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Lee Attacks Union Center (The Baltimore Sun)
 

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    Lee Attacks Union Center (The Baltimore Sun) Lee Attacks Union Center (The Baltimore Sun) Document Transcript

    • Lee attacks Union center - Baltimore Sun Page 1 of 1 Advertisement You are here: Sun Home → Collections → Confederate FIND MORE STORIES ABOUT Lee attacks Union center Pickett's Charge: The culminating event of the Gettysburg re-enactment will be a portrayal of the Army of Confederate Northern Virginia's almost mythical charge into death and history. Re-enactment Gettysburg : A Remembrance July 04, 1999 | By Jacqueline Durett | Jacqueline Durett,Special to the Sun FEATURED ARTICLES This weekend's re-enactment of the Civil War battle at Gettysburg, Pa., will culminate with a portrayal of Pickett's Re-enactors to mark epic Civil War... Charge at 2 p.m. today. The re-enactment battleground is at Bushey Farm, southwest of Gettysburg. August 3, 2003 Armistead pierces Union line Pickett's Charge ended the three-day battle at Gettysburg in 1863 and marked the beginning of a series of June 23, 2002 Confederate defeats as the Southern invasion force withdrew. Hancock held Cemetery Ridge After two days of victorious fighting at Gettysburg, Gen. Robert E. Lee, the Confederate commander in chief, decided June 27, 2004 to do something drastic. He stayed up all night before the third day, July 3, 1863, and came up with the idea to first bombard the federal troops with a heavy cannonade. Once they were weakened, the Confederates would charge them. This charge became one of the most famous attacks in American history. Advertisement 'Invincible' Lee thought the plan -- the initial bombardment and the subsequent charge -- was going to be another in the chain of successes that the Confederates had had. Rich Rollins, editor of "Pickett's Charge: Eyewitness Accounts" and several scholarly essays on aspects of the charge, explained, "He had beaten his opponents at virtually every battle. The victory at Chancellorsville in May 1863 was among his most spectacular. He had soundly trounced an army about twice the size of his own." Rollins cited Lee's letter to Maj. Gen. John Bell Hood, one of his division commanders, in which Lee called his troops "invincible." Steve Wright, curator of collections at the Civil War Museum in Philadelphia, said that Lee had good reason to believe in this invincibility. Before Gettysburg, "Lee's army had basically been successful in everything that they tried," he said. Michael Cheeks, author of the essay "Nothing But Glory Gained," contends that Lee had a clear vision for July 3. "Lee's newest plan remained simple: A tremendous bombardment by all available Confederate artillery was to sweep the Union line around the trees, while Southern infantry would remain behind Seminary Ridge, out of sight of the enemy. As soon as the artillery was finished, the infantry would march down the hill, across the valley and break the federal line, splitting the Army of the Potomac in half." There were three divisions of troops going into the charge, although many historians disagree about how many men were involved. Pickett, Pettigrew, Trimble 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | Next Index by Keyword | Index by Date | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service http://articles.baltimoresun.com/1999-07-04/news/9907060239_1_battle-at-gettysburg-pickett-s-charge-lee 3/26/2010
    • Lee attacks Union center - Baltimore Sun - Page 2 Page 1 of 1 Advertisement You are here: Sun Home → Collections → Confederate FIND MORE STORIES ABOUT Lee attacks Union center Pickett's Charge: The culminating event of the Gettysburg re-enactment will be a portrayal of the Army of Confederate Northern Virginia's almost mythical charge into death and history. Re-enactment Gettysburg : A Remembrance July 04, 1999 | By Jacqueline Durett | Jacqueline Durett,Special to the Sun FEATURED ARTICLES (Page 2 of 5) Re-enactors to mark epic Civil War... August 3, 2003 Carol Reardon, associate professor of American history at Pennsylvania State University, said, "There were few estimates right after the fight and they varied wildly, some almost suggesting that Lee's whole army made the charge. Armistead pierces Union line ... In the 1870s and 1900s, 17,000 seemed to be the standard number ... but in recent years [since 1960], that June 23, 2002 number has been reduced to somewhere between 10,500 and 13,500. The bottom line is, we don't know for sure. Hancock held Cemetery Ridge And we never will." June 27, 2004 Confederate losses in killed, wounded and captured during the attack are estimated at 60 percent. In the charge, Maj. Gen. George E. Pickett commanded three Virginia brigades while Brig. Gen. James J. Pettigrew and the newly assigned Maj. Gen. Isaac Ridgeway Trimble headed the rest, a mixture of men from all over the South. Advertisement But there was a distinguishing difference between Pickett's men and the combined forces of Trimble and Pettigrew, all of which were under the command of Lt. Gen. James Longstreet. "Unlike Pickett's fresh troops, almost all of Pettigrew's and Trimble's units had fought and suffered severe losses on the battle's first day," said Michael Taylor, who has written two books and several articles about the Battle of Gettysburg, with the main focus being the charge. Cheeks added that Lee was quite aware of this. "He saw, with dismay, that many of the soldiers were sporting bandages. 'Many of these poor boys should go to the rear,' [Lee] said. 'They are not able for duty.' But none left. ... They stayed with their regiments." Stationed at Seminary Ridge, the Southern troops were a half-mile from Union forces on Cemetery Ridge. It was from here that the Confederates started the first phase, the assault. Wright said that low visibility was one of the prime reasons that the Confederates didn't accomplish what they wanted to do in the first phase. "The guns they used in those days fired black powder," Wright said. "Smoke clouded the vision of almost anybody." Reardon, in her book "Pickett's Charge in History and Memory," wrote: "Smoke and sheer number of horses and men on the field also made it difficult for any single individual to see much that day." "After two hours, the federal forces stopped firing, and all Union guns went silent, leading Lee to think that he had been successful in the first part of his assault. One would naturally think that," Wright explained. Prev | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | Next Index by Keyword | Index by Date | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service http://articles.baltimoresun.com/1999-07-04/news/9907060239_1_battle-at-gettysburg-pickett-s-charge-lee/2 3/26/2010
    • Lee attacks Union center - Baltimore Sun - Page 3 Page 1 of 1 Advertisement You are here: Sun Home → Collections → Confederate FIND MORE STORIES ABOUT Lee attacks Union center Pickett's Charge: The culminating event of the Gettysburg re-enactment will be a portrayal of the Army of Confederate Northern Virginia's almost mythical charge into death and history. Re-enactment Gettysburg : A Remembrance July 04, 1999 | By Jacqueline Durett | Jacqueline Durett,Special to the Sun FEATURED ARTICLES (Page 3 of 5) Re-enactors to mark epic Civil War... August 3, 2003 But what really happened was that the Confederates' aim wasn't on target -- most shells were what Wright described as "flying harmlessly over the ridge," over the heads of the Union troops. Armistead pierces Union line June 23, 2002 Thinking themselves successful, the Confederates prepared for the second part of Lee's plan -- the charge. Lee gave Hancock held Cemetery Ridge the command to attack the Union center at Cemetery Ridge. Rollins explained, "With Longstreet and at least a dozen June 27, 2004 other subordinates, Lee spent from about 4:45 a.m. until at least 11 a.m. planning it. Longstreet was in charge of organizing the infantry. He gave Pickett the order to begin moving." Kent Gramm, author of the book "Gettysburg," wrote that the command process wasn't that simple. "Longstreet was so against the assault, and so upset that it had to be made -- and by him -- that he couldn't bring himself to give the actual order," Gramm said. He passed authority onto Chief of Artillery Edward P. Alexander, who gave the command to Pickett to move. Advertisement Cheeks confirmed this. He wrote, "As Longstreet and Pickett watched the cannonade from the south end of Seminary Ridge, a messenger galloped up from Alexander. 'If you are coming at all you must come immediately or I cannot give you proper support,' Alexander had written. Slowly and carefully, Longstreet read the message. 'General, shall I advance?' Pickett asked. Longstreet gave no reply; he simply nodded his head and looked away. 'I shall lead my division forward, sir,' Pickett responded." A complex maneuver No one is really sure exactly what time the charge started, but Rollins said that "most think it began at 3 p.m. It was perhaps the most complex maneuver Lee had ever organized and included not only the infantry charge, but very specific actions by the artillery and cavalry, timed to coincide with the infantry." The charge had an unusual quality -- the troops headed toward Cemetery Ridge at an angle to the enemy, not attacking head on. "We moved alternately by the front and by the left flank under a most deadly fire of infantry and artillery," wrote Capt. William W. Bentley of the 24th Virginia Regiment. Reardon said the men, marching formally, as if in a parade while under fire, illustrated the determination of the South, and perplexed the North. "Despite a stout resistance, the Southerners did not retreat, they did not immediately return fire, and they seemed to march on purposefully and with stalwart determination, first east, then north, then east again. This unnerved Union commanders," she explained. But the Union men were not so unnerved as to let the Confederate strategy defeat them. Prev | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | Next Index by Keyword | Index by Date | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service http://articles.baltimoresun.com/1999-07-04/news/9907060239_1_battle-at-gettysburg-pickett-s-charge-lee/3 3/26/2010
    • Lee attacks Union center - Baltimore Sun - Page 4 Page 1 of 1 Advertisement You are here: Sun Home → Collections → Confederate FIND MORE STORIES ABOUT Lee attacks Union center Pickett's Charge: The culminating event of the Gettysburg re-enactment will be a portrayal of the Army of Confederate Northern Virginia's almost mythical charge into death and history. Re-enactment Gettysburg : A Remembrance July 04, 1999 | By Jacqueline Durett | Jacqueline Durett,Special to the Sun FEATURED ARTICLES (Page 4 of 5) Re-enactors to mark epic Civil War... August 3, 2003 Once Confederates hit canister range, the Union fought back. Once the Union started firing, those Confederates who had made it to the Union line engaged in heavy battle. Armistead pierces Union line June 23, 2002 All but one brigade made the effort to get to the Union line. Taylor said, "Only one of the nine brigades in the charge Hancock held Cemetery Ridge bolted and ran to the rear about halfway across the mile or so of open ground between Seminary and Cemetery June 27, 2004 Ridges during the charge, General Brockenbrough's Brigade of Virginians on the far left wing of the attacking Confederate force. All other Confederate units advanced bravely to the attack and fell back only after being repulsed. Pickett's Virginians, forming the right side of the assaulting force, made it up to and, in some cases, into the Union line at the Angle." Taylor said that once the Confederates crossed the milestone of Emmitsburg Road and made it to the Union line, a different kind of fighting began -- hand-to-hand. Advertisement A burst of action This burst of action happened quickly, though. The actual charge was quite short in Rollins' estimation. "It's very hard to conclude the actual time involved. Time was not standardized until the 1870s, and thus watches were not set to the same time. The charge itself probably took no more than 15 minutes to reach the slope of Cemetery Hill. How long it lasted is anyone's guess. Veterans claimed anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes. My guess is that it was no more than 10 minutes." This was no haphazard charge, though, as Taylor asserted that there was a great deal of order to it: "The Confederates' advance was probably their most orderly maneuver on a field of battle in the whole war. Lines were kept carefully dressed, closing up when a cannon ball knocked down men, causing a gap." But when the men finally made it to the Union line, it is unclear what took place. Rollins said, "Exactly what happened then is a matter of dispute. Some Confederates crossed the wall and captured federal guns, and hand-to-hand fighting took place from the Angle to a spot south of the copse of trees." But the Confederate troops did accomplish one goal in the charge -- they did break the Union line's center. In the last three minutes, most of the men who had made it were at the line. Though it seemed like a win was possible, such was not the case. The miscalculation of the attack earlier that day and a subsequent lack of additional manpower caused the charge to fail. Prev | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | Next Index by Keyword | Index by Date | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service http://articles.baltimoresun.com/1999-07-04/news/9907060239_1_battle-at-gettysburg-pickett-s-charge-lee/4 3/26/2010
    • Lee attacks Union center - Baltimore Sun - Page 5 Page 1 of 2 Advertisement You are here: Sun Home → Collections → Confederate FIND MORE STORIES ABOUT Lee attacks Union center Pickett's Charge: The culminating event of the Gettysburg re-enactment will be a portrayal of the Army of Confederate Northern Virginia's almost mythical charge into death and history. Re-enactment Gettysburg : A Remembrance July 04, 1999 | By Jacqueline Durett | Jacqueline Durett,Special to the Sun FEATURED ARTICLES (Page 5 of 5) Re-enactors to mark epic Civil War... August 3, 2003 Rich Kohr, a re-enactment narrator at the Gettysburg National Military Museum, said, "They started to suffer some fairly high casualties. ... They simply didn't have the numbers in manpower." Armistead pierces Union line June 23, 2002 Wright gave another reason the charge wasn't successful: "The assault didn't work because the Union troops held Hancock held Cemetery Ridge firm." June 27, 2004 Trimble, who commanded two North Carolina brigades, was injured during the charge, which led to his being taken prisoner and attests to the dangerous nature of such a charge. He wrote, "I had cause to wonder how any one could escape wounds or death." Advertisement "When the charge was over, Lee knew that he had lost Gettysburg," Rollins explained. "After the charge Union commander Maj. Gen. George G. Meade rode south to an area just north of Little Round Top and tried to organize the counterattack he had planned, but the troops were too scattered and it was too late in the day. Lee's men walked back across the valley to the woods on Seminary Ridge. Lee stood there and spoke to many of them, saying things like 'It's all my fault.' A few hours later Lee began to organize his retreat to Virginia." Reardon said that the failure of the charge, which ended Gettysburg, marked the beginning of the Confederates' downfall. "The big issue here isn't really 'winning or losing,' but more the issue of whether or not Lee could continue to attack or had to be forced to stay on the defensive to protect his dwindling numbers," Reardon said. Despite the number of people involved in the charge, it might seem odd that it is attributed to Pickett. This is because, according to Rollins, "Pickett was the field commander, the one in charge as it took place. Also, that is what the men involved on the Southern side began calling it immediately after it ended and continued to do so, by and large, as long as they lived." A misnomer The name of the charge, many historians feel, is a misnomer, since Pickett was one of three generals in charge of Confederate forces. Wright explained, "It's often called the 'Pickett-Pettigrew-Trimble charge' or 'Longstreet's Second Assault.' ... Historians are trying to make it more accurate." Rollins added, "After the battle men from Virginia and North Carolina began arguing over several aspects of the charge, and the North Carolinians insisted that it be called something other than Pickett's Charge to indicate that all those involved were not Virginians." But Wright concluded, "It will always be known as Pickett's Charge." Today's schedule Sunday, July 4 * 8:30 a.m.: Gates and camps open. * 9 a.m.: Period worship service * 9:30 a.m.: Field music * 10 a.m.: Infantry drill and tactics demonstration * 11 a.m.: Mortar fire competition * Noon: Cavalry review and demonstration * 1 p.m.: Fife and drum presentation * 2 p.m.: Pickett's Charge http://articles.baltimoresun.com/1999-07-04/news/9907060239_1_battle-at-gettysburg-pickett-s-charge-lee/5 3/26/2010
    • Lee attacks Union center - Baltimore Sun - Page 5 Page 2 of 2 Pub Date: 07/04/99 Prev | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 Index by Keyword | Index by Date | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service http://articles.baltimoresun.com/1999-07-04/news/9907060239_1_battle-at-gettysburg-pickett-s-charge-lee/5 3/26/2010