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[653]

‘If Old Pete's nod means death, then good-bye and God bless you, little one.’ The story of the charge has been often eloquently related. The Federal artillery was supplied with ammunition in time to work havoc in the Confederate ranks—the shattered lines closed up and gained the summit of the ridge and planted the stars and bars in the Federal lines—and disappeared in a tornado of fire. Very few came back unhurt. In September, 1863, Pickett was assigned to command of the department of North Carolina, embracing Petersburg and Southern Virginia. He made a demonstration against New Bern in the latter part of January, 1864. In May he joined Lee on the North Anna, and from that time commanded his old division, Armistead's, Pickett's, Corse's and Kemper's brigades, now under Barton, Hunton, Corse and Terry, until the close of hostilities. On June 16th, Lee arrived at Drewry's bluff with Pickett's division, and witnessed the gallant recapture of the Confederate lines from Butler. He wrote to Longstreet: ‘We tried very hard to keep Pickett's men from capturing the breastworks of the enemy, but could not do it.’ He remained before Bermuda Hundred until March, 1865, when he was sent to Lynchburg to oppose Sheridan's raid, and then marched with Longstreet north of Richmond in an attempt to intercept the Federal cavalryman, whom he finally met on March 31st and April 1st at Dinwiddie Court House and Five Forks. In these hard-fought battles Pickett commanded the infantry, Fitzhugh Lee the cavalry, and as Longstreet writes: ‘His execution was all that a skillful commander could apply. Though taken by surprise, there was no panic in any part of the command. Brigade after brigade changed front to the left and received the overwhelming battle as it rolled on, until crushed back in the next. In generalship, Pickett was not a bit below the “gay rider.” ’ Reinforced too late to avoid defeat, he rallied and checked the cavalry pursuit at Amazon creek, preventing worse disaster. Here again, as at Gettysburg, he had been fated to make the decisive fight, with insufficient forces, and the inevitable followed. He marched with his division from Petersburg, escaped from the disaster at Rice's Station with 600 men of his splendid division, and finally was surrendered April 9, 1865, with the last of the army of Northern

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