Chapter 28

by Christopher Rudolph © 2015

Chapter 28 – This poem, Pickett, Pettigrew, and Trimble‘s Charge, focuses on the Confederate assault of the Union Center line on July 3rd, 1863. 15,000 Confederate soldiers marched across an open field. It was a total disaster. All along the way they were plastered with cannon fire. When they got closer they also were ripped to pieces by musket fire and double cannister shot. General Lewis Armistead led some Virginians that actually made it to the Union Center line where they fought at close range with muskets, bayonets, pistols, knives, and even fists. Not enough of the Rebels made it to the other side and they were swarmed by the Union troops. Those that were not wounded or killed retreated. In all the Confederates suffered 50% casualties in the Pickett, Pettigrew, and Trimble charge.

 General Pickett

 General Pettigrew

 General Trimble

Chapter 28 – Pickett, Pettigrew, and Trimble’s Charge

 

The Confederate guns went off

One split second after the last

Nonstop explosions

Like one continuous blast

 

Erupting in the grove

And on the ridge left

Ear splitting barrage

Enough to make one deaf

 

Armistead saw explosions

Yankee turf blown up high

Shells landing exactly where unkown

Underneath a smoky sky

 

Pickett was in front of him

Wildly waving his hat

Longstreet motionless

On a fence rail sat

 

First Union shells landing

Came down in the trees

Then in the field behind

Smoke making it difficult to see

 

Armistead’s brigade was waiting

Near an open field of rye

Waiting to charge across a field

Where so many of them would die

 

Regiments were lying

In company rows

As if planted in the earth

Soldiers sacredly sowed

 

Shells continued bursting

In puffs everywhere

Waiting and waiting to charge

Toward the Union lair

 

Armistead saw Pickett writing

What was certainly a poem

To his dearest Sallie

Promising to make it home

 

Pickett saw war

As God’s glorious game

A chance for a brave man

To honorably gain fame

 

Longstreet knew all too well

War could be sport for glory

But also a living Hell

Survivors tell the story

 

Armistead knew his fate

It was all now very clear

He would die today at Gettysburg

He would never leave here

 

For he had promised his friend Hancock

After many tears shed

If he ever lifted a hand against him

May God strike him dead

 

And now restless to attack

Powerless to change the plan

Attacking his dear old friend

It was now in God’s hands

 

Then the cannonade slowed

The officers did stand

Off in the distance

Was the playing of a band

 

Pickett then went to Longstreet

“I shall go forward sir” 

Wordless Longstreet nodded

Silently he concurred

 

Garnett and Kemper’s men

On the right quickly walking

Armistead’s men next

Close behind stalking

 

A little over to the left

Was Trimble and Pettigrew

Marching to the other side

Determined to cut through

 

Now they were all racing

Across a field of death

So many soon to

Exhale their last breaths

 

Garnett was mounted riding

His leg too weak to walk

Refused to stay out of the fight

He never again would be mocked

 

Exposed to all fire

Upon his Bay Gelding horse

An attractive target to hit

Sure to die of course

 

Union artillery opened up

As they approached Emmitsburg road

A mile of men marching

The earth shuddered and explode

 

To the left still marching fast

Were Pettigrew’s division

Trimble’s right behind

Advancing with precision

 

“Close it up, steady boys

That’s just fine

Now you can see the enemy

We’re no longer blind”

 

Then a fiery shell

Flew closely over Armistead

Exploding behind

Leaving a line of men dead

 

From then on in

Shells began to pour

Raining down like hail

Killing by the score

 

Shrapnel whirled and swirled

Hot steel zagged and zig

Ripping flesh and spilling guts

Just like butchered pigs

 

“Close it up, keep marching”

Over wounded bloody red

“Close it up, keep marching”

Over piles newly dead

 

From the Rocky Hill

Came a horrific enfilade

Shells bursting on the right

Decimating Kemper’s brigade

 

Shooting right down the line

Sometimes with solid shot

Like bouncing bowling balls

Pins were the men that fought

 

But still the Rebels raced forward

Now in range of Union musket fire

Yankees crouched and shooting

Situation more than dire

 

Armistead looked over right

Garnett on his horse Red Eye

Dear Richard still riding forward

Heeding his internal battle cry

 

All the men shifted left

The advance began to slow

Canisters shot like bloody hail

And it steadily did grow

 

Thousands of metal balls

Whirling through the air

Men murderously screaming

Now caught in a lethal snare

 

Armistead tried to push forward

But men stumbled and choked

For an instant he saw the Union line

Then it disappeared in smoke

 

Then the Rebel line left broke

But Armistead marched ahead

Then the Rebel line right broke

As he climbed forward over the dead

 

Garnett was still mounted

Waving his hat shouting orders

The Angle wall now near

He furiously urged his men forward

 

Then Garnett fell off Red Eye

After a bullet ripped through his head

He lay upon the blood soaked field

Dear Richard was now dead

 

Still 200 men strong

Armistead raised his mighty sword

“With me Virginians!

Let’s continue to move forward!”

 

Armistead placed his hat on the tip

Of his raised sword for all to see

“Come on boys, give them the cold steel!

Who will follow me?”

 

Then a canister blast burst

Felling all the men on the right

Armistead and his remaining men

Pushed over the wall to fight

 

They came down

They were on the other side

Fighting hand to hand

Filled so much with pride

 

Armistead was then shot

In his arm, chest, and side

Blood flowing profusely

But he had reached the great divide

 

Armistead’s vision blurred

The sky whirled round and round

Only a few men still fighting hand to hand

When he hit the ground

 

A Union Officer stood over him

He was not captured but dying

Eventually death comes to all

His soul readying for flying

 

He had but one last request

For he really wanted to see

His dear old friend Winfield Scott

Then he could be free

 

But the news was bad

Much to his chagrin

For in the battle he’d been shot

Not possible to see Old Win

 

Armistead was a brave soldier

Just like Hancock the Superb

Good old friends

On opposite sides at Gettysburg

 

Old Win survived his wound

But Lewis Addison Armistead passed away

Like a good old soldier

He just faded away 

 

Go to Chapter 29

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