Midpoint of the War: May to July 1863

Gettysburg: The Third Day

Who is our best observer for the aftermath of Pickett’s Charge?

Colonel Arthur Fremantle had been close to the action on the second day of battle, but he unaccountably missed the dramatic moment as Pickett’s men began their ascent. Arriving perhaps an hour later, he beheld nothing but the wreck of regiments, men drifting almost aimlessly. Not realizing what had transpired, he went straight to General Longstreet to say that it was all sublime: he would not have missed this for the world.

“The devil you wouldn’t!” Longstreet replied. “I would like to have missed it very much; we’ve attacked and been repulsed: look there!” Despite Longstreet’s quick outburst, Fremantle went on to say that the Confederate general could not have been calmer or more composed. He was readying his men for an expected counterattack. If Longstreet’s behavior was magnificent, then Lee’s was truly sublime. Time and again, Lee went right up to returning officers, saying, “Never mind, gentlemen, all this has been my fault—it is I who have lost this fight, and you must help me out of it in the best way you can.” Other accounts echo Colonel Fremantle; they differ only in the number of words. Several, for example, have Lee simply saying, “This is all my fault.”


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