Midpoint of the War: May to July 1863
Gettysburg: The Third Day
Was it not Longstreet’s decision and responsibility?
Beyond any doubt. Most accounts agree that when Pickett received Alexander’s note, he went straight to Longstreet to ask whether he should commence the attack. Most accounts concur that Longstreet would not say “yes” or “no,” but only nodded.
Pickett then galloped along the mile and a quarter line of his men, who, till now, had been sheltered in the woods. Whether he shouted “Up men, and to your posts,” or something to that effect, is not very important: what matters is they knew the moment had come. As they rose to begin their march, Pickett’s men found many of their fellows unable to join them. Quite a few had been killed or wounded during the counterbombardment, but others were simply too terrified to rise. They knew this was a desperate venture.