Name:Harrison Location:United States

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Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Thirty Minutes that Changed Our Country

2:00-2:30 p.m., July 3, 1863

Over 12,000 Confederates, led by Major General George Pickett, Major General Isaac R. Trimble, and Brigadier General J. Johnston Pettigrew, marched in parade ground order across this open ground into the teeth of the Union artillery and musket fire.

A modern-day photo of the "copse of trees" taken from the start of the Confederate advance

This is part of Confederate General James Longstreet’s eyewitness* account:

“The officers saluted as they passed, their stern smiles expressing confidence. General Pickett, a graceful horseman, sat lightly in the saddle, his brown locks flowing quite over his shoulders. Pettigrew's division spread their steps and quickly rectified the alignment, and the grand march moved bravely on. […]

"Confederate batteries put their fire over the heads of the men as they moved down the slope, and continued to draw the fire of the enemy until the smoke lifted and drifted to the rear, when every gun was turned upon the infantry columns. The [Union] batteries that had been drawn off were replaced by others that were fresh. Soldiers and officers began to fall, some to rise no more, others to find their way to the hospital tents. Single files were cut here and there, then the gaps increased, and an occasional shot tore wider openings, but, closing the gaps as quickly as made, the march moved on. . .”

*This eyewitness account was originally published in: Longstreet, James, From Manassas to Appomattox (1896), republished in Hart, Albert Bushnell (ed.) American History told by Contemporaries vol. 4 (1928); Reardon, Carol, Pickett’s Charge in History and Memory (1997); Sears, Stephen W., Gettysburg (2003).

posted by Harrison at 2:00 PM


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