Pickett George. E. Pickett. A re-evaluation.

rebed19th

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Found this book over the weekend, As it says on the inside flap why is it called Picketts Charge, and not for example Richardsons Charge at Antietam or Humphreys Assault at Fredericksburg. Why does Picketts Charge still evoke admiration of bravery of both the southern attackers and northern defenders. Usually we turn to the objective "history'' to resolve such questions, and Picketts Charge holds a special place as the "high tide of the confederacy" Why does Picketts Charge endure in the imagination. Over the years soldiers, journalists, politicians, orators, artists, poets and educators have shaped, revised and even sacrificed 'History" of the change to create "memories" that met the ever-shifting needs and spoke to the deeply felt values. Why is Picketts career judged by Gettysburg. It is on my list of to be read so I cannot give an review of the book. Has anyone read this book.

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Ole Miss

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Pickett's name was incorporated into the famous charge/assault by the coverage of the Richmond press. Virginia held an advantage over other states by being closer and and a more active press corp.

Captain W. R. Boyd's monograph of 1888 Pickett or Pettigrew* was one of the came to the defense of other regiments involved in Longstreet's Assault. Boyd was part of Ewell's Corps so he spoke out for Hill's Corps. I have his essay listed below and highly recommend reading it for a different view of this seminal American event.
Regards
David
*http://gdg.org/Research/Authored Items/bond.html
 

WJC

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"Sally" and "Libbie" married boy-men who had difficulty from separating the romance of war from reality. It seems they were "playing dress up" with perfumed ringlets and the courtly atmosphere around their headquarters.
I can't speak with any authority on Pickett, but I believe that- like Custer- this is a popular misrepresentation. What little I've read about Pickett indicates he was a far better soldier and leader than he is portrayed.
 

WJC

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Pickett's name was incorporated into the famous charge/assault by the coverage of the Richmond press. Virginia held an advantage over other states by being closer and and a more active press corp.
A reason why Pickett was praised but also why he is criticized. A Virginian who actually criticized Lee? How could that be tolerated!
 

5fish

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Here is a nice recap of the Suffolk campaign and Pickette seemed to do little... there a recount of a duel where the two officers reloaded and fired three times at each other and missing each other... Pickette wanted a pass to see his future child bride...

http://www.cincinnaticwrt.org/data/ccwrt_history/talks_text/breiner_longstreet_suffolk.html

here... https://www.essentialcivilwarcurriculum.com/george-e.-pickett.html

Soldiers complained that Pickett was riding off to see his lover, with or without permission, returning bleary eyed the next morning to oversee his troops. One of Longstreet’s staff remarked: “I don’t think his division benefited from such carpet-knight doings on the field.”

Further, Pickett was anxious to prove himself as leader of a division. He and his troops remained in reserve at the Battle of Fredericksburg and they were limited to siege operations at Suffolk. Lee’s bold Pennsylvania Campaign, it seemed, would make things right again to affirm Pickett’s abilities as a soldier and leader.

Lee was so disappointed with Pickett’s performance at Five Forks that he removed him from command. Spotting Pickett at the surrender ceremony, Lee demanded: “Is that man still with this army?”
 

WJC

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I always thought Pickett has gotten "bad press" because of his portrayal in the movie, Gettysburg.
Yes, that portrayal rivalled the portrayal of Custer in Little Big Man. Both were designed to ridicule, not to educate. Why is it that J. E. B. Stuart is revered and praised for his idiosyncracies while Picket is ridiculed because of his hairstyle?
 

5fish

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Yes, that portrayal rivalled the portrayal of Custer in Little Big Man. Both were designed to ridicule, not to educate. Why is it that J. E. B. Stuart is revered and praised for his idiosyncracies while Picket is ridiculed because of his hairstyle?


J. E. B. Stuart was revered because he preformed his duties with excellence. He was a difference maker on the battlefield. Pickett was not....
 

ErnieMac

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The source of the "I thought that man was no longer with the army" story was Lee's AAG Lt. Colonel Walter H. Taylor. Douglas Freeman included the story in his writings. While there is no doubt that Generals Richard H. Anderson and Bushrod Johnson were relieved following Sayler's Creek (primarily because they had no men left to command), there is no evidence that orders relieving Pickett were issued. No copy of the order is known to exist. Immediately following the surrender at Appomattox, Taylor requested a report from Pickett outlining his division's movements activities from Five Forks thru Appomattox. Taylor addressed his request to "Maj Gen G E Picket, General Commanding." Pickett Submitted the report and signed it "G.E. Pickett, Major-Gen., Commd'g." Historians still debate the issue.

IMO Pickett was a competent, but not outstanding division commander. As far as Gettysburg goes Pickett's statement to the effect that "I’ve always thought the Yankees had something to do with it." pretty well explains the result. I do agree the failure to capture New Bern (NC) rests with Pickett, but to my way of thinking that shows his lack of capability to be responsible for and coordinate an independent command. Pickett was far from being the only general with that problem.
 

RochesterBill

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Yes, that portrayal rivalled the portrayal of Custer in Little Big Man. Both were designed to ridicule, not to educate. Why is it that J. E. B. Stuart is revered and praised for his idiosyncracies while Picket is ridiculed because of his hairstyle?

Well, because the ideal of a dashing, hard charging cavalryman generally does not include long, curled hair and perfume.

Somehow, I just can't see John Buford prancing about the battlefield looking like Lana Turner. He was too busy finding Rebels for his men to kill.

Stuart had his flourishes, for sure, but the baseline for him is that he was a hard boiled killer as well.

Pickett's mode of grooming is part and parcel of how he is perceived. A little more battlefield success - whether it was his fault or not that his resume is pretty thin in that regard - would have changed that perception. Instead of a pomaded dandy he'd be seen as something of an eccentric perhaps.

And that, I think, is the difference between him and Custer, whose reputation extends to a bunch of fighting and killing, with great gusto. His hair is not his only claim to fame.

I guarantee that if Pickett's men had broken through at Cemetary Hill, his hair would be a footnote.
 

BillO

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1. Custer’s position isn’t ‘Lofty’...I think people everywhere know the name Custer, they know who he is, what he did and why he died. I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone that doesn’t know the name Custer. That’s pretty lofty.

2. Picket could only aspire to mediocrity...I’m sure his aspirations went far beyond mediocrity, he wouldn’t be human if they didn’t.
Being well known is 'lofty" over in England?
 

Waterloo50

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I always thought Pickett has gotten "bad press" because of his portrayal in the movie, Gettysburg.
General Lee, I have no Division, Those words spoken in the movie were powerful, I think they did a good job of showing Picketts pain and anguish.
I noticed a funny comment where somebody had rewritten the exchange between Pickett and Lee.
General Lee, I have no division.
Private Pickett, you must look to your division.
 

Ole Miss

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Was Pickett's mind set on the July 3rd Charge or had he been bubbling about his "Sallie" and slipping away to see her back home? I kinda believe George was not mature enough of a soldier to bear the loss of his command at Gettysburg as evidence by the absence of an after action report to Lee. Pickett's resentment/anger toward Lee impaired his abilities as a military commander in my humble opinion.

My GGGrandfather, George W Litton, served in Pickett's Division as a private in the 29th VA in Corse's Brigade. I have read with interest much about the Gettysburg battle as many men from my county and area in North Mississippi were participants in the Charge. Always looking for more information and knowledge.
Regards
David
 

WJC

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Well, because the ideal of a dashing, hard charging cavalryman generally does not include long, curled hair and perfume.

Somehow, I just can't see John Buford prancing about the battlefield looking like Lana Turner. He was too busy finding Rebels for his men to kill.

Stuart had his flourishes, for sure, but the baseline for him is that he was a hard boiled killer as well.

Pickett's mode of grooming is part and parcel of how he is perceived. A little more battlefield success - whether it was his fault or not that his resume is pretty thin in that regard - would have changed that perception. Instead of a pomaded dandy he'd be seen as something of an eccentric perhaps.

And that, I think, is the difference between him and Custer, whose reputation extends to a bunch of fighting and killing, with great gusto. His hair is not his only claim to fame.

I guarantee that if Pickett's men had broken through at Cemetary Hill, his hair would be a footnote.
Thanks for your response.
We ought not discount the importance of a gallant death in battle in shaping image....
 

Waterloo50

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Was Pickett's mind set on the July 3rd Charge or had he been bubbling about his "Sallie" and slipping away to see her back home? I kinda believe George was not mature enough of a soldier to bear the loss of his command at Gettysburg as evidence by the absence of an after action report to Lee. Pickett's resentment/anger toward Lee impaired his abilities as a military commander in my humble opinion.

My GGGrandfather, George W Litton, served in Pickett's Division as a private in the 29th VA in Corse's Brigade. I have read with interest much about the Gettysburg battle as many men from my county and area in North Mississippi were participants in the Charge. Always looking for more information and knowledge.
Regards
David
Guess we’ll never really know about Picketts mind set on the day of that charge but he was clearly a man capable of heightened emotions. Some may say that a man in his position should at least be able to keep his emotions in check but I don’t think he was capable of that, you could well be correct in your assumption that he lacked maturity, there are many incidents where his fragile emotional state appeared to have got the better of him, this can especially be seen in his letters to Sallie.
Oh, God! I can't write you a love letter today, my Sallie, for, with my great love for you and my gratitude to God for sparing my life to devote to you, comes the overpowering thought of those whose lives were sacrificed - of the brokenhearted widows and mothers and orphans. The moans of my wounded boys, the sight of the dead, upturned faces flood my soul with grief; and here am I, whom they trusted, whom they followed, leaving them on the field of carnage.
 

WJC

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J. E. B. Stuart was revered because he preformed his duties with excellence. He was a difference maker on the battlefield. Pickett was not....
Thanks for your response.
Such an evaluation is only proper. But my question concerns the images of both men as they are frequently portrayed: the dashing Stuart versus the effeminate Pickett- even claims that Pickett was a woman!
 

diane

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:laugh: I remember that Pickett was a woman thread! I was expecting a Forrest was actually his twin sister thread next...

I'm not sure where the perfumed curls made him effeminate, because the ladies of the day seemed to regard him as romantic and dashing, like the knights they read about in their Walter Scott novels. Forrest was stylin' when he went gambling - slicked up in brocade, silver shoe buckles and perfumed hair curls around the ears, and nobody called him a sissy. (At least not more than once...!)
 
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