Pickett Is there any hard evidence for Pickett’s whereabouts during the charge.

Waterloo50

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Just finished reading an interesting article on ‘Battlefield anomalies’, the author finished his article with

‘I began writing this little article so that the layman would be able to comprehend the relevant points of the battle. After combing the WEB for a decent critique of the battle, and of Pickett himself, I found nothing but bias and dross. This is the reason I have not come to any firm conclusion concerning General Pickett’s behaviour and whereabouts during the charge’...

it’s a question that I know gets asked a lot but where was Pickett? some say that he was hiding, others claim that he was drunk...does anyone have any thoughts on his whereabouts? I’ve read a few articles that claim he was riding up and down the line of men making sure that everyone was ready and in position, is the author correct when he says that he’s found nothing but ‘bias and dross’?
 
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Tom Elmore

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Just as Pickett's infantry was beginning to advance, Sergeant Edward Compton of the 7th Virginia recalled: "Lee, Longstreet and Pickett were all there sitting on their horses when we started ..." (Reminiscences of Edward H. Compton, Company B, 7th Virginia)

While the attack was in progress, it is my impression that Pickett and members of his staff rode no further than a short distance to the west of the Codori buildings, which served as a partial protection against Union artillery fire.

Captain Robert A. Bright was sent by Pickett to request reinforcements from Longstreet. Bright rode back to Pickett to report that Wilcox was ready to advance. Pickett then sent Bright back to Dearing’s battalion to order them up (but he found them out of ammunition). (Capt. Robert A. Bright, Southern Historical Society Papers, vol. 31, 1903)

Captain Edward R. Baird (aide) was sent to Wilcox by Pickett to order him forward. (Baird Family Papers)

1st Lieutenant William Stuart Symington (aide) was one of two staff officers (the other was Baird) sent by Pickett to try to rally Pettigrew's men on the left. (Postwar account of Symington, Supplement to the Official Records)

It seems that when a repulse was evident, Pickett rode back toward Seminary Ridge. According to Major Poague, Pickett appeared on the line of his guns on horseback, looking intently to the front. When Poague initially realized Pickett’s men were falling back, he asked Pickett what to do. Pickett replied, "I think you had better save your guns," then rode off. (Gunner with Stonewall, Reminiscences of William Thomas Poague)
 

jackt62

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The allegation that Pickett was nowhere to be found, or was hiding, or whatever during Day 3 does not appear to be based on any factual source and most likely derives from later attempts to discredit him. Most sources I have read place him on the battlefield in the rear of his advancing forces, which was the appropriate position for him to best oversee command and control.
 

Waterloo50

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The allegation that Pickett was nowhere to be found, or was hiding, or whatever during Day 3 does not appear to be based on any factual source and most likely derives from later attempts to discredit him. Most sources I have read place him on the battlefield in the rear of his advancing forces, which was the appropriate position for him to best oversee command and control.
Agreed, positioned anywhere else and it wouldn’t make sense. It’s like I’ve said, I’ve read numerous reports that claim Pickett was either hiding away or drunk in a barn, there could be some truth to him being under the influence, he was well known for liking a bottle or two.
 

Waterloo50

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others claim that he was drunk...

Who has claimed this?
Lesley J.Gordon, General George E. Pickett in Life and Legend. The University of North Carolina Press.

you know that Pickett liked his drink, I’m pretty sure that the shad bake wasn’t alcohol free.
 

rpkennedy

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The short answer is no, there is no hard evidence that anyone can point to and say for certain, "Pickett was here". The general feeling among most Pickett's Charge scholars is that Pickett was somewhere in the vicinity of the Codori Farm, definitely west of the road. The fields west of the Emmitsburg Road are somewhat rolling and I can see him on one of the eastern ridge tops in a position from which he could observe not only his division but also those of Pettigrew and Trimble to his left (and we have evidence that he could see those troops as @Tom Elmore cited above).

Ryan
 

Rothermel

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I am cautious about posting this.... because I'm aware of a long established consensus that no one is sure where Pickett was and especially not where he was the whole time. But.... I have never thought that Pickett ever got very close to the Codori farm. I think like others that he never crossed the Emmitsburg Rd like RPKennedy said.
I have been told verbally he was farther south, much farther. Closer to his reserves, and that makes sense to me.

And yes I do think the 'red barn' thing comes into play when discussing it.

So I am not wanting to disagree with anyone, nor imply there is a correct answer but I did look to the Reardon book "Pickett's charge in history and memory". And at that time when she wrote that she never mentions the Codori farm that I can find.
But she does mention the trip Pickett's widow took to Gettysburg with actual Pickett Division veterans who were there.
I believe 1887. on page 102 "the first carriages carried Mrs Pickett her son and Bachelder. The stopped at the junction of the Emmitsburg rd and the Spangler farm lane. Near the Spangler farmhouse, Pickett's men filed through a receiving line on the very ground her husbands command had charged to meet Sallie and her son. Col H.C. Cabell marveled at the coincidence. I pointed out the spot where General Pickett and his officers were. It was almost on the spot where Mrs Pickett stood when the surviving soldiers were introduced to her that day...."

To me it would make sense a veteran would know where Pickett and his staff were at. They must have been conspicuous and the fact it was Cabell makes sense. He said in his OR that his artillery battalion had to stop firing as part of Picketts division advanced
on the ground occupied by those batteries. So he would be near Picketts Div.

I too think Pickett did the proper thing and was a position closer to his reserves rather than pushing up towards the more northern position that some folks place him in. Personally I do not think any General could have lead anything close to the Emmitsburg Rd as it was 100% chaos. But being further South he was in position to get his reserves moving which were Wilcox and Lang.

And to sort of back up this observation I would refer to Matt Atkinson's essay.

"Bright recalled. The gist of his orders to Kemper were “you and your staff and field officers to go in dismounted; dress on Garnett and take the red barn for your objective point.” (The red barn was actually the white-washed Codori log barn.)34..."

Garnett handled his brigade admirably during the advance to align with Fry. However, Garnett’s line did not entirely clear the Codori farm. The right regiment, the 8th Virginia, had to break ranks to clear the obstacle the buildings posed and reform on the other side. The wounding of their Colonel, Eppa Hunton , at this time, compounded the difficulty of the task, but Major Edmond Berkley assumed command and successfully executed the movement. 40 It was Pickett’s duty to supervise the movement of his three brigades and arrange for their support as necessary. Orderly Thomas R. Friend rode with Pickett for much of the time. Friend remembered that Pickett began the advance between the brigades of Garnett and Armistead. The general then rode behind the rear of Kemper’s brigade toward the Peach Orchard, near where his artillery battalion was positioned. After a short time, Pickett rode again toward the rear of Kemper’s advancing line. He then dismounted at some point along the Emmitsburg road to observe the advance of his men. The rest of Pickett’s movements are cloudy, but he probably returned south on the Emmitsburg road closer to his artillery battalion and the supporting brigades of Wilcox and Lang whom he was authorized to call to his support if necessary.41 Much controversy has surrounded Pickett’s performance on July 3. The evidence indicates he fulfilled his duty as a division commander. He gave the orders for the change of front of his brigades from “guide right” to “guide left,” and sent several aides in an attempt to rally some of the breaking men of Pettigrew’s division. He dispatched an aide to Longstreet requesting succor for his men and cautioned Colonel Mayo to keep the proper interval with Garnett. Upon closing with the Federal line, he sent instructions to watch the flanks. And he sent a staff officer to his artillery battalion, commanded by Major James Dearing, requesting support for the right flank when it was threatened. But once his division crossed the Emmitsburg road, Pickett lost tactical control of his brigades. The din of battle, along with the smoke and confusion, made issuing orders or attempting maneuvers well nigh impossible. Nevertheless, he succeeded in executing the necessary maneuvers that delivered all three of his brigades to the objective point of the assault, which, given the resistance encountered, was not a simple achievement. 42"


In summary..... it's just my take on the issue. Pickett was not near the Codori barn at any time, nor just directly west of it, nor a 100yds behind his division. He was much further south of the Codori farm. Closer to the Klingel farm with it's red barn and the intersection of Emmitsburg rd and the Spangler farm lane (on a rise near there) west of Emmitsburg Rd. he had followed his division forward but stopped and moved south as they went more north. So that he would be able to contact Wilcox and Lang at the appropriate time.
Close to the artillery, and it was observed by Cabell.


Nothing wrong with that....

And it was my hope that by citing Matt Atkinson's essay and Carol Reardon's book which includes observations of a vet who was there ... that this would add to the discussion rather than detract from it.
 

rpkennedy

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I am cautious about posting this.... because I'm aware of a long established consensus that no one is sure where Pickett was and especially not where he was the whole time. But.... I have never thought that Pickett ever got very close to the Codori farm. I think like others that he never crossed the Emmitsburg Rd like RPKennedy said.
I have been told verbally he was farther south, much farther. Closer to his reserves, and that makes sense to me.

And yes I do think the 'red barn' thing comes into play when discussing it.

So I am not wanting to disagree with anyone, nor imply there is a correct answer but I did look to the Reardon book "Pickett's charge in history and memory". And at that time when she wrote that she never mentions the Codori farm that I can find.
But she does mention the trip Pickett's widow took to Gettysburg with actual Pickett Division veterans who were there.
I believe 1887. on page 102 "the first carriages carried Mrs Pickett her son and Bachelder. The stopped at the junction of the Emmitsburg rd and the Spangler farm lane. Near the Spangler farmhouse, Pickett's men filed through a receiving line on the very ground her husbands command had charged to meet Sallie and her son. Col H.C. Cabell marveled at the coincidence. I pointed out the spot where General Pickett and his officers were. It was almost on the spot where Mrs Pickett stood when the surviving soldiers were introduced to her that day...."

To me it would make sense a veteran would know where Pickett and his staff were at. They must have been conspicuous and the fact it was Cabell makes sense. He said in his OR that his artillery battalion had to stop firing as part of Picketts division advanced
on the ground occupied by those batteries. So he would be near Picketts Div.

I too think Pickett did the proper thing and was a position closer to his reserves rather than pushing up towards the more northern position that some folks place him in. Personally I do not think any General could have lead anything close to the Emmitsburg Rd as it was 100% chaos. But being further South he was in position to get his reserves moving which were Wilcox and Lang.

And to sort of back up this observation I would refer to Matt Atkinson's essay.

"Bright recalled. The gist of his orders to Kemper were “you and your staff and field officers to go in dismounted; dress on Garnett and take the red barn for your objective point.” (The red barn was actually the white-washed Codori log barn.)34..."

Garnett handled his brigade admirably during the advance to align with Fry. However, Garnett’s line did not entirely clear the Codori farm. The right regiment, the 8th Virginia, had to break ranks to clear the obstacle the buildings posed and reform on the other side. The wounding of their Colonel, Eppa Hunton , at this time, compounded the difficulty of the task, but Major Edmond Berkley assumed command and successfully executed the movement. 40 It was Pickett’s duty to supervise the movement of his three brigades and arrange for their support as necessary. Orderly Thomas R. Friend rode with Pickett for much of the time. Friend remembered that Pickett began the advance between the brigades of Garnett and Armistead. The general then rode behind the rear of Kemper’s brigade toward the Peach Orchard, near where his artillery battalion was positioned. After a short time, Pickett rode again toward the rear of Kemper’s advancing line. He then dismounted at some point along the Emmitsburg road to observe the advance of his men. The rest of Pickett’s movements are cloudy, but he probably returned south on the Emmitsburg road closer to his artillery battalion and the supporting brigades of Wilcox and Lang whom he was authorized to call to his support if necessary.41 Much controversy has surrounded Pickett’s performance on July 3. The evidence indicates he fulfilled his duty as a division commander. He gave the orders for the change of front of his brigades from “guide right” to “guide left,” and sent several aides in an attempt to rally some of the breaking men of Pettigrew’s division. He dispatched an aide to Longstreet requesting succor for his men and cautioned Colonel Mayo to keep the proper interval with Garnett. Upon closing with the Federal line, he sent instructions to watch the flanks. And he sent a staff officer to his artillery battalion, commanded by Major James Dearing, requesting support for the right flank when it was threatened. But once his division crossed the Emmitsburg road, Pickett lost tactical control of his brigades. The din of battle, along with the smoke and confusion, made issuing orders or attempting maneuvers well nigh impossible. Nevertheless, he succeeded in executing the necessary maneuvers that delivered all three of his brigades to the objective point of the assault, which, given the resistance encountered, was not a simple achievement. 42"


In summary..... it's just my take on the issue. Pickett was not near the Codori barn at any time, nor just directly west of it, nor a 100yds behind his division. He was much further south of the Codori farm. Closer to the Klingel farm with it's red barn and the intersection of Emmitsburg rd and the Spangler farm lane (on a rise near there) west of Emmitsburg Rd. he had followed his division forward but stopped and moved south as they went more north. So that he would be able to contact Wilcox and Lang at the appropriate time.
Close to the artillery, and it was observed by Cabell.


Nothing wrong with that....

And it was my hope that by citing Matt Atkinson's essay and Carol Reardon's book which includes observations of a vet who was there ... that this would add to the discussion rather than detract from it.

It's certainly a possibility.

Ryan
 
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