Media: Slideshow

Pickett's Charge

Picketts charge on the Union centre at the grove of trees about 3 PM

This painting by Edwin Forbes depicts Pickett's Charge, which took place on July 3, 1863, the final day of the Battle of Gettysburg. The scene is from the perspective of the Confederates, who were looking east toward Union troops located in the distance atop Cemetery Ridge. As the Confederates methodically marched forward across nearly three-quarters of a mile of open field, the Union soldiers fired on them, causing massive casualties.

Forbes was a New York City–born artist who worked as a sketch artist during the Civil War for Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper. He observed a number of battles firsthand and, after the war, made paintings based on his sketches, including multiple scenes of Pickett's Charge. In his memoir, An Artist's Story of the Great War (1890), he recalled how, on July 3, the field of battle looked "simply terrible. The Confederate dead lay in long lines, as if a giant reaper had been driven over the ground to reap a human harvest. Nothing but admiration ought ever to be felt for the discipline, the splendid courage, of these brave men; while posterity will wonder at the misdirected zeal which brought forth such valor in so unworthy a cause."

Original Author: Edwin Forbes

Created: 1865–1895

Medium: Oil on canvas

Courtesy of Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division

Thomas Benton Horton

Confederate soldier Thomas Benton Horton poses for an 1861 ambrotype, the buttons on his uniform hand-colored a vibrant gold. A farmer from Campbell County, Horton enlisted in the 11th Virginia Infantry at the age of twenty-five and rose to the rank of captain. In December 1861 he was wounded at the Battle of Dranesville, in northern Virginia. Serving in George E. Pickett's division at the Battle of Gettysburg in July 1863, Horton was wounded a second time during the famous infantry attack known as Pickett's Charge. The following year he was captured at Milford Station, and he spent the rest of the war at the Fort Delaware prison camp, in Caroline County, on Pea Patch Island in the Delaware River.

Created: 1861–1865

Medium: Quarter-plate ambrotype on ruby glass with hand-coloring

Courtesy of The Museum of the Confederacy

Armistead's Brigade Casualties on July 3, 1863

This detail from a July 12, 1863, report by Confederate colonel W. R. Aylett charts the casualties (the number of killed, wounded, or missing) suffered by Armistead's Brigade on July 3, 1863, during the Battle of Gettysburg. On that day, Armistead's Brigade—consisting of the 9th, 14th, 38th, 53rd, and 57th Virginia Infantrytook part in the climax of the battle, an infantry attack known as Pickett's Charge. The chart here states that there were 1,191 casualties in the brigade. In addition, General Lewis A. Armistead, the commander of the brigade—listed here as "wounded and captured by the enemy"—died two days after the battle.

In the main body of the report, Aylett—who also was wounded that day—recounted how the brigade moved "across the open field for more than half a mile" under heavy artillery fire "which rapidly thinned its ranks." Still, Armistead's men reached the Union defenders, who were crouched behind a stone wall. After enduring "severe musketry fire" and bursts of artillery, the men in Armistead's Brigade "were compelled to retire leaving more than two thirds of our bravest & best, killed or wounded on the field."

Colonel Aylett made special mention of Armistead. "Conspicuous to all, fifty yards in advance of his Brigade waving his hat upon his sword he led his men upon the enemy with a steady bearing which inspired all breasts with enthusiasm and courage and won the admiration of every beholder," Aylett wrote. "Far in advance of all he led the attack till he scaled the works of the enemy and fell wounded in their hands but not until he had … seen his colors planted over their fortifications."

Original Author: Colonel W. R. Aylett

Created: July 12, 1863

Medium: Handwritten manuscript page

Courtesy of The Museum of the Confederacy

Flag Captured During Pickett's Charge

This Confederate battle flag, which belonged to the 11th Mississippi Infantry Regiment, bears a handwritten inscription at the top. The notation states that the flag was captured by Sergeant Ferdinando Maggi, a member of the 39th New York Infantry Regiment (also known as the "Garibaldi Guard"), on July 3, 1863, the last day of the Battle of Gettysburg. On that day the 11th Mississippi took part in the infantry attack known as Pickett's Charge. The 39th New York was among the Union troops on Cemetery Ridge that took the brunt of the attack and held its position. Sergeant Maggi received special recognition for having captured the regimental flag from the advancing Confederate force.

Original Author: Unknown

Created: Between 1861 and 1863

Medium: Flag

Courtesy of The Museum of the Confederacy

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  • Picketts charge on the Union centre at the grove of trees about 3 PM

    This painting by Edwin Forbes depicts Pickett's Charge, which took place on July 3, 1863, the final day of the Battle of Gettysburg. The scene is from the perspective of the Confederates, who were looking east toward Union troops located in the distance atop Cemetery Ridge. As the Confederates methodically marched forward across nearly three-quarters of a mile of open field, the Union soldiers fired on them, causing massive casualties.

    Forbes was a New York City–born artist who worked as a sketch artist during the Civil War for Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper. He observed a number of battles firsthand and, after the war, made paintings based on his sketches, including multiple scenes of Pickett's Charge. In his memoir, An Artist's Story of the Great War (1890), he recalled how, on July 3, the field of battle looked "simply terrible. The Confederate dead lay in long lines, as if a giant reaper had been driven over the ground to reap a human harvest. Nothing but admiration ought ever to be felt for the discipline, the splendid courage, of these brave men; while posterity will wonder at the misdirected zeal which brought forth such valor in so unworthy a cause."

    Original Author: Edwin Forbes

    Created: 1865–1895

    Medium: Oil on canvas

    Courtesy of Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division

  • Thomas Benton Horton

    Confederate soldier Thomas Benton Horton poses for an 1861 ambrotype, the buttons on his uniform hand-colored a vibrant gold. A farmer from Campbell County, Horton enlisted in the 11th Virginia Infantry at the age of twenty-five and rose to the rank of captain. In December 1861 he was wounded at the Battle of Dranesville, in northern Virginia. Serving in George E. Pickett's division at the Battle of Gettysburg in July 1863, Horton was wounded a second time during the famous infantry attack known as Pickett's Charge. The following year he was captured at Milford Station, and he spent the rest of the war at the Fort Delaware prison camp, in Caroline County, on Pea Patch Island in the Delaware River.

    Created: 1861–1865

    Medium: Quarter-plate ambrotype on ruby glass with hand-coloring

    Courtesy of The Museum of the Confederacy

  • Armistead's Brigade Casualties on July 3, 1863

    This detail from a July 12, 1863, report by Confederate colonel W. R. Aylett charts the casualties (the number of killed, wounded, or missing) suffered by Armistead's Brigade on July 3, 1863, during the Battle of Gettysburg. On that day, Armistead's Brigade—consisting of the 9th, 14th, 38th, 53rd, and 57th Virginia Infantrytook part in the climax of the battle, an infantry attack known as Pickett's Charge. The chart here states that there were 1,191 casualties in the brigade. In addition, General Lewis A. Armistead, the commander of the brigade—listed here as "wounded and captured by the enemy"—died two days after the battle.

    In the main body of the report, Aylett—who also was wounded that day—recounted how the brigade moved "across the open field for more than half a mile" under heavy artillery fire "which rapidly thinned its ranks." Still, Armistead's men reached the Union defenders, who were crouched behind a stone wall. After enduring "severe musketry fire" and bursts of artillery, the men in Armistead's Brigade "were compelled to retire leaving more than two thirds of our bravest & best, killed or wounded on the field."

    Colonel Aylett made special mention of Armistead. "Conspicuous to all, fifty yards in advance of his Brigade waving his hat upon his sword he led his men upon the enemy with a steady bearing which inspired all breasts with enthusiasm and courage and won the admiration of every beholder," Aylett wrote. "Far in advance of all he led the attack till he scaled the works of the enemy and fell wounded in their hands but not until he had … seen his colors planted over their fortifications."

    Original Author: Colonel W. R. Aylett

    Created: July 12, 1863

    Medium: Handwritten manuscript page

    Courtesy of The Museum of the Confederacy

  • Flag Captured During Pickett's Charge

    This Confederate battle flag, which belonged to the 11th Mississippi Infantry Regiment, bears a handwritten inscription at the top. The notation states that the flag was captured by Sergeant Ferdinando Maggi, a member of the 39th New York Infantry Regiment (also known as the "Garibaldi Guard"), on July 3, 1863, the last day of the Battle of Gettysburg. On that day the 11th Mississippi took part in the infantry attack known as Pickett's Charge. The 39th New York was among the Union troops on Cemetery Ridge that took the brunt of the attack and held its position. Sergeant Maggi received special recognition for having captured the regimental flag from the advancing Confederate force.

    Original Author: Unknown

    Created: Between 1861 and 1863

    Medium: Flag

    Courtesy of The Museum of the Confederacy