Then, at the brief command of Lee,
Moved out that matchless infantry,
With Pickett leading grandly down,
To rush against the roaring crown
Of those dread heights of destiny. . . .
The place was Gettysburg, Pa., the day July 3. 1863. After 48 hours of indecisive struggle with the Union Army, Confederate General Lee determined to stake the battle on one supreme assault against Federal General Meade's centre entrenchments on Cemetery Ridge. To lead the charge General George Edward Pickett (West Point 1846) was selected. At noon his division of less than 5,000 fresh Virginia troops was lined up below Seminary Ridge. At 1 p. m. 140 Confederate guns burst into a terrific preliminary bombardment. At 2:45 p. m. General Pickett led his men in perfect parade formation out to the most famed charge in U. S. history.
The acrid air bellowed and belched with battle fury. A mile away across open fields and up a hill lay the objective. As the Confederates advanced, Union canisters chewed great holes in their line. When their thinned ranks started up the Ridge, General Pickett elevated his cap on his sword point, cried above the awful din: "Men of Virginia, follow me!" And follow him they did, with many a rebel whoop, straight up Cemetery Ridge into the point-blank fire of 10,000 Union rifles. With astounding bravery the ragged remnants of grey stormed over the Union breast-works, drove the enemy back, planted their flags "amid the guns of Doubleday." For ten. perhaps 20 minutes, they held their gain inside the shattered Federal line. It was the high tide of the Confederacy.
Unsupported by reserves, General Pickett and his men were driven off by a Union counterattack. The charge flowed backward down the Ridge. Three out of four men who started the assault were left dead or wounded on the field. Next day Lee's army was in retreat southward and the Confederate tide was on its two-year ebb to Appomattox.
General Pickett survived the charge, died in 1875, was buried among his enlisted men in Richmond's famed Hollywood Cemetery where lie, all with their wives, U. S. Presidents Monroe and Tyler, Confederate President Jefferson Davis,* Generals James Ewell Brown Stuart and Fitzhugh Lee.
Last week in Washington died La Salle Corbell ("Mother") Pickett, the General's widow. To lie beside her husband in Hollywood Cemetery was her dying wish. After her body had been cremated, her grandson George Edward Pickett III requested the Ladies Hollywood Memorial Association to permit him to bury Mrs. Pickett's ashes there. Mrs. John F. Bauer, president of the Association, refused the request on the ground that the section of the cemetery in which the General lay was reserved for Confederate men and that a "bad precedent" would be set if this rule were revoked. Piqued, Grandson Pickett announced his intention of exhuming the General's body and transferring it to Arlington National Cemetery where his wife could rest beside him. Confronted with the loss of one of the Confederacy's heroes, the Ladies Hollywood Memorial Association reconsidered, decided to admit "Mother" Pickett's ashes despite the rules.