George Edward Pickett (American National Biography)

John T. Hubbell, "Pickett, George Edward," American National Biography Online, February 2000,
Pickett's division arrived on the field at Gettysburg late on 2 July, in time for a night's rest before their famous and fateful action on 3 July. [General Robert E.] Lee believed that the fighting on 2 July had weakened the Union center, and that was his target on the third day. Pickett's division spearheaded the charge. Pickett was apparently confident of success, according to some witnesses, notwithstanding the obvious hazards his soldiers faced. After a long and largely ineffective cannonade, Pickett's men stepped off, as if on parade. Within the hour, the Confederate attack and Pickett's division were destroyed.

Lee accepted blame for the debacle, but Pickett came under severe criticism for not leading his men. Rather he was variously to the rear or elsewhere. Others defended his conduct. In either case, his morale, his spirit, and his reputation were ruined. He never recovered from that awful day, although he served in North Carolina and Virginia until relieved of his command as the war was ending.
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