Pickett's ChargeThe drifting of Pickett's division to the left exposed the flank of his right brigade
Posted 03 July 2012 - 01:40 PM
Major General George E. Pickett (Library of Congress)
Isaac R. Pennypacker
It was at one o'clock that two Confederate signal guns were fired, and at once there opened such an artillery combat as the armies had never before seen. As a spectacle, the fire from the two miles of Confederate batteries, stretching from the town of Gettysburg southward, was appalling; but practically the Confederate fire was too high, and most of the damage was done behind the ridge on which the Army of the Potomac was posted, although the damage along the ridge was also great. The little house just over the crest where Meade had his headquarters, and to which he had gone from Gibbon's luncheon, was torn with shot and shell. The army commander stood in the open doorway as a cannon shot, almost grazing his legs, buried itself in a box standing on the portico by the door. There were two small rooms on the ground floor of the house, and in the room where Meade had met his corps commanders the night before were a bed in the corner, a small pine table in the center, upon it a wooden pail of water, a tin drinking cup, and the remains of a melted tallow candle held upright by its own grease, that had served to light the proceedings of last night's council of war. One Confederate shell bust in the yard among the horses tied to the fence; nearly a score of dead horses lay along this fence, close to the house. One shell tore up the steps of the house; one carried away the supports of the portico; one went through the door, and another through the garret. It was impossible for aids to report or for orders to be given from the center of so much noise and confusion, and the little house was abandoned as a headquarters, to be turned, after the firing was over, into a hospital.
During the cannonade the infantry of Meade's army lay upon the ground behind the crest. By General Hunt's direction the Union artillery fire, with the exception of that of the Second Corps batteries, was reserved for a quarter of an hour and then concentrated upon the most destructive batteries of the foe. After half an hour both Meade and his chief of artillery started messengers along the line to stop the firing, with the idea of reserving the ammunition for the infantry assault, which they well knew would soon be made. On the other side, Alexander sent word to Pickett to come quickly, and the Confederate assault began.
Crossing the depression of the ground, a part of the Confederate line, after emerging from the woods, found a moment's rest and shelter, and then started toward the little umbrella-shaped clump of trees on the Union line, said to have been pointed out by Lee as the objective of the assault. On the left Pettigrew's division of four brigades advanced in one line, with Trimble's two brigades of Lane and Scales in the rear and right as supports. Pickett's division on the right advanced with Read More http://www.civilwar.org/battlefields/gettysburg/gettysburg-history-articles/picketts-charge.html
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