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Where Pickett charged The prelude to Pickett's magnificent charge was a sudden deluge of shells from 159 long-range Confederate guns trained upon Cemetery Ridge. General Meade and his staff were instantly driven from their headquarters (already illustrated) and within five minutes the concentrated artillery fire had swept every unsheltered position on Cemetery Ridge clear of men. In the woods, a mile and a half distant, Pickett and his men watched the effect of the bombardment, expecting the order to “Go forward” up the slope (shown in the picture). The Federals had instantly opened with their eighty available guns, and for three hours the most terrific artillery duel of the war was kept up. Then the Federal fire slackened, as though the batteries were silenced. The Confederates' artillery ammunition also was now low. “For God's sake, come on!” was the word to Pickett. And at Longstreet's reluctant nod the commander led his 14,000 Virginians across the plain in their tragic charge up Cemetery Ridge.

General L. A. Armistead, C. S. A. In that historic charge was Armistead, who achieved a momentary victory and met a hero's death. On across the Emmitsburg road came Pickett's dauntless brigades, coolly closing up the fearful chasms torn in their ranks by the canister. Up to the fence held by Hays' brigade dashed the first gray line, only to be swept into confusion by a cruel enfilading fire. Then the brigades of Armistead and Garnett moved forward, driving Hays' brigade back through the batteries on the crest. Despite the death-dealing bolts on all sides, Pickett determined to capture the guns; and, at the order, Armistead, leaping the fence and waving his cap on his sword-point, rushed forward, followed by about a hundred of his men. Up to the very crest they fought the Federals back, and Armistead, shouting, “Give them the cold steel, boys!” seized one of the guns. For a moment the Confederate flag waved triumphantly over the Federal battery. For a brief interval the fight raged fiercely at close quarters. Armistead was shot down beside the gun he had taken, and his men were driven back. Pickett, as he looked around the top of the ridge he had gained, could see his men fighting all about with clubbed muskets and even flagstaffs against the troops that were rushing in upon them from all sides. Flesh and blood could not hold the heights against such terrible odds, and with a heart full of anguish Pickett ordered a retreat. The despairing Longstreet, watching from Seminary Ridge, saw through the smoke the shattered remnants drift sullenly down the slope and knew that Pickett's glorious but costly charge was ended.

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George E. Pickett (9)
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George Gordon Meade (1)
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