Major General George Pickett
Division Commander, Army of Northern Virginia
The failure of "Pickett's Charge" against the center of the Union line on the third day of the Battle of Gettysburg sealed the union victory. It also marked the turning point of the Civil War. Major General George Pickett never forgave General Robert E. Lee for ordering the risky attack. Five years later, George Pickett commented after a less that cordial meeting with Robert E. Lee, "That old man had my division slaughtered at Gettysburg." John Mosby, the Confederate guerilla leader, replied, "Well, it made you immortal."
George Edward Pickett was born on January 25, 1825 in Richmond, Virginia. He graduated last in the Class of 1846 of the United States Military Academy at West Point. He received a brevet promotion for distinguished service in the Mexican War. In 1859 he refused to yield to the British in the "Pig War" which was a border dispute in the San Juan Islands in the Pacific Northwest.
General Pickett fought in the Battles of Williamsburg, Seven Pines, and Gaines' Mill. He received a severe shoulder wound at Gaines' Mill. He returned to action at Fredericksburg. After Gettysburg, General Pickett was sent to North Carolina. There he distinguished himself with the defense of Drewry's Bluff. He then fought at Cold Harbor. General Pickett's troops were used as mobile reserves at Petersburg. At Five Forks his troops faced Union General Phil Sheridan's army. General Pickett was away from his command attending a picnic when the Union army attacked and overwhelmed the Confederate positions. General Lee relieved Pickett of his command during the subsequent retreat because of this failure.
George Pickett fled to Canada after the Civil War to avoid prosecution for the mistreatment of Union prisoners while he was commanding in North Carolina. He returned to the United States after he was given a pardon by Ulysses S. Grant. George Pickett sold insurance in Norfolk, Virginia during his final years, and he died on July 30, 1875.
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