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The charge of Pickett, Pettigrew, and Trimble.1

by J. B. Smith.
In an address delivered by Colonel Andrew Cowan to his comrades at Gettysburg on the 3d of July, 1886, he, like nearly every other speaker and writer, ascribes all the praise of the Confederate charge of the third day to Pickett's division. He says: “Beyond the wall nothing but the gray-clad Virginians.” He speaks of no other troops except Pickett's. Some writers have gone so far as to say Pickett made the immortal charge with five thousand Virginians, etc. Pickett's division was fresh, not having engaged the enemy on the first or second day, while the other troops of the assaulting body fought on the previous days with unsurpassed bravery, and some of the brigades were almost annihilated.

The grand assaulting column was formed in three divisions, and the divisions were commanded and led to the slaughter by Pickett, Pettigrew, and Trimble.

General George E. Pickett's division, composed of three brigades commanded by Generals Richard B. Garnett, Lewis A. Armistead, and James L. Kemper, was 4900 strong. Garnett fell during the progress of the charge while at the head of his column urging his men on. Armistead led his men through the terrific storm of battle to the base of the Federal works, and there he placed his cap on his sword and scaled the wall, appealing to his troops to follow him. A few of his disorganized men imitated his heroic example, and died at his feet. General Kemper was wounded in the charge.

General J. Johnston Pettigrew's command embraced the following brigades: Archer's Tennessee brigade, commanded by Colonel Fry, of the 13th Alabama; Pettigrew's North Carolina brigade, Jo Davis's Mississippi brigade, and Brock-enbrough's brigade of Virginians, aggregating five thousand troops. All were of Heth's division of A. P. Hill's corps. General Pettigrew was wounded in the charge, but he did not quit the field, and remained in command until he fell at Falling Waters.

I will now notice the conduct of Archer's Tennessee brigade. It opened the battle on the first day and lost its brave and gallant commander. While leading his men he was captured by a flank movement made by the enemy. The brigade suffered heavy losses in other ways on that day. When the grand assault was made on the 3d, the 1st and 7th Tennessee regiments made the first breach in the Federal works on Cemetery Hill, and they were the only organized regiments that entered into and beyond the enemy's walls.

The 14th Tennessee, after losing heavily on the first day, went into the grand charge with 375 men, and planted its colors on the stone wall and left them there. The heroic conduct of the 13th Alabama in that awful and trying scene has been carefully written up, and the record is in the archives of the Southern Historical Society, in its native State, and will be loved and admired as long as heroism is admired. It was Archer's worn, tattered, and bleeding brigade that fought the last [355] battle north of the Potomac — the battle of Falling, Waters--where the lamented Pettigrew fell.

Davis's Mississippi brigade, that fought so gallantly on the first day, and crossed bayonets with the Iron Brigade, had a prominent part in the grand charge. The 2d Mississippi of that brigade lost half of its men on that day, but was still intact, ready and willing to fight, and its courage in the great charge has become a matter of history. Its battle-flag is in the possession of the old color-bearer, who lives at Blossom Prairie, Texas, and has the names of more than a score of battles stamped on it.

Scales's and Lane's North Carolina brigades, commanded by General Isaac R. Trimble, belonged to General W. D. Pender's division of A. P. Hill's corps, and were 2500 strong. General Pender was mortally wounded on the second day. When General Lee saw the men of Scales's brigade, bleeding from wounds received on the first day, he said, “Many of these poor fellows should go to the rear.” When a brigade would fight under such circumstances as Scales's did, it ought not to be robbed of its military fame. General Trimble was wounded in the charge.

Prairie Grove, Tex.

1 from the “bivouac” of march, 1887, and editorially revised.--editors.

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