Pickett Your Opinion of General George Pickett?

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What do you think of General Pickett?


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rbasin

2nd Lieutenant
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Jan 31, 2013
Location
Tampa, Fl
Admittedly never a fan of Pickett, but his reputation is built on a charge that should never have happened. I can't recall a battle that he positively distinguished himself in.
 

Elennsar

Colonel
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May 14, 2008
Location
California
Admittedly never a fan of Pickett, but his reputation is built on a charge that should never have happened. I can't recall a battle that he positively distinguished himself in.

http://ebooks.library.cornell.edu/cgi/t/text/pageviewer-idx?c=moawar;cc=moawar;q1=Pickett;rgn=full text;idno=waro0013;didno=waro0013;view=image;seq=0769

http://ebooks.library.cornell.edu/c...Pickett;view=image;seq=760;size=100;page=root

Both the colonel who took command of his brigade after he was wounded and Longstreet speak of his bravery at Gaines's Mill, which I suppose counts as distinguishing himself to some extent. It's certainly the basis by which a lot of officers made a name for themselves in this war.
 

KeyserSoze

Captain
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Apr 14, 2011
Location
Kansas City
You may select one of the choices below, if you want to explain your answer or go into detail, please post your response. :thumbsup:

Pickett was a competent enough division commander in the one major battle he commanded one in - Gettysburg. He pretty much muffed every command he held after that, which counts against him. But he did win the Pig War of 1859 so that offsets a lot of his mistakes.
 

Carronade

Captain
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Aug 4, 2011
Location
Pennsylvania
The first choice - He was a good general who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time - seems to judge him just by the charge at Gettysburg (and maybe the shad bake). Overall I'd say he was basically competent but rose as high as he should have. The ANV had lots of talent at brigade and division levels, so there was little reason to place or retain Pickett in division command if he wasn't performing adequately. Their main issue seems to have been corps commanders after the first two, Jackson and Longstreet.
 

Rio Bravo

First Sergeant
Joined
Oct 6, 2013
Location
Suffolk, U.K.
However Pickett did end the war with a remarkable victory at the Battle of Dinwiddie Court House on March 31st 1865 when he attacked the Federals with 10,000 Infantry & Cavalry, in driving rain and on muddy roads, and managed to push them all the way back to Dinwiddie Court House. This action showed the last flicker of a Spirit that once made the AONV seem Invincible !
 

diane

Retired User
Joined
Jan 23, 2010
Location
State of Jefferson
I've always thought Pickett suffered from the Custer Syndrome - one big loss and your whole career is flushed, then your beloved wife takes up for you with a vengeance - and manages to add to the pile. Both were good generals and had their share of good work. Pickett had to take the blame for Longstreet's Assault because the Yankees had something to do with it just like the Sioux had something to do with losing Little Big Horn.

Pickett is one of those generals I'm ambivalent about. I admire him for acknowledging his marriage to an Indian woman while in Washington, and acknowledging and supporting his son by her. That is most unusual. And, it appears to have been a real, true mutual love. He also acknowledged the validity of a tribal marriage, and made sure of it by having a church wedding as well.
 

TinCan

Captain
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Aug 20, 2011
Location
Transplanted Texan
Pickett.png
"Cause every girl crazy 'bout a sharp dressed man".
 

Rio Bravo

First Sergeant
Joined
Oct 6, 2013
Location
Suffolk, U.K.
I've always thought Pickett suffered from the Custer Syndrome - one big loss and your whole career is flushed, then your beloved wife takes up for you with a vengeance - and manages to add to the pile. Both were good generals and had their share of good work. Pickett had to take the blame for Longstreet's Assault because the Yankees had something to do with it just like the Sioux had something to do with losing Little Big Horn.

Pickett is one of those generals I'm ambivalent about. I admire him for acknowledging his marriage to an Indian woman while in Washington, and acknowledging and supporting his son by her. That is most unusual. And, it appears to have been a real, true mutual love. He also acknowledged the validity of a tribal marriage, and made sure of it by having a church wedding as well.
By Co-incidence they both graduated LAST in their respective classes at West Point! They were destined for something special to happen and it did.
 

Billy Yank

First Sergeant
Joined
May 31, 2013
Location
Putnam County, IL
Perhaps the recorders of history got it wrong, but it confounds me to read how anxious Pickett was to get into the heat of the action at Gettysburg to the extent his division's feelings had been hurt for being relatively inactive and overlooked. He was so thankful to be given the task on Day 3 and declared he would take the objective. Did he not know the enemy's disposition prior to the assault? Why blame Lee? He knew exactly what he was getting into, no?
 

Elennsar

Colonel
Joined
May 14, 2008
Location
California
Perhaps the recorders of history got it wrong, but it confounds me to read how anxious Pickett was to get into the heat of the action at Gettysburg to the extent his division's feelings had been hurt for being relatively inactive and overlooked. He was so thankful to be given the task on Day 3 and declared he would take the objective. Did he not know the enemy's disposition prior to the assault? Why blame Lee? He knew exactly what he was getting into, no?

I suspect Pickett felt that the areas of the attack that Lee and Longstreet (and Alexander, as the de facto artillery chief) were handling would allow his division and the other Confederates attacking to have a realistic chance of success.

Although if he was eager to get in, it makes him (pre-battle) complaining that a small division (read: his) would be expected to do as much as a large one and that as such he hoped it could be strengthened rather interesting.

I don't recall exactly where that is in the OR but I can search if anyone wants to read it.
 

ErnieMac

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Pennsylvania
The friendship of Pickett and Longstreet went back to the old army. During the Mexican War battle at Chapultepec Longstreet was carrying the American colors when he was wounded in the thigh after which he handed them off to Pickett who carried them forward.

I agree that Pickett's ability as a division commander was a mixed bag. He performed reasonably well at Gettysburg and Bermuda Hundred. Not so much at New Bern and Five Forks. I'm thinking that Pickett had direct supervision at the former battles, but was in overall operational command at New Bern and Five Forks. That may have made the difference.
 

Carronade

Captain
Joined
Aug 4, 2011
Location
Pennsylvania
I agree that Pickett's ability as a division commander was a mixed bag. He performed reasonably well at Gettysburg and Bermuda Hundred. Not so much at New Bern and Five Forks. I'm thinking that Pickett had direct supervision at the former battles, but was in overall operational command at New Bern and Five Forks. That may have made the difference.

Good observation. We often discuss men who did well but were promoted beyond their abilities, usually to corps or army command. Pickett illustrates a similar process at work without an actual promotion - division command within an army is very different from a division commander running a division-sized battle on his own.
 

nc native

Sergeant
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Aug 30, 2011
Location
NC Piedmont
George Pickett seemed to be a good enough brigade commander after taking command of
Cocke's brigade of Virginians in January 1862. His brigade was composed of veterans of
the fighting at First Manassas that had performed well, taking a battery during that battle.
Pickett was aggressive leading this brigade at Williamsburg and Seven Pines and earned praise
from his superiors in the chain of command.

At Gaines Mill, he was wounded leading the first of two charges his brigade made that
broke Dan Butterfield's line. He missed the rest of the fighting during the Seven Days
campaign, Second Manassas, and Antietam returning to duty in October 1862. Soon
after he was appointed to division command. His division was not heavily involved in
the fighting at Fredericksburg and missed Chancellorsville when they were detached
with Longstreet to Suffolk during that time period.

When his chance to show what he could do in charge of a division finally came at
Gettysburg, he handled his division adequately during the disastrous charge that bears
his name. After the battle, he was visibly upset at the terrible casualties he had suffered
and when he was asked by General Lee to reform his division, he stated "General, I have
no division."

After several months of recovery, he and his division were assigned to Eastern North
Carolina in the Spring of 1864. Here he was in overall command of a force that captured
Plymouth, N.C. in conjunction with Robert Hoke and help from the C.S.S. Albemarle,
an ironclad warship. He handled his division adequately although a lot of credit for the
limited Confederate success was due to Robert Hoke's performance.

Here, controversy rears it's ugly head as it will again in Pickett's career. Several N.C.
soldiers were captured who had fought for the Union forces and Pickett was livid when
he found out about this. He ordered a court marshal that resulted in the hanging of
several of these southerners who had fought against his forces. Pickett's justification
for his actions was that these men were deserters who had become traitors against
the Confederacy. This made him a marked man in the eyes of Federal officials for
possible war crimes charges after the war.

Pickett's division went on to fight well against Butler on the Peninsula, effectively
bottling his forces up there for most of 1864. His division then was routed at Five
Forks in April 1865. Pickett had been attending a party with other Confederate
officers when his men were attacked and did not get into action until the fight was
practically finished and his command was a shambles. This dereliction of duty was
unforgivable in the eyes of many of his peers and his career was practically finished.

All in all, I think he showed promise as a brigade commander, but he was not the best
choice for division command, being impulsive and lacking a cool head and self control
during crucial moments in military actions. It took a while to get to my opinion and
I apologize for getting long winded but I thought a brief summary of Pickett's career
might be helpful.
 
Joined
Mar 31, 2016
Had to go with the 3rd option.

A good brigade General. but he just was not ready for the top.

But he really never got the chance to be tested, I mean, a hopeless charge as your first real combat since the Peninsula Campaign? He missed out on Second Manassas and South Mountain where his men performed well, wonder if he would of showed good qualities if he had been engaged at Fredericksburg or Chancellorsville?
I thought that Pickett commanded the Confederate Centre at Fredericksburg, but saw little action !
 

rbasin

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Jan 31, 2013
Location
Tampa, Fl
But do you consider this representative of his career? Every general had off days of some degree of significance, which is not to pardon Pickett's absence at that battle.

Not trying to start anything, but is there a great day in the war for Pickett? I really cannot think of one.
 
Joined
Mar 31, 2016
Not trying to start anything, but is there a great day in the war for Pickett? I really cannot think of one.
March 31st 1865 was a Good Day for him at the battle of Dinwiddie Court House, where with 10,000 Infantry + Cavalry, and in driving rain & muddy roads, he managed to push the Yankees right back to the Court House - perhaps his finest moment- It was a remarkable Confederate Victory !
 
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