Battle of Gettysburg

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1863 Jul 3 15:00 - Jul 3 16:00

Pickett's Charge

Cemetery Ridge, Gettysburg, PA

Around 3 p.m.,[106] the cannon fire subsided, and between 10,500 and 12,500 Southern soldiers stepped from the ridgeline and advanced the three-quarters of a mile (1,200 m) to Cemetery Ridge.[107] A more accurate name for the charge would be the "Pickett–Pettigrew–Trimble Charge" after the commanders of the three divisions taking part in the charge, but the role of Pickett's division has led to the attack generally being known as "Pickett's Charge".[108] As the Confederates approached, there was fierce flanking artillery fire from Union positions on Cemetery Hill and the Little Round Top area,[109] and musket and canister fire from Hancock's II Corps.[110] In the Union center, the commander of artillery had held fire during the Confederate bombardment (in order to save it for the infantry assault, which Meade had correctly predicted the day before), leading Southern commanders to believe the Northern cannon batteries had been knocked out. However, they opened fire on the Confederate infantry during their approach with devastating results.[111]

Although the Union line wavered and broke temporarily at a jog called the "Angle" in a low stone fence, just north of a patch of vegetation called the Copse of Trees, reinforcements rushed into the breach, and the Confederate attack was repelled. The farthest advance, by Brigadier General Lewis A. Armistead's brigade of Pickett's division at the Angle, is referred to as the "high-water mark of the Confederacy".[112] Union and Confederate soldiers locked in hand-to-hand combat, attacking with their rifles, bayonets, rocks and even their bare hands. Armistead ordered his Confederates to turn two captured cannons against Union troops, but discovered that there was no ammunition left, the last double canister shots having been used against the charging Confederates. Armistead was mortally wounded shortly afterward. Nearly one half of the Confederate attackers did not return to their own lines.[113] Pickett's division lost about two thirds of its men, and all three brigadiers were killed or wounded.[111]

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