to have been aware, or to have forgotten that the assaulting column was not formed parallel to the enemy's position, but decidedly oblique to it; according to General Trimble, “Pickett being about three-fourths of a mile and Pettigrew one mile and a quarter from the enemy's line.” From Colonel Taylor's position, then, to the left, the apparent drooping of Pettigrew's line and its apparent echelon advance must, I think, have been the result of his right-oblique view of the charge. Colonel Taylor is again at fault when he says “the charge was made down a gentle slope, and then up to the enemy's lines, a distance of over half a mile, denuded of forests, and in full sight of the enemy and perfect range of their artillery. These combined causes produced their natural effect upon Pettigrew's division and the brigades supporting itcaused them to falter, and finally retire. Then Pickett's division, continuing the charge, without supports and in sight of the enemy, was not half so formidable or effective as it would have been had trees or hills prevented the enemy from so correctly estimating the strength of the attacking column, and our own troops from experiencing that sense of weakness which the known absence of support necessarily produced. In spite of all this it steadily and gallantly advanced to its allotted task.” Why “to falter and finally retire,” from the causes enumerated, should have been the “natural effect” upon Heth's division, under the noble and gallant Pettigrew, and Lane's and Scales' brigades, under that old hero Trimble, who lost a leg in the charge, and not upon Pickett's command, is something that I cannot comprehend. I know, however, personally, that my old brigade, in all its glorious achievements, never behaved more gallantly than on that terrible and bloody battle-field. As General Trimble says, “the truth is, Pickett's, Pettigrew's, and Trimble's divisions were literally shot to pieces, and the small remnants who broke the first Federal line were too feeble to hold what they had gained,” and as he also adds, from close personal observation, “notwithstanding the losses as we advanced, the men (in Lane's and Scales' brigades) marched with the deliberation and accuracy of men on drill.” In that much-talked — of and generally misunderstood charge, my brigade were as much the “heroes of Gettysburg” as any other troops that took part in it, and when we were driven back we were among the first to re-form, and we did so immediately in rear of the artillery, and not at the hospitals.
Yours, very respectfully, James H. Lane.