My personal musings about anything that gets on my radar screen--heavily dominated by politics.


This Day In History 

Growing up, I heard about a mythical event called "Pickett's Charge," but I had no idea what it actually was. Come to think of it, that same dynamic is true of a great deal of American History.

Yes, I was educated in public schools.

It was only later that I learned exactly what Pickett's Charge actually was--a suicide mission.

From Hearts in Conflict:

. . . the men in gray and butternut charged forward, firing as they advanced, someof them driving away defenders where stone walls made an angle pointing the Confederates' way.

Lewis Armistead saw the chance of breaking through. Still holding his sabe with his hat impaled on its point, he got over the stone wall and looked back at maybe 300 me left of the 15,000 or so. "Come on, boys!" the old soldier shouted. "Give them the cold steel! Follow me!"

Follow Armistead they did, seeing amid he smoke his hat up there on the sword agead of them, charging upslope directly into point-blank canister fire from a battery whose commander was dead, shot through the mouth giving his final order. Lewis Armistead got as far as those guns. Down clattered the gallan general's saber, his hand still grasping it. He died with his other hand gripping the muzzle of a Yankee cannon.

So, at the moment of truth, it was Armistead's charge . . . yet it would be called Pickett's and remembered ever afterward as a failure. Armistead would be forgotten; Pickett, blamed.

The Union Army never launched the expected counterattack, or the war might have ended on that battlefield. Nonetheless, the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia was never again able to mount a credible offensive, and General Robert E. Lee surrendered his Army just shy of nine months later.

Of General George Pickett, this last hurrah was the end of his functional command. Of thirteen colonels in his command that day, 7 are dead, the other 6 wounded; the casualties to his Division exceed 60 percent. The infamous "Charge" bears his name, but the orders came straight from Lee, and the immediate commander (who objected to the plan all along) was General Longstreet, though neither of them are quite as graced with a historical moniker.

Sundown on July 3rd saw 7,000 Americans dead, 33,000 wounded and another 10,000 missing. Remarkably, this was by no means the bloodiest of the Civil War battles, but it was more significant from an historical perspective.

7,000 dead in three days.

What price freedom?

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