War on Two Fronts: Shiloh to Gettysburg

By John Cannan | Go to book overview

RAWLEY W. MARTIN


In Pickett's Ranks

On 3 July, after a tremendous bombardment around 1500, the doomed assault forever known as Pickett's Charge was launched on its impossible mission. As the picturesque lines of butternut and gray advanced against the enemy, their ranks were torn apart by the increasing swell of thundering cannon and eruptions of deadly musketry. Though some Southerners were able to break through the Yankee defenses, these gains were quickly lost and the survivors retreated to the safety of their own lines. Rawly Martin, member of the 53rd Virginia, wrote of his recollections of the fatal offensive in the Southern Society Historical Papers.

In the effort to comply with your request to describe Pickett's charge at Gettysburg, I may unavoidably repeat what has often been told before, as the position of troops, the cannonade, the advance, and the final disaster are familiar to all who have the interest or the curiosity to read. My story will be short, for I shall only attempt to describe what fell under my own observation.

You ask for a description of the "feelings of the brave Virginians who passed through that hell of fire in their heroic charge on Cemetery Ridge." The esprit du corps could not have been better; the men were in good physical condition, self reliant and determined. They felt the gravity of the situation, for they knew well the metal of the foe in their front; they were serious and resolute, but not disheartened. None of the usual jokes, common on the eve of battle, were indulged in, for every man felt his individual responsibility, and realized that he had the most stupendous work of his life before him; officers and men knew at what cost and at what risk the advance was to be made, but they had deliberately made up their minds to attempt it. I believe the general sentiment of the division was that they would succeed in driving the Federal line from what was their objective point; they knew that many,

-390-

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War on Two Fronts: Shiloh to Gettysburg
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents *
  • Preface to the Series 9
  • Chapter I - Fort Henry and Fort Donelson *
  • Gunboats on the Tennessee 13
  • The Defense of Fort Donelson 18
  • Fort Donelson Surrenders 27
  • Chapter II - Pea Ridge *
  • Bloody Arkansas 56
  • Chapter III - Shiloh *
  • U.S. Grant Shiloh 62
  • Shiloha Private's View 76
  • Behind Confederate Lines 89
  • Drummer Boy of Shiloh 103
  • Chapter IX - Kentucky Invaded *
  • The Iuka-Corinth Campaign 106
  • A Yankee in Mississippi 125
  • My Old Kentucky Home 135
  • When Johnny Comes Marching Home 136
  • Chapter V - Vicksburg *
  • The Perryville Campaign 138
  • Charge of the First Tennessee at Perryville 161
  • On to Vicksburg.. 165
  • Champion Hills and Black River 178
  • Capturing Vicksburg 190
  • Treating the Wounded at Vicksburg 203
  • Chapter VI - Chancellorsville *
  • Hooker Takes Command 214
  • The Chancellorsville Campaign 222
  • Lee Triumphant 238
  • Routing the Yankees 271
  • Jackson's Mortal Wound 283
  • Misadventures in the Wilderness 292
  • Behind Confederate Lines 302
  • Chapter VII - The Road to Gettysburg *
  • Riding with J.E.B Stuart 310
  • On to Gettysburg 326
  • The Iron Brigade's Great Battle 330
  • Chapter VIII - The Second Day of Slaughter *
  • Gettysburgthe Second Day 342
  • The Stand of the 20th Maine 357
  • Until God Stopped Them.. 365
  • Both Sides Were Whipped .. 371
  • On the Attack against Sickles 375
  • Under Fire 383
  • Chapter IX - Highwater Mark of the Confederacy *
  • In Pickett's Ranks 390
  • All This Has Been My Fault.. 395
  • Retreat from Gettysburg 401
  • The Girl I Left behind 411
  • When This Cruel War Is over 412
  • Sources 413
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