George Pickett Letter to His Wife Following July 3rd Charge

Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW:REGISTER HERE!

Henry Hunt

Private
Joined
Jul 23, 2019
Messages
122
George Pickett Letter to His Wife Following July 3rd Charge

First post in the Pickett forum! I was curious as to what statements Pickett made in the aftermath of his charge. This letter to his wife I think captures Pickett's thoughts well and gives us some insight into why the charge failed from his point of view.

“At the beginning of the fighting I was so sanguine, so sure of success! Early in the morning I had been assured by Alexander that General Lee had ordered every brigade in his command to charge Cemetery Hill; so I had no fear of not being supported. Alexander also assured me of the support of his artillery, which would move ahead of my division in the advance. He told me that he had borrowed seven twelve-pound howitzers from Pendleton, Lee’s Chief of Artillery, which he had put in reserve to accompany me…..

Two lines of enemy infantry were driven back; two lines of guns were taken-and no support came. Pendleton without Alexander’s knowledge, had sent four guns which he had loaned him to some other part of the field, and the other three guns could not be found. The two brigades which were to have followed me had, poor fellows, been seriously engaged in the fights of the two previous days. Both their commanding officers had been killed, and while they had been replaced by gallant, competent officers, these new leaders were unknown to the men. Ah if I had my other two brigades, a different story would have been flashed to the world.”[1]

A) Pickett was optimistic about the attack succeeding beforehand
B) Pickett was told he would be assisted by “every brigade” available
C) Pendleton mismanaged the artillery and prevented Alexander from assisting
D) Pickett believed he could have broken through had Jenkins and Corse brigades not been taken from him



[1] Solider of the South: General Pickett’s War Letters to His Wife, ed. Arthur Crew Inman (New York: Houghton Mufflin Company, 1928), 69-71.
https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=uc1.$b61025&view=1up&seq=1
 
Last edited:

major bill

Colonel
Forum Host
Joined
Aug 25, 2012
Messages
15,818
So is Pickett attempting to somewhat shift the blame?

It seems doubtful Alexander would have said that General Lee had ordered every brigade in his command to charge Cemetery Hill. Pickett must have know this was not true.

Do we know how many howitzers were moved forward? Regardless, it is unknown how seven howitzers would have changed the outcome.
 

JPK Huson 1863

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Forum Host
Joined
Feb 14, 2012
Messages
18,835
Location
Central Pennsylvania
I'm always inclined towards the benefit of doubt when reading these. You know the recent study on the effects of artillery fire on soldiers? It's concussive, like a blow to the head. I've always wondered how anyone could clear their head after 2 previous days of battle then enduring an extended cannonade that could be heard where I live- 1 1/2 hour's drive away. You'd be scrambled, probably without knowing it.
 

Henry Hunt

Private
Joined
Jul 23, 2019
Messages
122
Many historians believe that Pickett's wife "edited" (to say the least) Pickett's alleged letters prior to publishing the book.
Interesting, thanks. I have seen two different books containing Pickett's letters: Solider of the South and The Heart of a Solider. I found the former of more interest due to the military focus. I wonder if his wife's edits apply to the battlefield info or are limited to his intimate letters with her.
 
Last edited:
Top