Gettysburg - Pickett's Charge

July 3, 1863


From Emmitsburg Road

    Many of the Confederate casualties of the attack would be buried along the Emmitsburg Road, visible on either side of the picture, and many Confederates had either turned back before they reached the road, or advanced no further.  Here, from just east of the Emmitsburg Road you can see the area of the final stages of the attack.  After crossing the Emmitsburg Road, the Confederates halted momentarily and dressed ranks for the final stage of the attack.  As the Confederates approached the ridge, the tenacious Union skirmishers had fallen back to the main line after forcing the Confederates to fire.  The two North Carolina divisions attacked toward the ridge to the left of the Angle.  They were flanked by Union troops who pivoted the line near the Bryan farm, extending it down to the road, where it linked up with additional Union troops near the Bliss farm.

    Near the center you can see a raised area marking rough terrain in front of the Copse of Trees.  This rough terrain in general separated Garnett and Armistead to its left, from Kemper on its right.  The diagonal fence also served to hinder the advance, and the Confederates became disorganized.  As Kemper's brigade approached the ridge, it was flanked by Stannard's Vermont brigade to their right.  Stannard's original position is marked by the column to the right of the rough terrain. 

    After the charge had failed, the Confederate brigades of Wilcox and Perry attacked further right near the thicket but were flanked on their left and repulsed by Stannard.  The group of trees near the road marks the Codori farm, an area of slightly higher ground where Pickett is thought to have observed the attack. 

Pettigrew and Trimble Flanked

    To simplify, let us proceed roughly north to south along the Union line.  The white buildings in the center are the Bryan Farm, and the Cyclorama is blocked by the new monument on the left.  The Union line extended from here roughly along the road to the Bryan Farm and beyond.  In May 2002, the motel on the Emmitsburg Road on the far right was purchased by the Friends of the National Parks at Gettysburg for $1.2 million.  It was donated to the park and demolished.  The 8th Ohio was deployed as skirmishers near there in advance of the main Union line.  From there, they advanced to the Bliss farm, harassing the advancing Confederates, breaking an entire brigade, and severely damaging another.  As the attack neared the main line, the Confederates suffered from enfilade artillery fire from near here.  The 126th NY Regiment and two guns then swung out to flank the rebels, meeting the skirmishers and 8th Ohio, and therefore extending the flanking line beyond the Emmitsburg Road.

Union Line Vs. Pettigrew and Trimble

This stone wall marks the main Union line to the south of the Bryan Farm, visible on the far right.  The Angle and the Copse of Trees are visible in the middleground.  Although somewhat difficult to see, the slope actually extends to the far left of the picture, but the main line was on the "military crest" with the best field of fire.  As we've seen, Pettigrew and Trimble's divisions were met by flanking fire, but many of the men continued the advance.  They were met by a withering fire from the stone wall that left many of them killed and wounded on the field.  Along the whole width of the attack it was not uncommon for entire color guards to be hit.  Several Confederate flags were captured when enterprising Federals crossed the fence and rushed to pick up a dropped standard, entitling him to a Medal of Honor - if he could protect his trophy from unethical comrades.  There was no threatening penetration of the Union line here, but it is claimed that Pettigrew's men reached as far forward as Pickett's men did.  Indeed, the casualties here were also shocking.  For example, the 26th North Carolina of Pettigrew's division had been heavily involved on the first day.  By the end of Pickett's Charge, it had 70 men left of the 895 who started the battle.    

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