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Their nerve.

I believe if those men had been told: ‘This day your lives will pay the penalty of your attack upon the Federal lines,’ they would have made the charge just as it was made. There was no straggling, no feigned sickness, no pretence of being overcome by the intense heat; every man felt that it was his duty to make that fight; that he was his own commander, and they would have made the charge without an officer of any description; they only needed to be told what they were expected to do. This is as near the feeling of the men of Pickett's Division on the morning of the battle as I can give, and with this feeling they went to their work. Many of them were veteran soldiers, who had followed the little cross of stars from Big Bethel to Gettysburg; they knew their own power, and they knew the temper of their adversary; they had often met before, and they knew the meeting before them would be desperate and deadly.

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George E. Pickett (1)
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