Pickett's Charge


13 Taken from near the Virginia Monument. The troops were actually assembled a little further forward, where they could not be directly observed from Cemetery Ridge. The Pickett's Charge photos and pages will be numbered from 13 to 1. The lower the number, the closer to Cemetery Ridge. The distance traveled before the next picture was taken is irregular, however. Whenever I topped a ridge or crossed a valley, I stopped and took a few shots.

13 Looking a bit to the right. "The Hole" and the trees in front of it are obscured by the ever so gentle hill where Sickles made his stand on Day 2.

I wish I had panned one step further to the right. One of the mysteries of Gettysburg is Captain Johnston's Reconnaissance. On the morning of July 2, Lee and Longstreet consulted on proposed actions from somewhere near where this picture was taken. They sent Captain Samuel Johnston and Major John Clarke on a reconnaissance to Little Round Top. The reconnaissance returned, and reported having gotten to the hill, and reported encountering no Union troops along the route. This reconnaissance resulted in an assumption that the Union south flank was wide open, and contributed to the decision to launch Longstreet's July 2 assault from the south.

Students of the battle have been wondering ever since how it was possible for Johnston and Clarke to have reached Little Round Top without encountering Union forces. Reviewing reliable records, this should not have happened. Little and Big Round Tops are distinctive terrain features. It is thus difficult to imagine how Johnston and Clarke could have mistakenly reached the wrong hill.

Just to the right of the above picture, the very tops of Big and Little Round Tops would be barely visible behind Sickle's Hill, the 'non extant' hill topped by the Peach Orchard. Is it possible that Lee or Longstreet, standing somewhere near where the above picture was taken, summoned Johnston and Clarke in the early morning of July 2? They pointed to the Round Tops, rising barely above Sickles' Hill, and said "Scout that hill?" Is it plausible that Johnston and Clarke could have reached the top of Sickles' Peach Orchard hill without encountering Union Troops, and thought they had reached their objective?

The above will not be the most accurate map you will find of the Gettysburg field, but as viewed from the Virginia monument (VL), the Round Tops (LRT & BRT) are behind the Peach Orchard hill (PO).

Next: 12 through 9