RAWLEY W. MARTIN
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,