Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Eye witness to Pickett’s Charge

BY William S. White,
Third Richmond Howitzers, First Virginia Artillery,
Second Corps, A. N. V.

Pickett’s Charge!

"Cease firing!"—our infantry is about to charge, and we anxiously gather in squads upon the brow of the hill to witness that charge that will be remembered so long as brave deeds are honored, so long as the English tongue is spoken. Boldly do the troops of Hill and Longstreet advance across the intervening space, and the infantry fight commences —nearer and nearer do they advance towards the enemy's works, and a fire such as man
never stood is poured into their devoted ranks. Some waver and fall back — as mountain mist before the summer's sun, so melts our line away. Pell mell our brave boys are driven back—the enemy leaves his works and with banners flying, rapidly advances upon our troops ; our artillery opens to cover the retreat of our troops, but for some unaccountable reason is ordered to "cease firing ‘
" Quickly our infantry are rallied in the very face of that sheet of living flame, and with a yell turn upon the enemy who break and take cover under their works. Again and again this is repeated—sometimes our men would actually be in their works, but by almost superhuman efforts the enemy would regain them, and drive our men away. Those hills, more formidable than the heights of Fredericksburg, cannot be taken, and " Pickett's
charge" has passed into history. Failure is written upon the banner of the Army of Northern Virginia, but the end is not yet.

Will the enemy attempt to take our position?—if so, he will find that the men who could make a charge can just as gallantly repel one. 'Tis useless to cause the farther effusion of blood by another attempt, and our troops gradually fall back to our former lines, not pursued by the enemy. How my bright anticipations of a brilliant victory have been dispelled by this disastrous charge!

Many, very many of our gallant soldiers have fallen, and many have been captured, but if Meade desires to find out the strength of our position, we will show him that the Army of Northern Virginia has in no manner lost confidence in Robert E. Lee, nor in itself. We do not anticipate an attack, for Meade is also terribly crippled, too much so to make an attack upon us without receiving further reinforcements. In this he has the advantage: he can wait, for reinforcements are coming to him daily ; we must fight or quit.

1 comment:

  1. Fantastic! Thanks for sharing this, Dave. Nothing like an eyewitness account to help us know what these men faced! DEO VINDICE!