Saturday, July 27, 2013

150-Years-Ago -- PICKETT'S CHARGE

The Richmond Daily Dispatch
July 28, 1863
Maj. Gen. George Pickett
(Library of Congress)
How Pickett's division was "Cut all to Pieces"-- its support ran.
--The fate of Pickett's Division is particularly interesting to the people of this State, as it is composed exclusively [of] Virginians. The following paragraph from a letter written by a member of Wright's Brigade to the Augusta Chronicle, shows how so much valuable life came to be lost, and nothing gained, in the assault at Gettysburg:

Now the infantry is brought up for the assault, Pickett's division in advance; then Heth's, (how commanded by Gen Pettigrew, senior Brigadier,) in echelon on the left On the men swept. Our brigade being held in reserve, enabled us to take a position where we had a view of the whole field, and I am sure I have never seen troops start better than this storming party did. Pickett pushed firmly and steadily forward, going over the identical ground our brigade had passed the day before Pettigrew followed in fine order. Our artillery now ceased firing, and upon inquiry I learned they had exhausted their ammunition! And at such a time! There is Pickett and Pettigrew half across the valley: the enemy have ran up new guns and are pouring a deadly fire into their ranks. The enemy's infantry have opened upon them — they fall upon every side — Generals, Colonels, Captains, Lieutenants, privates, as thick as autumn leaves they strew the plain. And our guns, will they not re open? Is there no succor for those brave spirits who are so nobly and steadily bearing their country's flag in that terrible fight? Surely our artillery will help them now — this is the crisis! My God! all is as silent as death along our whole line of artillery; one hundred and twenty pieces of cannon standing mute and dumb while the very flower of the Confederate army is grappling on unequal terms in a struggle of life and death with an enemy strongly posted in a mountain fastness, and admirably protected by well served artillery. I ask myself, "can they stand this fire much longer?" and I see Pickett still vigorously pushing on, dealing a deadly fire at every step. The enemy fall back from his front — they take shelter behind the stone wall — still Pickett advancing. On the left Pettigrew's line wavers — it pauses — all is lost — it falls back — it runs. Some of the officers attempt to rally their men, but a great many are scampering away in front of their men; better skelter, pell-mell, here they come. But one thought seems to actuate them all, and that is to gain a safe place in the rear. Pickett left alone, still rushes forward upon the enemy — he has gained the stone wall — has gone over it — is in the enemy's wake — has silenced their guns. I can see with my glass our battle-flag waving in the enemy's batteries, where but a moment since the Yankee colors floated in the breeze.--Take care, brave Virginians, you are in a trap the support on your right and left has fallen back. Our brigade was caught there yesterday, and there, upon their right, a heavy column of Yankee infantry is deploying around a point of woods to gain their rear — it is done — they are surrounded. They now attempt to cut their way out; but many are killed and wounded, and many more are taken prisoners.

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