Midpoint of the War: May to July 1863

Gettysburg: The Third Day

How long did that high-water mark moment last?

Perhaps sixty seconds. Perhaps even ninety seconds. But once it disappeared, it was gone forever.

The Federals came streaming from a higher, defensive position. Armistead went down with a fatal wound. Hundreds, then thousands, of Union men came from all directions, converging on the 300 Confederates who reached the high-water mark. The battle on the heights lasted perhaps five minutes, and when it was over all the Confederates who came that far were either killed or captured. Those who had been two hundred steps behind them were now either killed, wounded, or on the run. Pickett’s Charge started as perhaps the grandest sight ever seen on the North American continent; forty-five minutes later, it presented nothing other than a sight of ruin.


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