This Day In History: Pickett’s Charge and the End of the Battle of Gettysburg
Following a decisive Confederate victory at the Battle of Chancellorsville, General Robert E. Lee brought his battle to the North in an attempt to draw Union forces away from Washington and Virginia. On July 1, what is known in legend as the turning point of the Civil War (it’s not), the Battle of Gettysburg began. Confederate armies had the benefit of surprise with their attack at Gettysburg, but their main charge was held off until 4:00 p.m. on July 2, giving the Union lines time to form. On July 3, 1863, Confederate forces made a grand attempt to break Union lines that became known as Pickett’s Charge. 15,000 Confederate forces attacked the center of the Union lines, facing strong artillery and 10,000 Union forces. While the main attack was at the center, Union regiments began to flank the Confederate lines, forcing them to break apart. Within an hour of the attack, 7,000 Confederates had been wounded or captured. Both sides exhausted, the Union forces held their lines until General Lee withdrew his troops on July 4th.
Many see the Battle of Gettysburg as the turning point in the war. In actuality, this is what is known as today as “East Coast Bias.” The battle was fought near many of the important Union papers, which in turn caused much more press then many of the other important battles, such as Antietam and Shiloh. Although still an important batte, Gettysburg is a good place to start when thinking how the Civil War has developed in Myth in the 150 years since.
Another big promoter of Gettysburg was a person trying to salvage a reputation for her Husband, LaSalle Corbell Pickett.
She was instrumental in the creation of the “Lost Cause’ mythology in the United States when she romanticized her husband’s charge at Gettysburg (which was neither the largest or dumbest frontal assault on an entrenched enemy by the South during the war).
Sally published a book, Pickett and his Men, and toured the country as a Southern Belle trope giving speeches, promoting him, and the notion of the chivalrous South and a war over state’s rights.
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