General George E. Pickett
Confederate general George E. Pickett peers directly at the camera in this undated photograph that is part of the Brady-Handy Photograph Collection at the Library of Congress. Described by his admirers as swashbuckling, he was famous for his tailored uniforms, gold spurs, and shoulder-length brown hair. (His contemporary admirers were relatively few in number, however, and this heroic portrayal of Pickett is likely embellished.) Confederate general James Longstreet commented on his friend's "wondrous pulchritude and magnetic presence" and is said to have mentored Pickett, who was last in his class at West Point.
At the Battle of Gettysburg (1863), Pickett's name became permanently linked, in both fact and myth, with Pickett's Charge, the doomed frontal assault on the battle's third day. He had little responsibility for the attack's planning or its failure, and the loss of his division, which he partly blamed on Robert E. Lee, devastated him. Accused of war crimes for executing twenty-two Union prisoners in 1864, Pickett ended the war broken and in bad health. His reputation, however, was thoroughly rehabilitated after his death by his third wife LaSalle Corbell Pickett, whose writings turned the often incompetent general into an idealized Lost Cause hero.