Midpoint of the War: May to July 1863

Gettysburg: The Third Day

Who was most on the spot on July 3, 1863?

The honor has to go to Brigadier-General George Pickett (1825–1875), the leader of one of the divisions of Longstreet’s First Corps. Like George A. Custer—whose star was rapidly ascending—George Pickett had graduated dead last in his West Point class. He was believed to be a very tough fighter, though, and, like Custer, he made the most of his physical appearance. Both men wore earrings, elegant hats, and wildly colored clothing.

By the morning of July 3, Pickett knew that General Lee expected him and his Virginians to attack the very center of the Union line and break it.

This assignment was a very tall order, not least because the Confederates would have to advance across slightly more than a mile of wide-open countryside. This was, in fact, the type of attack that Lee had so many times suckered his federal opponents into making, but on this day he was adamant.


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