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.