Megan (jehoshabeath) wrote,

Pickett's letters, Pettigrew's special song

I've been reading Gen. Pickett's letters to Sally this week. I've found them to be both lovely and terrible to read. His account of the charge at Gettysburg was heart-breaking and you can tell that his words were sincere and deeply felt.

'I closed my letter to you a little before three o'clock and rode up to Old Peter for orders. I found him like a great lion at bay. I have never seen him so grave and troubled. For several minutes after I had saluted him he looked at me without speaking. Then in an agonized voice, the reserve all gone, he said:
"Pickett, I am being crucified at the thought of the sacrifice of life which this attack will make. I have instructed Alexander to watch the effect of our fire upon the enemy, and when it begins to tell he must take the responsibility and give you your orders, for I can't."
While he was yet speaking a note was brought to me from Alexander. [Possibly one of these?] After reading it I handed it to him, asking if I should obey and go forward. He looked at me for a moment, then held out his hand. Presently, clasping his other hand over mine without speaking he bowed his head upon his breast.' (page 98-99)

'Even now I can hear them cheering as I gave the order, "Forward!" I can feel the thrill of their joyous voices as they called out all along the line, "We'll follow you, Marse George. We'll follow you-we'll follow you." Oh, how faithfully they kept their word-following me on-on-to their death, and I, believing in the promised support, led them on-on-on-Oh, God!
I can't write you a love-letter to-day, my Sally, for with my great love for you and my gratitude to God for sparing my life to devote to you, comes the overpowering thought of those whose lives were sacrificed-of the broken-hearted widows and mothers and orphans. The moans of my wounded boys, the sight of the dead, upturned faces, flood my soul with grief-and here am I whom they trusted, whom they followed, leaving them on that field of carnage' (page 102)

In other reading, Gen. Pettigrew was firing on Fort Sumter in SC and I found a regimental song that must have come from that same period before he enlisted in the war in Virginia in 1861. I wonder, just wonder, what expectations, observations, and dreams he had?

With all this reading about Southern officers, I feel that I need to stumble upon some interesting Union officers for a while. Unfortunately, my curiosities do not follow any schedule and as of yet no Federal officers have struck my fancy. After watching Gettysburg, I was tempted to look into Col. Vincent's story, as he was a Pennsylvania man and an honorable one, too; but then I remembered that his tale ended quite tragically and so I decided against the idea.

The rainy 40-degree weather outside makes me happy to be indoors in a warm, dry, and quiet apartment that is equipped with tea, tea mugs, and plenty of snacks. My umbrella is drying in the corner and I am procrastinating on all the things that I need to do over the course of this weekend.
Tags: books, history, weather, weekend

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