General George Pickett arrived with his division at Gettysburg on the evening of July 2, 1863. Pickett's division had been charged with protecting the lines of communication in the Confederate rear and were well behind the rest of the army converging on Gettysburg.
Because Pickett had the only fresh division, his men would feature prominently in the Battle of Gettysburg on July 3. Although Longstreet planned the attack of 12,000 Confederates on the Union center, Pickett's division led the attack and it would thereafter be known as "Pickett's Charge." His division would be supported by divisions from Generals Pettigrew and Trimble.
After a 2-hour Confederate artillery barrage, Longstreet waved Pickett on giving him the order to lead the charge. Pickett addressed his men with "Up, Men, and to your posts! Don't forget today that you are from Old Virginia." Pickett's division advanced forward on the right and the entire Confederate lines stretched close to a mile wide. The divisions were to advance forward toward the Union center and make a series of obliques until all divisions converged at the clump of trees.
From the moment the Confederates stepped out of the woods and began the close to one-mile advance, they were under constant artillery and musket fire. The wall of fire punished the Confederates yet they continued to advance forward. Generals Armistead, Kemper and Garnett under Pickett moved steadily toward the angle where Kemper was wounded and Garnett was mortally wounded.
Armistead's men were able to breach the wall at "The Angle" and this was considered the "High Watermark of the Confederacy." The Confederate support did not arrive however and they were quickly overwhelmed by reinforcing Union troops. Armistead was mortally wounded and the charge had failed. Over half of the more than 12,000 men who made the charge were casualties.
Pickett's charges was a disaster for the Confederate army and as they retreated, General Lee rode up to meet them saying "All this has been my fault." When Lee saw Pickett he asked him to reform his division to prepare for a Union counterattack and Pickett replied "General Lee, I have no division." George Pickett was devastated by the loss of his division and his military career went into a downturn from which it would never recover.
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