This Week in the Civil War - 606

Jul 4, 2013

July 3, 1863: Gettysburg’s third day dawned as the Federals prepared to be attacked by Lee’s Confederates.  Flanking attacks had been tried fruitlessly against the Union line.  Lee gambled that a direct assault against Meade’s center would crack the Union line.  Success or failure would fall squarely on the shoulders of General George Pickett and his veteran units. 

At 1 p.m. a two hour artillery duel ensued before Pickett’s brigades began their one mile long march across open ground toward the Union center.  Union artillery and small arms fire decimated Pickett’s brigades; only a handful of Southerners temporarily breached the Union lines. 

For all purposes Pickett’s charge ended the Confederates’ chances of prevailing at Gettysburg.  The following morning a long train of wagons carrying Lee’s wounded  retreated southward from Gettysburg.