Pickett’s Charge

Chapter 20 – Pickett, Pettigrew, and Trimble’s Charge

Pickett's Charge

Chapter 20 – This poem, Pickett’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.

Pickett's Charge General Pickett

 General Pettigrew

 General Trimble

General Lewis Armistead


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


General Lewis 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 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

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

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

Armistead was then shot

In his arm, chest, and side


Armistead’s vision blurred

The sky whirled round and round

Mortally weary wounded

When he hit the ground


Go to Chapter 21

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