previous next

[31] Ridge to the westward. This last ridge makes a considerable angle with the Emmettsburg road. At the point occupied by General Pickett, the crest of the ridge is about a third of a mile from the road; at the point from which Pettigrew started it is over a mile from the road.

General Pickett's line was formed about one hundred yards from and west of the Emmettsburg road, at that point occupied by Southern troops the day previous. That part of the road in Pettigrew's front was occupied by the Federal troops, and not over one hundred yards from the Federal line on the crest of Cemetery Ridge.

From the preceding it can be understood that Pickett started in his charge from the Emmettsburg road, and Pettigrew and Trimble started .from the top of Seminary Ridge. The former about three-fourths of a mile, the latter one mile and a quarter from the enemy's line.

Pickett's line being in view of the enemy at the start, and nearest to him, would naturally attract the most attention, and receive at first the severest fire from his front, and his division be the first to suffer; as the one which most threatened the enemy, and, therefore, the first to be crushed. As soon, however, as Pettigrew's and Trimble's divisions fairly appeared in the open ground at the top of Seminary Ridge, furious discharges of artillery were poured on them from the line in their front, and from their left flank by the line which overlapped them near Gettysburg. To the artillery fire was soon added that of small arms in a ceaseless storm as they marched down the smooth, even slope.

It will be easily understood that as Pickett's line was over-lapped by the Federal lines on his right, and Pettigrew and Trimble's front by the Federal lines on their left, each of these commands had a distinct and separate discharge of artillery and musketry to encounter, the one as severe and incessant as the other, although Pickett's men felt its intensity sooner than the others, and was the first to be crushed under fire, before which no troops could live, while Pettigrew and Trimble suffered as much or more before the close, because longer under fire, in consequence of marching further.

The returns of killed and wounded show that the other commands lost as heavily as Pickett's; some brigades more. Not one of my staff escaped severe wounds, and all had their horses killed.

It would have been more in accordance with military principles had Pettigrew and Trimble started fifteen minutes before Pickett, so as to have brought them all to the enemy's line at the same moment. The result would probably have been the same, yet ten or fifteen minutes

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)
hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
George E. Pickett (8)
Pettigrew (7)
I. R. Trimble (5)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: