough on the East Cemetery Hill.

On the third day, before the Pickett's Charge, the Confederate  launched a massive artillery barrage to prepare for their infantry. Many Union soldier, even the veteran were scared, because this was the biggest barrage of the Civil War with over two hundered guns firing. During the barrage, General Winfield Hancock rode his horse back and forth in front of II corp, like he was on a Sunday afternoon stroll. This scene was portrayed in Movie Gettysburg (see photo). Some of his aid tried to tell him to seek shelter, Hancock simply said "There are times when a corp command's life don't mean much".

During Pickett's Charge, he directed movement of regiments so they can box in the charge. He was wounded in the thigh but refuse to leave the field until the charge was repulsed.

In a sad story about Civil War being  "friends against friends". Hancock best friend was Brig. Gen. Lewis Armistead, who command the brigade that broke through the Union line at the Angle. Armistead sufferied a mortal wound and die two days later (see store Pickett's Charge). This scene was also portrayed in the Movie Gettysburg.

Brothers against brothers in Gettysburg Campaign.

Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

culp Hill

There were many undocumented cases of brothers against brothers in the Gettysburg Campaign, especially from the state of Maryland, whichhad  regiments fighting for both sides at Gettysburg.

One of the documented case of brothers fighting on the opposite sides were William Culp of the of 87th PA and his brother Wesley Culp of 2nd VA of Stonewall Brigade. Wesley and William both born in Gettysburg and grow up on the farm owned by their grandfather, Henry Culp which contains the famous Culp Hill. Wesley was born in 1839 and in 1858, he moved 45 miles to Shepherdstown, Virginia (now part of West Virginia), and in 1862, he joined the 2nd Virginia. At the same time, William joined the F company of 87 th PA, the F company were composed of men from Gettysburg.

On June 15, 1863, Confederate First Corp led by Ewell was marching towards Pennsylvania, which begun the Gettysburg Campaign. At the head of Shenandoah Valley lays the city of Winchester, Virginia which was occupied by the Union Eight Corp and 87th PA.  The Stonewall Brigade the First Corp took part in capturing the Winchester, before proceeding on to the Pennsylvania. Wesley and William were on the opposite sides in this Second Battle of Winchester. While many from Eight Corp were captured by the Confederate. The F company and William were able to escape to Harper's Ferry.  

On July 3, before Pickett's Charge, the 2nd VA was fighting at the Culp Hill, and Wesley was killed  somewhere on the Culp Hill. His family in Gettysburg heard that he was killed and tried to locate his body afterward, but only found a rifle bearing his name. Thus, Wesley Culp had the distinction of die in battle on the land named after his grandfather.

There are many legends about Wesley, one of them was he visited his sister the night before he was killed. Another legends was that his body is still on the Culp Hill

General Gordon Meade's Account of the charge

Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

General George Gordon Meade
9 images

 It was at one o'clock that two Confederate signal guns were fired, and at once there opened such an artillery combat as the armies had never before seen. As a spectacle, the fire from the two miles of Confederate batteries, stretching from the town of Gettysburg southward, was appalling; but practically the Confederate fire was too high, and most of the damage was done behind the ridge on which the Army of the Potomac was posted, although the damage along the ridge was also great. The little house just over the crest where Meade had his headquarters, and to which he had gone from Gibbon's luncheon, was torn with shot and shell. The army commander stood in the open doorway as a cannon shot, almost grazing his legs, buried itself in a box standing on the portico by the door. There were two small rooms on the ground floor of the house, and in the room where Meade had met his corps commanders the night before were a bed in the corner, a small pine table in the center, upon it a wooden pail of water, a tin drinking cup, and the remains of a melted tallow candle held upright by its own grease, that had served to light the proceedings of last night's council of war. One Confederate shell bust in the yard among the horses tied to the fence; nearly a score of dead horses lay along this fence, close to the house. One shell tore up the steps of the house; one carried away the supports of the portico; one went through the door, and another through the garret. It was impossible for aids to report or for orders to be given from the center of so much noise and confusion, and the little house was abandoned as a headquarters, to be turned, after the firing was over, into a hospital.
       During the cannonade the infantry of Meade's army lay upon the ground behind the crest. By General Hunt's direction the Union artillery fire, with the exception of that of the Second Corps batteries, was reserved for a quarter of an hour and then concentrated upon the most destructive batteries of the foe. After half an hour both Meade and his chief of artillery started messengers along the line to stop the firing, with the idea of reserving the ammunition for the infantry assault, which they well knew would soon be made. On the other side, Alexander sent word to Pickett to come quickly, and the Confederate assault began.
       Crossing the depression of the ground, a part of the Confederate line, after emerging from the woods, found a moment's rest and shelter, and then started toward the little umbrella-shaped clump of trees on the Union line, said to have been pointed out by Lee as the objective of the assault. On the left Pettigrew's division of four brigades advanced in one line, with Trimble's two brigades of Lane and Scales in the rear and right as supports. Pickett's division on the right advanced with the brigades of Kemper and Garnett in the front line and Armistead's brigade in rear of Garnett's on the left. Twenty minutes afterward the brigades of Wilcox and Perry were to advance on Pickett's right and repel any attempted flanking movement. The assault was made by twelve thousand men. To cover the advance the Confederate artillery reopened, and when the infantry line appeared the Union guns were directed upon the ranks. Great volumes of smoke, however, soon obscured the field, and many of the Confederates could not see that there was a foe in front of them until they were within two hundred yards of the Union line. Under the artillery fire from McGilvery and Rittenhouse on Pickett's right his part of line drifted to the left, and thus, when the brigades of Wilcox and Perry marched straight ahead, as ordered, for the purpose of protecting Pickett's right flank, their course took them to far to the south to accomplish their purpose, even if the advanced line by that time had not gone into pieces. As Pettigrew had formed behind Seminary Ridge, his troops had to advance under fire a distance of at least thirteen hundred yards, while Pickett's place of formation was but nine hundred yards distant from the objective point. The start was made in echelon, with Pettigrew in the rear; but by the time the Emmitsburg road was reached both divisions were on a line, and they crossed the road together. Brockenbrough's Virginians, Pettigrew's left brigade, were disheartened by the flank fire of Hays' troops and Woodruff's battery after a loss of only twenty-five killed, and these troops either retreated, surrendered, or threw themselves on the he ground for protection; but the other brigades of Pettigrew, as well as those of Trimble, advanced to the stone wall, stayed there as long as any other Confederate troops, and surrendered many fewer men than did Pickett.
       The drifting of Pickett's division to the left exposed the flank of his right brigade (Kemper) to the fire of Doubleday's division, a part of which moved with Pickett, thus continuing its deadly volleys, while Stannard's brigade by Hancock's orders, changed front to the right, and opened a most destructive fire upon Kemper's flank. Armistead's brigade moved in between Kemper and Garnett, and together they marched upon the angle of the stone wall held by Webb's Philadelphia brigade, Garnett, just before death, calling out to Colonel Frye, commanding Archer's brigade of Pettigrew's division on his left, "I am dressing on you." Scales' brigade, whose commander, Colonel Lowrance, says it "had advanced over a wide, hot, and already crimson plain," and through whose ranks troops from the front began to rush to the rear before he had advanced two thirds of the way, together with Lane's brigade, advanced to the front line, Lowrance's brigade reaching the wall. The two guns of Cushing's battery at the wall were silenced. The greater part of the Seventy-first Pennsylvania Regiment of webb's brigade had been withdrawn from the wall to make room for the artillery, and the two remaining companies, overwhelmed by the mass of the enemy concentrated at this point, were driven back from one hundred to one hundred and fifty feet. Through this gap the Confederates crossed the wall, and Armistead, putting his hat on his sword, dashed toward the other guns of Cushing's batter, near the clump of trees, and fell dead by the side of Cushing. The Sixty-ninth Pennsylvania of Webb's brigade held its left flanks by the enemy. The Seventy-second Pennsylvania and two companies of the One Hundred and Sixth Pennsylvania advanced to the wall; Cowan's New York battery galloped up; Hall's brigade of Hancock's corps, by the orders of Hancock, on Webb's left, changed front, and poured its fire into the Confederates' flank; Harrow's brigade also attacked Pickett in flank. The attack of Pettigrew and Trimble, farther to the Union right, fell upon Hays' division of the Second Corps. The Eighth Ohio changed front, facing south, reversing the tactics of Hall's brigade on the left and opened a flank fire. General Pickett, in person, did not cross the Emmitsburg road. Of his three brigade commanders, Garnett and Armistead were killed, and within twenty-five paces of the stone wall Kemper was wounded and captured. Pettigrew and Trimble and three of their brigade commanders (Frye, Marshall, and Lowrance) were wounded. The brigades of Wilcox and Perry, exposed to a heavy artillery fire from the fresh batteries moved to Gibbon's front again, and, seeing the repulse of the assault to their left, fell back to the main Confederate line.(break) Out of the fifty-five hundred men which Pickett took into action, fourteen hundred and ninety-nine surrendered, two hundred and twenty-four were killed, and eleven hundred and forty were reported wounded. Pickett lost twelve out of fifteen battle flags. Pettigrew's division, in which there was one brigade of North Carolina troops , lost in killed and wounded eight hundred and seventy-four, and in missing five hundred. Trimble's two North Carolina brigades lost in killed and wounded three hundred and eighty-nine, and in missing two hundred and sixty-one. The two brigades of Perry and Wilcox together lost three hundred and fifty-nine. Pettigrew's brigade of North Carolina regiments, commanded by Colonel Marshall, lost in the charge five hundred and twenty-eight, of which number three hundred were killed and wounded; and the Twenty-sixth North Carolina of this brigade, which regiment suffered greater losses during the war than any other on either side of the conflict, went into this charge with two hundred and sixteen men, and returned with but eighty-four. The percentage of losses in killed and wounded in the assaulting column, taken as a whole, was not extraordinary for the civil war. The place assaulted was less formidable than Fort Fisher, which was taken later in the war by Union troops, and the assault itself was far less successful than that of Meade's division at Fredericksburg. Its complete failure was due to the thorough dispositions made to meet it, and it is improbable that the result would have been reversed if McLaws and Hood , whose attention was occupied by the appearance of the Union cavalry on their right, had participated in the assault. The tactical skill which had prevented the rout of the Third Corps from involving the whole army in a defeat on the second day of the battle, was exerted with equal success in supporting the center under attack on the third day.
       At the center of Meade's position, were troops rank after rank, infantry division after division, line upon line, including even the provost guards, and, in rear of all, a regiment of cavalry waiting to shoot down the craven if he would discover himself. Against an army so disposed, in such a position, and so handled, its different parts thrown from point to point with certainty and promptitude, with every possible Confederate movement anticipated and provided for, the assault ordered by Lee was in truth the mad and reckless movement that Meade characterized it, and it accomplished no more than a slight fraying of the edge of the front Union line of troops.
       On the Union side, Hancock, Gibbon, and Webb were wounded and carried from the field. The union losses were twenty-three hundred and thirty-two. Webb's brigade losing more than any other. One hundred and fifty-eight artillery men were killed or wounded. Before the attack Meade had told Hancock that if Lee attacked the Second Corps position he intended to put the Fifth and Sixth Corps on the enemy's flank. Recalling this remark of the army commander, Hancock, while lying on the ground wounded, dictated a note to Meade, expressing his belief that if the movement contemplated by the army commander were carried out a great success would be won. The Sixth corps, however, was not now a compact organization, its different parts, having been disposed in different portions of the field. The Fifth Corps was ordered to carry out the contemplated movement, but it had also been moved to support the center. There is a limit to human endurance, and the slowness with which the movement ordered by Meade was made, owing partly to the difficulty of collecting the troops, was no doubt largely due to sheer exhaustion caused by the supreme efforts which had now been prolonged for six midsummer days.

Source: "General Meade" by Isaac R. Pennypacker published 1901

Pickett's Charge

Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

Pickett Charge's Start point.
6 images

When Battle of Gettysburg begun on July 1, Pickett’s division was at Chambersburg, PA guarding rear of Army of Northern Virginia. Late on July 2, General Lee ordered Pickett’s Division to Gettysburg.  Pickett left two brigades behind in Chambersburg and arrived at Gettysburg with three brigades and reduced strength of about 5000 men. These three brigades were led by Richard Garnett, Lewis Armistead and James Kemper. 

On July 3, General Lee ordered Pickett’s Division to join two other divisions in a frontal assault on Union Center marked the “Copse of Tree”.  Due to injury to their division commanders, the other two divisions were commanded by replacements (see Trimball and Pettygrew).  Only Pickett was familiar with his division, and he placed the brigades of Garnett and Kemper in the front, with Armistead’s brigade following behind them in support.

 General Lewis Armistead would do his duty. With near parade ground precision, he would lead the five Virginia Regiments of his Brigade out from the distant shell shattered tree line and across these deadly fields. As his men came within range, Union musketry would join the cannons, which had decimated the brigades of Garnnet and Kemper. General Armistead would continue to lead his men forward.  Federals in his front and on both flanks blazed away at the men still determined to march forward to the blue lines on Cemetery Ridge. As death seemed to indiscriminately sweep comrades from the field, conspicuously out in front ensuring that ranks closed, he continued to lead them on. 

Despite the hail of iron and lead, General Armistead closed in on the Federal Line just south of the now famous Angle along Cemetery Ridge. In the mayhem of battle with thousands of casualties behind him, General Armistead, the last of Pickett's Brigadiers, placed his hat on his sword and waved it overhead as a beacon to guide the remnants of his brigade. The courage necessary to march into the defenses of any foe is immense. That which was needed to traverse nearly one mile of open ground into the fire of massed artillery and thousands of armed infantrymen is indescribable. Yet about 12,500 Confederate soldiers started out from the trees in the distance with this line as their intended goal. Even the on-looking Union soldiers found themselves awed by the spectacle and martial beauty. Union General Winfield Scott Hancock would later write, "Their lines were formed with a precision and steadiness that extorted the admiration of the witnesses of that memorable scene."

General Armistead’s brigade was the only Confederate to breach the Union line, but the breach was short lived as Union reinforcement arrived and drove the Confederate back and General Armistead was wounded and die two days later. The casualties rate for Pickett's division was almost 60% with 495 killed. Later when General Lee asked Pickett to place his division, Pickett answered "General Lee I have no more divisions". 

Trimble and Pettigrew Division

Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

North Carolina memorial
2 images

Three divsions were involved in Pickett's charge, the division names were Pickett, Pender and Heth's Division (Confederate name their divisions by the commander's name, while Union used number for Division). Maj. Gen. Heth was wounded in first day of battle and his division was commanded by one of its brigade commander Brig. Gen. James Pettigrew. Maj. Gen. Pender was also wounded on the first day of battle. Just before Pickett's charge, General Lee decided to place Maj. Gen. Trimble in charge of Pender's division, which Trimble was totally unfamilar with.  Unfortunately, this result in Trimble given a confusing command to Lane's Brigade resulting in only half of brigade moved forward.  Pettigrew didn't fare any better as he failed to be in control of his division, when half way to the Union line, the brigades of Brockenborogh and Davis came apart as the men from the two brigades fled back to the Confederate line.

Pender and Heth's divisions arrived at Gettysburg with about 16000 men. They were involved in heavy fighting on day one of battle and both suffered 50% causalities, it was estimated they had  less than 8000 men fit for duty on July 3. A fact that General Lee may have overlooked.  During Pickett's Charge, both Heth and Pender's divisions were halted by Union fire and never reached the Union line.  Some historian have wondered had these two divisions being commanded by their regular division commands and if they were in full strength, the outcome might have been different.

General Pettigrew continued to command the Heth Division during the Confederate Army's retreat to the Potomac River at  Falling Water, WV, Pettigrew's division was deployed in a dense skirmish line on the Maryland side protecting the road to the river crossing. as Lee's army crossed the pontoon bridges into Virginia. On the morning of July 14, Pettigrew's division was attacked by the pursuing Union Army and Pettigrew suffered a serious wound. Knowing that he is dying, he asked others to carry him across the river, because he does not want to die on the Union soil. He died three days later on the Confederate soil. 

Confederate mistakenly buried in the Soldiers National Cemetary

S. Carter's grave at Soldier's National Cemetary in Gettysburg

The Soldiers National Cemetary was created after the Battle of Gettysburg as final resting place for the Union dead. The tasks for burying Union dead in the Cemetary took months as both Union and Confederate dead were buried all over the battlefield in temperary graves. Only the Union dead were re-interred in the Soldiers National Cemetary. It was not easy to identifying Union and Confederate dead from each other as many Confederate soldiers were using captured Union uniforms, equipments and belts with USA on it. It is not certain how many Confederate dead were mistakenly buried in the Soldiers National Cemetary as many of graves were simply marked as unknown.

But there is one documented case of  Confederate soldier name S. Carter being mistakenly buried in the Connecticut section of the Cemetary (see photo).  The name S. Carter failed to showup on rolls of the six Connecticut Regiments at Gettysburg and it was assumed he was a Confederate soldier that was dressed in captured Union uniform and that he participated in Pickett's Charge.

Most of the Connecticut regiments were in Hay's Division, during the Pickett's Charge, they faced Pettigrew and Trimble's Divisions. S. Carter might have been a part of Pettigrew's Division and he might have broke through the Union line and was killed by the soldiers from Connecticut.  Later he was mistakenly buried with the Connecticut dead. 

Custer's First stand

Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

Custer's plaque at Gettyburg Battlefield
4 images

Brig. Gen. George Armstrong Custer path to fame begun on the third day of Battle of Gettysburg when he led a cavalry charge against the Confederate cavalry led by Jeb Stuart and forced Stuart to retire.

During the Picketts Charge, Jeb Stuart led two brigades of cavalry in an attempt to attack the Union rear.  Two miles from the Union line, they were met by Union cavalry led by Gregg. Gregg ordered Custer to attack with the 7th Michigan. Custer personally led the regiment, shouting "Come on, you Wolverines!" Waves of horsemen collided in furious fighting. Hundred of men fought at point-blank range with carbines, pistols, and sabers. Custer's horse was shot out from under him, and he commandeered a bugler's horse. Eventually the Virginians had enough and decided to retreat, thus ending the threat to the Union rear.

 As an interesting footnote, Maj. Marcus Reno was also in cavalry at Gettysburg, but didn't take part in the Cavalry Battle. He and Custer will cross path in 1876, when he was under Custer's command in the Battle of Little Big Horn. (see related page "Battle of Little Big Horn" )

Brig. Gen. John Gibbon's division was stationed at the Angle and they replused the Pickett's Division.  In 1876, John Gibbon's regiment was supposed to support Custer in Little Big Horn, but he and his regiment  arrived two days after Custer's Last Stand.  Nevertheless, their arrival forced the departure of Indians who were besieging Reno's men on the Reno Hill. 

Event Details

Edit
Date:
From: 01 Jul 1863 1
To: 04 Jul 1863 1
Event:
Category: A battle in the American Civil war 1
Name: Battle of Gettysburg 1
Number of killed:
7000-8000 1
Number of participants:
about 158,000 1
People or Groups:
Name: General Robert E. Lee 1
Role: The commander of the Confederate Army at Gettysburg 1
People or Groups:
Name: Maj. Gen. Gordon Meade 1
Role: The commander of Union Army at Gettysburg 1
Place:
Location: Gettysburg Pennsylvania 1

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