Thousands of Average Americans Participate in 'Pickett's Charge'

Thousands of Average Americans Participate in 'Pickett's Charge'

On the final day of the Gettysburg 150th Anniversary, July 3, thousands of average American citizens lined up to recreate “Pickett’s Charge” from both the Union and Confederate sides of the line. Stephen K. Bannon, host of the Breitbart News live broadcast of the Commemoration of Pickett’s Charge, said that there were about “ten to twelve thousand people” involved, and that roughly 50% were under 30 years-old.

Participants gave both Union and Confederate chants, played famous songs from both sides–such as “Dixie” and “The Battle Cry of Freedom,” and carried numerous battle flags.

Most of the participants in the charge, like those who fought 150 years ago, were just regular Americans from Middle America. They came to pay tribute to the men who fought and died at a critical moment in their country’s history.

Pickett’s Charge looms large in the American mind as it is considered the “high tide” of the Confederacy, the turning point of the battle and the war, and the greatest example of the strength and courage of the men who fought in the Army of Northern Virginia. But the stand by the Union Army, stretched thin by the fighting on July 1-2, was not overlooked.

A staggering 19 Medals of Honor were awarded to those who fought at Cemetery Ridge, where the Union center held strong.  Finally, after years of running from Robert E. Lee’s Confederate Army, the Union Army of the Potomac stood its ground. The Confederate army lost its aura of invincibility and it became only a matter of time before Union victory would be complete. A staggering 19 Medals of Honor were awarded to those who fought at Cemetery Ridge, where the Union center held strong.  Gen. Alexander Webb led much of the defense and was one of those recipients.

Gen. Abner Doubleday, who is was at the Battle of Gettysburg and mistakenly given credit for inventing baseball, wrote of Webb in his book, Chancellorsville and Gettysburg (1863):

Although Webb’s front was the focus of the concentrated artillery fire, and he had already lost fifty men and some valuable officers, his line remained firm and unshaken. It devolved upon him now to meet the great charge which was to decide the fate of the day. It would have been difficult to find a man better fitted for such an emergency. He was nerved to great deeds by the memory of his ancestors, who in former days had rendered distinguished services to the Republic, and felt that the results of the whole war might depend upon his holding of the position.

Visitors recognized that, 150 years ago, uncommon valor became commonplace on America’s most hallowed ground. Tens of thousands of people made the trek to the battlefield to walk in the steps of those men, and remember the incredible acts of courage.

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Photo source: Flickr/Ronzzo1