BRIGADIER GENERAL JAMES JOHNSTON PETTIGREW

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Dad, send money. I need pantaloons. (1846)
Posted on 28 August 2009 by Biff Hollingsworth | 3 Comments
[Our final installment of our "welcome back" series.]

Ah, it’s a phenomenon old as time: college-age sons and daughters contacting home to ask for more money. The following letter was sent from James Johnston Pettigrew to his father Ebenezer Pettigrew on 8 February 1846. J.J. needed some money for some new duds. (This letter comes from the Pettigrew Family Papers, SHC #592):

Expired Image Removed
James Johnston Pettigrew, circa 1855 (from the 1898 book "Lives of distinguished North Carolinians")

Although it is early in the session, I presume it will not be out of place to make a statement of the clothes I shall want, more especially since my wardrobe is nearly exhausted. The present underclothes are the ones I had when I left Hillsboro [sic], with the exception of four bosoms and collars, which I bought two years ago. Most of these, that is to say, shirts, drawers, stockings, collars, handkerchiefs, & cravats, are either worn out or have become too small. The same is the case with my outer clothes, with the exception the two pairs of pantaloons, which were purchased at Raleigh last summer, and are bothe [sic] too small by this time. In the article of shirts, I am almost certainly deficient. My present cap has lasted two winters, and Sister Mary can inform you with regard to its shabby appearance during the vacation. This I mention, merely to show, that I am not diposed to be extravagant in my dress. The following is a list which I have made out of my probable wants. I have only one coat for this winter, so that it will be better to get another for Commencement.

  • One Coat.
  • One pair of Pantaloons.
  • Two vests. (I am entirely out of vests, also.)
  • One hat.
  • Shirts.
  • Drawers.
  • Stockings.
  • Two or three handkerchiefs.
  • One or two cravats.
  • Shoes.
There is in addition to these another want, which may appear trifling, but which in my situation is absolutely necessary as a Marshal for Commencement, namely, a cane. Judging the price of these articles from my clothes last summer and the summers before, the amount will probably be $70 or $80, a very large sum, but I do not see how it is to be avoided, without an appearance which I wouldn’t wish to show.

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Posted in Education, Family, Just for Kicks, Staff Finds,University of North Carolina

Tagged 1846, 19th century, James Johnston Pettigrew, Pettigrew, student life,students, University life, University of North Carolina
 
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PICKETT OR PETTIGREW?
[9]Longstreet's assault on the third day at Gettysburg, or what is generally, but very incorrectly, known as "Pickett's Charge," has not only had its proper place in books treating of the war, but has been more written about in newspapers and magazines than any event in American history. Some of these accounts are simply silly. Some are false in statement. Some are false in inference. All in some respects are untrue.

Three divisions, containing nine brigades and numbering about nine thousand and seven hundred officers and men, were selected for the assaulting column. The field over which they were ordered to march slowly and deliberately, was about one thousand yards wide, and was swept by the fire of one hundred cannon and twenty thousand muskets. The smoke from the preceding cannonade, which rested upon the field, was their only cover. In view of the fact, that when the order to go forward was given, Cemetery Ridge was not defended by Indians or Mexicans, but by an army, which for the greater part, was composed of native Americans, an army, which if it had never done so before, had shown in the first and second day's battles, not only that it could fight, but could fight desperately. In view of this fact, whether the order to go forward was a wise thing or a frightful blunder, I do not propose to discuss. The purpose of this paper will be to compare and contrast the courage, endurance and soldierly qualities of the [10] different brigades engaged in this assault, dwelling especially upon the conduct of the troops commanded respectively by Generals Pickett and Pettigrew.

If certain leading facts are repeated at the risk of monotony, it will be for the purpose of impressing them upon the memories of youthful readers of history. As a sample, but rather an extreme one, of the thousand and one foolish things which have been written of this affair, I will state that a magazine for children, "St. Nicholas," I think it was, some time ago contained a description of this assault, in which a comparrison [sic] was drawn between the troops engaged, and language something like the following was used: "Those on the left faltered and fled. The right behaved gloriously. Each body acted according to its nature, for they were made of different stuff. The one of common earth, the other of finest clay. Pettigrew's men were North Carolinians, Pickett's were superb Virginians." To those people who do not know how the trash which passes for Southern history was manufactured, the motives which actuated the writers, and how greedily at first everything written by them about the war, was read, it is not so astonishing that a libel containing so much ignorance, narrowness and prejudice as the above should have been printed in a respectable publication, as the fact, that even to this day, when official records and other data are so accessible, there are thousands of otherwise well-informed people all over the land who believe the slander to be either entirely or in part true. And it looks almost like a hopeless task to attempt to combat an error which has lived so long and flourished so extensively. But some one has said, "Truth is a Krupp gun, before which Falsehood's armor, however thick, cannot stand. One [11] shot may accomplish nothing, or two, or three, but keep firing it will be pierced at last, and its builders and defenders will be covered with confusion." This little essay shall be my one shot, and may Justice defend the right.

In the great war the soldiers from New York and North Carolina filled more graves than those from any of the other States. In the one case fourteen and in the other thirty-six per cent. of them died in supporting a cause which each side believed to be just. Virginia, North Carolina and Georgia each had about the same number of infantry at Gettysburg; in all twenty-four brigades of the thirty-seven present. Now, this battle is not generally considered a North Carolina fight as is Chancellorsville, but even here the soldiers of the old North State met with a greater loss (killed and wounded, remember, for North Carolina troops never attempted to rival certain Virginia brigades in the number of men captured), than did those from any other State, and, leaving out Georgians, greater than did those from any two States. Though the military population of North Carolina was exceeded by that of Virginia and Tennessee, she had during the war more men killed upon the battle field than both of them together. This is a matter of record. It may be that she was a little deliberate in making up her mind to go to war, but when once she went in she went in to stay. At the close of the terrible struggle in which so much of her best blood had been shed, her soldiers surrendered at Appomattox and Greensboro more muskets than did those from any other State in the Confederacy. Why troops with this record should not now stand as high everywhere as they did years ago in Lee's and Johnston's armies, may appear a problem hard to solve, [12] but its solution is the simplest thing in the world, and I will presently give it.

The crack brigades of General Lee's army were noted for their close fighting. When they entered a battle they went in to kill, and they knew that many of the enemy could not be killed at long range. This style of fighting was dangerous, and of course the necessary consequence in the shape of a casualty list, large either in numbers or per centage, followed. Then there were some troops in the army who would on all occasions blaze away and waste ammunition, satisfied if only they were making a noise. Had they belonged to the army of that Mexican general who styled himself the "Napoleon of the West," they would not have been selected for his "Old Guard," but yet, without exception, they stood high in the estimation of the Richmond people, much higher indeed than very many of the best troops in our army.

As said above, Longstreet's assault is almost invariably spoken and written of as "Pickett's charge." This name and all the name implies, is what I shall protest against in this article. At the battle of Thermopylae three hundred Spartans and seven hundred Thespians sacrificed their lives for the good of Greece. Every one has praised Leonidas and his Spartans. How many have ever so much as heard of the equally brave Thespians? I do not know of a case other than this of the Thespians, where a gallant body of soldiers has been treated so cruelly by history, as the division which fought the first day under Heth and the third under Pettigrew. I have no personal concern in the fame of these troops, as I belonged to and fought in another division; but in two of its brigades I had intimate friends who were killed in this battle, and on their account I would like to see justice done. [13]Among these friends were Captain Tom Holliday, A. A. G., of Davis' Brigade, and Harry Burgwyn, Colonel of the 26th North Carolina. (This regiment. had more men killed and wounded in this battle than any one of the seven hundred Confederate or the two thousand Federal ever had in any battle. Official records show this.) And then, too, I know of no reason why truth, honesty and fair dealing should not be as much prized in historical as in business matters.

As the battle of Gettysburg was the most sanguinary of the war, as by many it is considered "the turning of the tide," so the final charge made preceded and attended as it was by peculiarly dramatic circumstances, has furnished a subject for more speeches, historical essays, paintings and poems than any event which ever occurred in America. Painters and poets, whose subjects are historical, of course look to history for their authority. If history is false, falsehood will soon become entrenched in poetry and art.

The world at large gets its ideas of the late war from Northern sources. Northern historians, when the subject is peculiarly Southern, from such histories as Pollard's, Cook's and McCabe's, and these merely reflected the opinions of the Richmond newspapers. These newspapers in turn got their supposed facts from their army correspondents, and they were very careful to have only such correspondents as would write what their patrons cared most to read.

During the late war, Richmond, judged by its newspapers, was the most provincial town in the world. Though the capital city of a gallant young nation, and though the troops from every State thereof were shedding their blood in her defence, she was wonderfully narrow and selfish. While the citizens of Virginia [14] were filling nearly one-half of the positions of honor and trust, civil and military, Richmond thought that all should be thus filled. With rare exceptions, no soldier, no sailor, no jurist, no statesman, who did not hail from their State was ever admired or spoken well of. No army but General Lee's and no troops in that army other than Virginians, unless they happened to be few in numbers, as was the case of the Louisianians and Texans, were ever praised. A skirmish in which a Virginian regiment or brigade was engaged was magnified into a fight, an action in which a few were killed was a severe battle, and if by chance they were called upon to bleed freely, then, according to the Richmond papers, troops from some other State were to blame for it and no such appalling slaughter had ever been witnessed in the world's history.
 
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Indiscriminate praise had a very demoralizing effect upon many of their troops. They were soon taught that they could save their skins and make a reputation, too, by being always provided with an able corps of correspondents. If they behaved well it was all right; if they did not it was equally all right, for their short-comings could be put upon other troops. The favoritism displayed by several superior officers in General Lee's army was unbounded, and the wonder is that this army should have continued to the end in so high a state of efficiency. But then as the slaps and bangs of a harsh stepmother may have a less injurious effect upon the characters of some children than the excessive indulgence of a silly parent, so the morale of those troops, who were naturally steady and true, was less impaired by their being always pushed to the front when [15] danger threatened, than if they had always been sheltered or held in reserve.

Naturally the world turned to the Richmond newspapers for Southern history, and with what results I will give an illustration: All war histories teach that in Longstreet's assault on the third day his right division (Pickett's) displayed more gallantry and shed more blood, in proportion to numbers engaged, than any other troops on any occasion ever had. Now, if gallantry can be measured by the number or per centage of deaths and wounds, and by the fortitude with which casualties are borne, then there were several commands engaged in this assault, which displayed more gallantry than any brigade in General Longstreet's pet division. Who is there who knows anything of this battle to whom the name of Virginia is not familiar?

To how many does the name of Gettysburg suggest the names of Tennessee, Mississippi or North Carolina? And yet the Tennessee brigade suffered severely; but the courage of its survivors was unimpaired. There were three Mississippi regiments in Davis' brigade, which between them had one hundred and forty-one men killed on the field. Pickett's dead numbered not quite fifteen to the regiment. The five North Carolina regiments of Pettigrew's division bore with fortitude a loss of two hundred and twenty-nine killed.

Pickett's fifteen Virginia regiments were fearfully demoralized by a loss of two hundred and twenty-four killed. Virginia and North Carolina had each about the same number of infantry in this battle. The former had three hundred and seventy-five killed, the latter six hundred and ninety-six.

When in antebellum days, Governor Holden, the then leader of the Democratic cohorts in North Carolina, [16] was the editor of the "Raleigh Standard," he boasted that he could kill and make alive. The Richmond editors during the war combining local and intellectual advantages without boasting did the same. They had the same power over reputations that the Almighty has over physical matter. This fact General Longstreet soon learned, and the lesson once learned, he made the most of it. He would praise their pet troops and they would praise him, and between them everything was lovely. He was an able soldier, "an able writer, but an ungenerous." Troops from another corps, who might be temporarily assigned to him were invariably either ignored or slandered.

The Gascons have long. been noted in history for their peculiarity of uniting great boastfulness with great courage. It is possible that some of General Longstreet's ancestors may have come from Southern France. His gasconade, as shown of late by his writings, is truly astonishing, but his courage during the war was equally remarkable. Whether his Virginia division excelled in the latter of these characteristics as much as it has for thirty-six years in the first, I will leave the readers of this monograph to decide.

If to every description of a battle, a list of casualties were added, not only would many commands, both in the army of Northern Virginia and in the army of the Potomac, which have all along been practically ignored, come well to the front; but those who for years have been reaping the glory that others sowed, would have the suspicion that perhaps after all they were rather poor creatures. Our old soldier friend, Col. John Smith, of Jamestown, Va., to an admiring crowd, tells his story: "He carried into action five [17] hundred men, he charged a battery, great lanes were swept through his regiment by grape and canister, whole companies were swept away, but his men close up and charge on, the carnage is appalling, but it does not appall, the guns are captured, but only he and ten men are left to hold them. His regiment has been destroyed, wiped out, annihilated," and this will go for history. But should Truth in the form of a list of casualties appear, it would be seen that Colonel Smith's command had fifteen killed and sixty wounded. That is three in the hundred killed, and twelve in the hundred wounded. Some gallantry has been displayed, some blood has been shed, but neither the one nor the other was at all phenomenal. "There were brave men before Agamemnon."

In some commands the habit of "playing possum" prevailed. When a charge was being made, if a fellow became badly frightened, all he had to do was to fall flat and play dead until his regiment passed. Afterwards he would say that the concussion from a shell had stunned him. It is needless to say that troops who were addicted to this habit stood higher abroad if their correspondent could use his pen well, than they did in the army.

Was it arrogance or was it ignorance which always caused Pickett's men to speak of the. troops which marched on their left as their SUPPORTS? It is true that an order was issued and it was so published to them that they should be supported by a part of Hill's Corps, and these troops were actually formed in their rear. It is equally true that before the command to move forward was given this order was countermanded and these troops were removed and placed on their left. As these movements were seen of all men this order could not have been the origin [18] of the belief that Pettigrew had to support them. Was it arrogance and self-conceit? It looks like it. That their division stood to Lee's army in the same relation that the sun does to the solar system. But then these people, if not blessed with some other qualities, had brains enough to know that our army could fight and conquer, too, without their assistance. They did comparatively little fighting at Second Manassas and Sharpsburg, had only two men killed at Fredericksburg, did not fire a shot at Chancellorsville, for they were miles away, and it is no exaggeration to say that they did not kill twenty of the enemy at Gettysburg.

The front line of troops, the line which does the fighting, was always known as "the line." The line which marched in rear to give moral support and practical assistance, if necessary, was in every other known body of troops called the supporting line or simply "supports." Pickett's division had Kemper's on the right, Garnett's on the left, with Armistead's marching in the rear of Garnett's. Pettigrew's formed one line with Lane's and Scales' brigades of Pender's division, under Trimble, marching in the rear of its right as supports. How many supporting lines did Pickett's people want? The Federals are said occasionally to have used three. Even one with us was the exception. Ordinarily one brigade of each division was held in reserve, while the others were fighting, in order to repair any possible disaster.

To show how a falsehood can be fortified by Art, I will state that I visited the Centennial Exposition at Philadelphia and there saw a very large and really fine painting representing some desperate fighting at the so-called "Bloody Angle." Clubbing with muskets, jabbing with bayonets and firing of cannon at [19] short range, was the order of the day. Of course I knew that the subject of the painting was founded upon a myth; but had always been under the impression that while many of Pickett's and a few of Pettigrew's men were extracting the extremities of certain undergarments to be used as white flags, a part of them were keeping up a scattering fire. While before the painting a gentleman standing near me exclaimed: "Tut! I'll agree to eat all the Yankees Pickett killed." Entering into conversation with him I learned that he had been at Gettysburg, had fought in Gordon's Georgia brigade, and that he did not have a very exalted opinion of Pickett's men. As our Georgian friend was neither remarkably large nor hungry-looking, several persons hearing his remark stared at him. That he did exaggerate to some extent is possible, for I have since heard that among the dead men in blue, near where Armistead fell, there were six who had actually been killed by musket balls.

Col. Fox, of Albany, N. Y., has published a work entitled, "Regimental Losses." In it is seen a list of the twenty-seven Confederate regiments which had most men killed and wounded at Gettysburg. Readers of the histories of Pollard, Cooke and McCabe will be rather surprised to find only two Virginia regiments on this list. Those who are familiar with battlefield reports will not be surprised to see that thirteen of these regiments were from North Carolina and four from Mississippi. Three of the last named and five of the North Carolina regiments met with their loss under Pettigrew.

The North Carolina brigade had in killed and wounded eleven hundred and five, which is an average to the regiment of two hundred and seventy-six. [20] There was not a Confederate regiment at either First or Second Manassas which equalled this average, and no Virginia regiment ever did.

This brigade on the first day met those of Biddle and Meredith, which were considered the flower of their corps, and many old soldiers say that this corps--the First--did the fiercest fighting on that day of which they ever had any experience, and the official records sustain them in this belief. Biddle's brigade was composed of one New York and three Pennsylvania regiments. Meredith's, known as the "Iron" brigade, was formed of five regiments from the west. (By the way, the commander of this body, Gen. Solomon Meredith, was a native of North Carolina, as was also Gen. Jno. Gibbon, the famous division commander in the second corps, and North Carolina luck followed them, as they were severely wounded in this battle.) Pettigrew's brigade, with a little assistance from that of Brockenborough, after meeting these troops forced them to give ground and continued for several hours to slowly drive them 'till their ammunition became nearly exhausted. When this occurred the Federals had reached a ridge from behind which they could be supplied with the necessary ammunition. But not so with Heth's troops. The field was so open, the contending lines so close together, and as every house and barn in the vicinity was filled with sharpshooters, they could not be supplied and were in consequence relieved by two of Pender's brigades. In the meantime the enemy was re-enforced by a fresh brigade of infantry and several wonderfully efficient batteries of artillery, and so when the brigades of the "right division" made their advance they suffered very severely before their opponents could be driven from the field. Meredith's brigade this day [21] had 886 killed and wounded and 266 missing; Biddle's 642 killed and wounded and 255 missing. The loss in Brockenborough's Virginia was l48. For the whole battle, as said before, Pettigrew's killed and wounded amounted to 1,105; probably two-thirds of this loss occurred on this day.
 
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These facts and figures are matters of record, and yet with these records accessible to all men, Swinton, a Northern historian, in the brilliant description he gives of the assault on the third day says that "Heth's division, commanded by Pettigrew, were all raw troops, who were only induced to make the charge by being told that they had militia to fight and that when the fire was opened upon them they raised the shout, 'The Army of the Potomac! The Army of the Potomac!' broke and fled." As after the battle the Virginia division had the guarding of several thousand Federal prisoners, captured by Carolinians and Georgians, they are probably responsible for this statement.

But to return to the fight of the first day. The Honorable Joseph Davis, then a Captain in the 47th, late Supreme Court Judge of North Carolina, speaking of this day's battle, says: "The advantage was all on the Confederate side, and I aver that this was greatly, if not chiefly, due to Pettigrew's brigade and its brave commander. The bearing of that knightly soldier and elegant scholar as he galloped along the lines in the hottest of the fight, cheering on his men, can not be effaced from my memory." Captain Young, of Charleston, South Carolina, a staff officer of this division, says: "No troops could have fought better than did Pettigrew's brigade on this day, and I will testify on the experience of many hard fought battles, that I never saw any fight so [22] well." Davis' brigade consisted of the 55th North Carolina, the 2nd, 11th and 42nd Mississippi. The 11th was on detached service that day. The three which fought also faced splendid troops. Here, too, was a square stand up fight in the open. During the battle these three had, besides the usual proportion of wounded, one hundred and forty-eight killed. Only two dead men were lacking to these three regiments to make their loss equal to that of ten regiments of Pickett's "magnificent Virginians."

Cutler's brigade composed of one Pennsylvania and four New York regiments was opposed to that of Davis, and its loss this day was 602 killed and wounded and 361 missing, and many of the missing were subsequently found to have been killed or severely wounded. With varying success these two brigadesfought all the morning. The Federals finally gave way; but three of their regiments, after retreating for some distance, took up a new line. Two of them left the field and went to town, as the day was hot and the fire hotter. It is said they visited Gettysburg to get a little ice water. However that may be, they soon returned and fought well 'till their whole line gave way.

The ground on which these troops fought lay north of the railroad cut and was several hundred yards from where Pettigrew's brigade was engaged with Meredith's and Biddle's. As Rodes' division began to appear upon the field Davis' brigade was removed to the south side of the cut and placed in front of Stone's Pennsylvania brigade (which, having just arrived, had filled the interval between Cutler and Meredith) but did no more fighting that day. After securing ammunition it followed the front line to the town. Had the interval between Daniel's and Scales' [23] been filled by Thomas', which was held in reserve, neither of these Carolina brigades would have suffered so severely. The 2nd and 42nd Mississippi and 55th North Carolina of Davis' for the battle had 695 killed and wounded, and about two-thirds of this occurred in this first day's fight.

To illustrate the individual gallantry of these troops I will relate an adventure which came under my observation. It must be borne in mind that this brigade had been doing fierce and bloody fighting since nine o'clock and at this time not only its numerical loss but its per centage of killed and wounded was greater than that which Pickett's troops had to submit to two days later, and that it was then waiting to be relieved. Early in the afternoon of this day my division (Rodes') arrived upon the field by the Carlisle road and at once went into action. My brigade (Daniels') was on the right, and after doing some sharp fighting, we came in sight of Heth's line, which was lying at right angles to ours as we approached. The direction of our right regiments had to be changed in order that we might move in front of their left brigade, which was Davis'. The Federal line, or lines, for my impression is there were two or more of them, were also lying in the open field, the interval between the opposing lines being about three hundreds yards. Halfway between these lines was another, which ran by a house. This line was made of dead and wounded Federals, who lay "as thick as autumnal leaves which strew the brooks in Vallambrosa." It was about here that the incident occurred. A Pennsylvania regiment of Stone's brigade had then two flags--state and national--with their guard a short distance in front of them. One of these colors Sergt. Frank Price, of the 42nd Mississippi [24] and half a dozen of his comrades determined to capture. Moving on hands and knees 'till they had nearly reached the desired object, they suddenly rose, charged and overcame the guard, captured the flag and were rapidly making off with it, when its owners fired upon them, all were struck down but the Sergeant, and as he was making for the house above referred to a young staff officer of my command, having carried some message to Heth's people, was returning by a short cut between the lines, and seeing a man with a strange flag, without noticing his uniform he thought he, too, would get a little glory along with some bunting. Dismounting among the dead and wounded he picked up and fired several muskets at Price; but was fortunate enough to miss him. Sergeant Price survived the war. His home was in Carrollton, Mississippi. Recently the information came from one of his sons, a name-sake of the writer, that his gallant father was no more; he had crossed the river. and was resting under the shade of the trees. The parents of Mr. Price were natives of the old North State. Does any one who has made a study of Pickett's "magnificent division," suppose that even on the morning of the 5th, when only eight hundred of the nearly or quite six thousand who had engaged in battle reported for duty, sad and depressed as they were, it could have furnished heroes like Price and his companions for such an undertaking, as in spite of friends and foes was successfully accomplished? General Davis says that every field officer in his brigade was either killed or wounded. My old classmate, Major John Jones, was the only one left in the North Carolina brigade, and he was killed in the next spring's campaign.

The following extract is taken from a description [25] of the assault by Colonel Taylor, of General Lee's staff: "It is needless to say a word here of the heroic conduct of Pickett's division, that charge has already passed into history as one of the world's great deeds of arms.' While doubtless many brave men of other commands reached the crest of the heights, this was the only organized body which entered the works of the enemy." Pickett's left and Pettigrew's and Trimble's right entered the works. Men from six brigades were there. Which command had most representatives there is a disputed point. As to the superior organization of Pickett's men what did that amount to? In the nature of things not a brigade on the field was in a condition to repel a determined attack.

Just before the final rush two bodies of Federals moved out on the field and opened fire, the one upon our right the other upon the left. The loss inflicted upon our people by these Vermonters and New Yorkers was very great, and not being able to defend themselves, there was on the part of the survivors a natural crowding to the centre. The commander of a Federal brigade in his report says, "Twenty battle flags were captured in a space of one hundred yards square." This means that crowded within a space extending only one hundred yards there were the remnants of more than twenty regiments. But Col. Taylor says that Pickett's division "was the only organized body which entered the enemy's works."

The late General Trimble said: "It will be easily understood that as Pickett's line was overlapped by the Federal lines on his right, and Pettigrew's and Trimble's front by the Federal lines on their left, each of these commands had a distinct and separate discharge of artillery and musketry to encounter, the one as incessant as the other, although Pickett's men [26] felt its intensity sooner than the others, and were the first to be crushed under a fire before which no troops could live. While Pettigrew and Trimble suffered as much or more before the close because longer under fire, in consequence of marching farther." And again: "Both Northern and Southern descriptions of the battle of Gettysburg, in the third day's contest, have without perhaps a single exception, down to the present time, given not only most conspicuous prominence to General Pickett's division, but generally by the language used have created the impression among those not personally acquainted with the events of the day that Pickett's men did all the hard fighting, suffered the most severely and failed in their charge, because not duly and vigorously supported by the troops on their right and left. It might with as much truth be said that Pettigrew and Trimble failed in their charge, because unsupported by Pickett, who had been driven back in the crisis of their charge and was no aid to them."

Some time ago Gen. Fitz Lee wrote a life of his uncle, Gen. Robert E. Lee, and in a notice of this book the courteous and able editor of a leading Richmond newspaper gives a fine description of the part borne by Pickett's division in Longstreet's assault on the third day, but has little or nothing to say about the other troops engaged; whereupon a citizen of this State (North Carolina) wrote and wished to know if there were any North Carolinians upon the field when Pickett's men so greatly distinguished themselves. In answer the editor admits that he had forgotten all about the other troops engaged, and says: "We frankly confess that our mind has been from the war until now so fully possessed of the idea that the glory of the charge belonged exclusively to [27] Pickett's division that we overlooked entirely the just measure of credit that Gen. Fitz Lee has awarded other commands." Whereupon a correspondent of his paper, curiously enough, is in high spirits over this answer, and referring to it says: "It is especially strong in what it omits to say. The picture of the charge, as given by Swinton, as seen from the other side, would have come in perfectly; but it would have wounded our North Carolina friends and was wisely left out."

Now, as to the impertinence of this correspondent who refers to what Swinton said, there is a temptation to say something a little bitter, but as the writer has made it a rule to preserve a judicial tone as far as possible, and in presenting facts to let them speak for themselves, he refrains from gratifying a very natural inclination. Probably with no thought of malice Swinton, in making a historical flourish, sacrificed truth for the sake of a striking antithesis. This of course he knew. Equally of course this is what the correspondent did not know. No one ever accused John Swinton of being a fool. A distinguished writer in a recent discussion of this assault says: "History is going forever to ask Gen. Longstreet why he did not obey Gen. Lee's orders and have Hood's and McLaw's divisions at Pickett's back to make good the work his heroic men had done." Not so. History is not going to ask childish questions.

A Virginian writer in closing his description of this assault has recently said: "Now, this remark must occur to every one in this connection. Pickett's break through the enemy's line, led by Armistead, was the notable and prodigious thing about the whole battle of Gettysburg." If so, why so?

[28]The commanders of Wright's Georgia and Wilcox's Alabama brigades report that when fighting on Longstreet's left on the afternoon of the second day, they carried the crest of Cemetery Ridge and captured twenty-eight cannon. The truth of this report is confirmed by General Doubleday, who says: "Wright attained the crest and Wilcox was almost in line with him. Wilcox claims to have captured twenty guns and Wright eight."

In another place he says, in speaking of a certain officer: "On his return late in the day he saw Sickle's whole line driven in and found Wright's rebel brigade established on the crest barring his way back."

Late in the same afternoon over on our left in Johnson's assault upon Culp's Hill, Stewart's brigade carried the position in their front and held it all night. Also late the same afternoon two of Early's brigades, Hoke's North Carolina and Hay's Louisiana, carried East Cemetery Heights, took many prisoners and sent them to the rear, several colors, and captured or silenced twenty guns (spilling some of them before they fell back). And a part of them maintained their position for over an hour, some of them having advanced as far as the Baltimore Pike. It is an undoubted fact that even after their brigades had fallen back parts of the 9th Louisiana and 6th North Carolina, under Major Tate, held their position at the wall on the side of the hill (repelling several attacks) for an hour, thus holding open the gate to Cemetery Heights, and it does seem that under cover of night this gate might have been used and the Ridge occupied by a strong force of our troops with slight loss.

On the afternoon of the third day the men who were in front of the narrow space abandoned by the enemy, [29] and some who were on their right and left, in a disorganized mass of about one thousand, crowded into this space for safety. (Less than fifty followed Armistead to the abandoned gun.) When, after about ten minutes, they were attacked they either surrendered or fled. No one knows what State had most representatives in this "crowd" as the Federal Col. Hall calls them, but the man who wrote that they did "the notable and prodigious thing about the whole battle of Gettysburg" thinks he knows. All soldiers now know, and many knew then, that in sending 9,000 or 10,000 men to attack the army of the Potomac, concentrated and strongly fortified, there was no reasonable hope of success.

The thing of most interest to readers of history is the question to wh ich of the troops engaged on that ill-starred field is to be awarded the palm for heroic endurance and courageous endeavor. To know the per centage of killed and wounded of the different troops engaged in this assault, is to know which are entitled to most honor. Some of the troops in Pettigrew's division met with a loss of over 60 per cent. The per centage for Pickett's division was not quite 28. The 11th Mississippi, as said elsewhere, was the only regiment in Pettigrew's or Trimble's divisions, which entered the assault fresh. Most of the other troops of these commands had been badly cut up in the first day's battle, and the exact number they carried into the assault is not known, but entering fresh the number taken in by the Eleventh is known, and the number it lost in killed and wounded is reported by Dr. Guild. Consequently there cannot be the slightest doubt that its per centage of loss for the assault was at least 60. It is fair to presume that the per centage in the other regiments of its brigade was [30] equally great. It is also fair to presume that the brigade immediately on its right, which went somewhat farther and stayed somewhat longer under the same terrific fire, lost as heavily.

If the charge of the Light Brigade at Balaklava in which it lost 35 per cent. has rendered it famous, why should not the Charge of Davis' brigade in which it lost 60 per cent. render it equally famous? And if the blundering stupidity of the order to charge has excited our sympathy in behalf of the British cavalry, is there not enough of that element in the order to the infantry brigade to satisfy the most exacting? And if Davis' brigade deserves fame why do not all the brigades--with one exception--of Pettigrew and Trimble also deserve it?

Col. W. E. Potter, of the 12th New Jersey, Smyth's brigade, Hay's division, in an address delivered several years ago, after speaking in very complimentary terms of the conduct of the North Carolina and Mississippi brigades of Pettigrew's division, says: "Again a larger number of the enemy was killed and wounded in front of Smyth than in front of Webb. Of this, besides the general recollection of all of us who were then present, I have special evidence. I rode over the field covered by the fire of these two brigades on the morning of Sunday, July 5th, in company with Lt. Col. Chas. H. Morgan, the chief of staff of Gen. Hancock, and Capt. Hazard. As we were passing the front of Smyth's brigade, Col. Morgan said to Hazard: 'They may talk as they please about the hard fighting in front of Gibbon, but there are more dead men here than anywhere in our front.' To this conclusion Hazard assented."

After the frightful ordeal they had been through it is not to the discredit of any of the troops engaged [31] to say that when they reached the breastworks, or their vicinity, there was no fight left in them, for there is a limit to human endurance. This limit had been reached, and this is shown by the fact that there was not an organization upon the field which, when an attack was made, on its flank, made the slightest attempt to change front to meet it, but either surrendered or fled. This being the case the only thing of interest is to decide which brigades received the most punishment before this limit was reached.
 
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During the recent discussion in the Richmond newspapers as to whether any of the North Carolina troops reached a point at or near the enemy's works, the most prominent writer on the negative side of the question gives extracts from the reports of certain participants in the charge to corroborate his opinion, and by a singular oversight gives one from the report of Major John Jones, then commanding Pettigrew's own brigade, who says: "The brigade dashed on, and many had reached the wall when we received a deadly volley from the left." To have reached the stone wall on the left of the salient, they must necessarily have advanced considerably farther than any troops on the field. And yetthe above writer in the face of Major Jones' testimony, thinks that neither his nor any North Carolina troops were there. But then he quotes from the Federal Col. Hall, "who," he says, "gives a list of the flags captured by his command when the charge was made." Amongst them he mentions that of the 22nd North Carolina, and says: "If this can be accepted as true it of course ends all controversy." Col. Hall reports that at the close of the assault his brigade captured the flags of the 14th, 18th, 19th and 57th Virginia, and that of the 22nd North Carolina. Webb reports that his [32] command captured six flags, but does not name the regiments to which they belonged. Heth [sic!] captured those of the 1st, 7th and 28th Virginia. Carroll's brigade those of the 34th North Carolina and 38th Virginia. Smyth's brigade those of 1st and 14th Tennessee, 16th and 52nd North Carolina and five others, the names not given, and Sherrill's brigade captured three, the names not given. Thus we have the names of eight Virginia, four North Carolina and two Tennessee and fourteen reported captured, names not given. In all twenty-eight, which accounts for Pickett's fifteen, Scales' five, Pettigrew's own three and Archer's four. One of Pettigrew's and one of Archer's having been carried back, some of the other troops must have lost one. If official reports which say that the flags of the 1st and 14th Tennessee, and of the 16th, 22nd, 34th and 52nd North Carolina were captured, cannot be accepted as true and thus "end all controversy," perhaps a re-statement of the fact that twenty-eight colors were taken at the close of the assault may do so, for as said above the Virginia division had only fifteen flags.

To show the disproportion that existed at the close of the fight between the numbers of men and flags, one officer reports that his regiment charged upon the retreating rebels and captured five regimental battle-flags and over forty prisoners, and a brigade commander speaking of the ground at and in front of the abandoned works, says: "Twenty battle-flags were captured in a space of 100 yards square."

There is one fact that should be remembered in connection with this assault, namely: That of all breast works a stone wall inspires most confidence and its defenders will generally fire deliberately and accurately and cling to it tenaciously.

[33]The stone wall ran from the left and in front of Lane's, Davis' and Pettigrew's North Carolina brigades and ended where the right of the last named rested at the close of the assault. At this point works made of rails covered with earth began and ran straight to the front for some distance and then made a sharp turn to the left in the direction of Round Top, continuing in nearly a straight line beyond Pickett's right. It was a short distance to the right of the outer corner of these works when Webb's men gave way.

Several years ago there was published in the Philadelphia "Times," an article by Col. W. W. Wood, of Armistead's brigade, giving his recollections of this affair. As the writer had very naively made several confessions, which I had never seen made by any other of Pickett's men, and had evidently intended to speak truthfully, I put the paper aside for future reference. I shall now make several selections from it and endeavor to criticise them fairly. Our artillery crowned the ridge, and behind it sheltered by the hills lay our infantry: "The order to go forward was obeyed with alacrity and cheerfulness, for we believed that the battle was practically over, and that we had nothing to do but to march unopposed to Cemetery Heights and occupy them. While making the ascent it was seen that the supports to our right and left flanks were not coming forward as we had been told they would. Mounted officers were seen dashing frantically up and down their lines, apparently endeavoring, to get them to move forward, but we could see that they would not move. Their failure to support us was discouraging, but it did not dishearten us. Some of our men cursed them for cowards, etc." So far no great courage had been required. [34] But what troops were they that Pickett's people were cursing for cowards? On the right they were Perry's Florida and Wilcox's Alabama, under the command of the latter General. Their orders were that when twenty minutes had elapsed after the line had started they were to march straight ahead and repel any body of flankers who should attack the right. This order was obeyed to the letter. At the required time they moved forward and kept moving. About where Pickett should have been (Pickett's line bad previously obliqued to the left) not a Confederate was to be seen. They kept on and single handed and alone attacked the whole Federal army, then exulting in victory. Of course they were repulsed, but when they knew they were beaten did they surrender that they might be sheltered in Northern prisons from Northern bullets? Not they. They simply fell back and made their way, as best they could, to the Confederate lines. Is there any significance in the facts that shortly after this battle Gen. Wilcox was promoted and Gen. Pickett and his men were sent out of the army? What other troops were they whom these men were cursing for being cowards? Some of them were the choice troops of A. P. Hill's old division, ever famous for its fighting qualities, others were the survivors of Archer's brigade of gallant Tennesseans, Mississippians, brave and impetuous, North Carolinians, always steady, always true. These men were cursed as cowards, and by Pickett's Virginians! Achilles cursed by Thersites! A lion barked at by a cur.

But there was one brigade, and only one, in Pettigrew's division which failed in the hour of trial. It was from their own State, and had once been an efficient body of soldiers, and even on this occasion [35] something might be said in its defense. But had this not been the case, to the men of Armistead's brigade (who were doing the cursing) the memory of their own behavior at Sharpsburg and Shepherdstown should have had the effect of making them charitable towards the shortcomings of others.

Let us allow the Colonel to continue: "From the time the charge began up to this moment, not a shot had been fired at us nor bad we been able to see, because of the density of the smoke, which hung over the battlefield like a pall, that there was an enemy in front of us. The smoke now lifted from our front and there, right before us, scarcely two hundred yards away, stood Cemetery Heights in awful grandeur. At their base was a double line of Federal infantry and several pieces of artillery, posted behind stone walls, and to the right and left of them both artillery and infantry supports were hurriedly coming up. The situation was indeed appalling, though it did not seem to appall. The idea of retreat did not seem to occur to any one. Having obtained a view of the enemy's position, the men now advanced at the double quick, and for the first time since the charge began they gave utterance to the famous Confederate yell." So it seems that all that has been spoken and written about their having marched one thousand yards under the fire of one hundred cannon and twenty thousand muskets, is the veriest bosh and nonsense. They marched eight hundred yards as safely as if on parade. When the smoke lifted they charged for two hundred yards towards the breastworks; the left only reached it--the right never did, but lay down in the field and there and then fifteen hundred of them "threw down their muskets for the war." Colonel Wood continues: "The batteries to [36] the right and left of Cemetery Heights now began to rain grapeshot and canister upon us, and the enemy's infantry at the base of the Heights, poured volley after volley into our ranks. The carnage was indeed terrible; but still the division, staggering and bleeding, pushed on towards the Heights they had been ordered to take. Of course such terrible slaughter could not last long. The brave little division did not number men enough to make material for prolonged slaughter."

The carnage was for them indeed terrible, and their subsequent behaviour up to their defeat and rout at Five Forks, showed that they never forgot it. Let us see what was this horrible carnage. The fifteen regiments, according to General Longstreet, carried into the charge, of officers and men, forty-nine hundred. It is more probable that the number was fifty-five hundred. If they had the former number their percentage of killed and wounded was nearly twenty-eight, if the latter, not quite twenty-five. On the first day the North Carolina brigade lost thirty and on the third sixty per cent. The "brave, the magnificent," when they had experienced a loss of fifteen killed to the regiment, became sick of fighting, as the number surrendered shows. One regiment of the "cowards," the 42d. Mississippi, only after it had met with a loss of sixty killed and a proportionate number of wounded, concluded that it was about time to rejoin their friends. Another regiment of the "cowards," the 26th North Carolina, only after it had had more men killed and wounded than any one of the two thousand seven hundred Federal and Confederate regiments ever had, came to the same conclusion. The five North Carolina regiments of this division had five more men killed than Pickett's fifteen.

[37]To continue: "In a few brief moments more the left of Armistead's brigade, led by himself on foot, had passed beyond the stone wall, and were among the guns of the enemy, posted in rear of it. General Garnet had before then been instantly killed, and General Kemper had been severely wounded. The survivors of their brigades had become amalgamated with Armistead's." How can any one see any organization to boast of here? "Our line of battle was not parallel to the Heights, and the left of the diminished line reached the Heights first. The right of the line never reached them. The men of the right, however, were near enough to see General Armistead shot down near a captured gun as he was waving his sword above his head, and they could see men surrendering themselves as prisoners. Just then a detachment of Federal infantry came out flanking our right, and shouted to us to surrender. There was nothing else to do, except to take the chance, which was an extremely good one, of being killed on the retreat back over the hill. But a few, myself among the number, rightly concluded that the enemy was weary of carnage, determine to run the risk of getting back to the Confederate lines. Our retreat was made singly, and I at least was not fired upon." If the division had equalled Col. Wood in gallantry, it would not have surrendered more sound men than it had lost in killed and wounded, as by taking some risk the most of those captured might have escaped as he did. The Colonel concludes: "When the retreat commenced on the night of the 4th of July, the nearly three hundred men who had been confined in the various brigade guard houses were released from confinement, and they and their guard permitted to return to duty in the ranks, and [38]many detailed men were treated in the same way. On the morning of the 5th of July, the report of the division showed not quite eleven hundred present. Eleven hundred from forty-five hundred leaves thirty-four hundred, and that was the number of casualties suffered by Pickett's little division at Gettysburg." I have known individuals who took pride in poverty and disease. The surrender of soldiers in battle was often unavoidable; but I have never known a body of troops other than Pickett's, who prided themselves upon that misfortune. General Pemberton or Marshal Bazaine may have done so. If they did, their countrymen did not agree with them, and it is well for the fame of General Lee and his army that the belief that the road to honor lay in that direction, was not very prevalent. Pickett's division has been compared to a "lance-head of steel," which pierced the centre of the Federal army. To be in accord with the comparison, it was always represented as being smaller than it really was.
 
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