In the summer of 1863, this now serene battlefield saw carnage like few others.
Over the 3 days during which the battle of Gettysburg raged, between 40 and 50 thousand men, perhaps
more, became casualties of the ferocious clash. The picture above shows a view of the field of the
Pickett / Pettigrew Charge as viewed from the Confederate lines on Seminary Ridge near where the men
from North Carolina would have stood as they readied for their advance. In the distance, nearly
a mile away, General George Meade and the Army of the Potomac waited along the crest of Cemetery Ridge
before this final charge on July 3, 1863.
Union Lieutenant Frank Haskell of Major General Winfield Scott Hancock's Second Corp, would describe
the awesome site he next beheld. "Every eye could see the enemy’s legions, an overwhelming
resistless tide of an ocean of armed men sweeping upon us! Regiment after regiment and brigade after
brigade move from the woods and rapidly take their places in the line forming the assault. Pickett’s
proud division with some additional troops hold their right. The first line at short intervals is
followed by a second, and that a third succeeds; and columns between support the lines. More than
half a mile their front extends; more than a thousand yards the dull gray masses deploy, man touching
man, rank pressing rank and line supporting line. The red flags wave, their horsemen gallop up and
down; the arms of eighteen thousand men*, barrel and bayonet, gleam in the sun, a sloping forest of
flashing steel. Right on they move, as with one soul, in perfect order, without impediment of ditch
or wall or stream, over ridge and slope, through orchard and meadow and cornfield, magnificent, grim,
Of the estimated 12,500 Southern men to make this charge, about 54% became casualties. If these numbers are correct, then about
6,750 Southerners were killed, wounded, or captured in this one attack alone. As a dejected Confederate Major General George
Pickett moved back towards Seminary Ridge, General Lee met him asking him to reform his Division. General Pickett, devastated
by what he had just witnessed sullenly replied to his commander, "General Lee, I have no Division now."
In the picture above, the monument barely visible cut out section of the distant tree line just to the right of the pine tree in
mid-ground is the memorial to General Lee and the Confederate soldiers from the great state of Virginia.
* The estimated number of men in Pickett's Charge ranges from about 12,500 to about 15,000. The latter figure may have come
from General Longstreet's memoirs concerning his feelings towards Pickett's Charge. He would write that he said to General Lee,
"The fifteen thousand men who could make successful assault over that field had never been arrayed for battle."