Pickett'S Charge Essays

Contending that by this date memory had thoroughly won out over historical accuracy, Reardon laments the fact that in popular opinion Virginia alone received credit for the glorious defeat that was Pickett's Charge.

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The review you are about to read comes to you courtesy of H-Net -- its reviewers, review editors, and publishing staff. But, argues Carol Reardon, such has been the "chameleonlike aspect" (p.

If you appreciate this service, please consider donating to H-Net so we can continue to provide this service free of charge. Translate this review into "Pickett's Charge" has always been something of a misnomer, a name firmly attached to an assault that in reality was not led by Gen. 3) of Pickett's Charge that its longstanding hold on the American imagination has "demanded little adherence to historical fact" (p. For a country seeking reconciliation, Reardon explains, Pickett's Charge quickly came to exemplify the "timeless values of gallantry, heroism, and noble sacrifice" (p.

While the northern press understandably heralded Union success, the southern press (concentrated mainly in Richmond) gave Pickett's name to the climactic July 3 assault and provided a strong "foundation of facts and fancy for legend building and myth making" (p. Historians and other writers used these often inaccurate newspaper reports as the basis for their postwar battle narratives.

By the 1870s, Reardon explains, two points about Gettysburg were commonly accepted whatever their grounding in fact: that it was the turning point of the war and that Pickett's men were its most courageous heroes.

Indeed, she has looked at so many newspaper accounts, battle narratives, and unit histories that future historians will be in her debt for gathering together in one volume so much information about how Americans viewed Pickett's Charge between 18.

Despite Reardon's determined effort to track down and cite obscure primary sources, however, she gives short shrift to relevant secondary sources, particularly those dealing with the popular legacy of Gettysburg and the Civil War.These two regiments were involved in an acrimonious quarrel with the 72nd Pennsylvania infantry (known as the Philadelphia Fire Zouaves), a disagreement over honor that included accusations about whose forces had really held the Angle and which men had broken under fire.Their reputations at stake, proper placement of the regimental monuments became all important, so much so that the issue was ultimately decided (in favor of the 72nd Pennsylvania) by Pennsylvania's highest court.Noting that the former enemies praised each other's courage and shook hands at the Angle, Reardon exaggerates the ingenuousness of these gestures when she concludes that "Virginian and Pennsylvanian parted close friends" (p. Reardon acknowledges in chapter five, "Monuments to Memory," that not all northern veterans were as willing as the Philadelphians to extend a hand of friendship to the South.Still, she persuasively argues, in commemorating the twenty-fifth anniversary of the charge in 1888, many Union regiments paid so much attention to the defeat of Pickett and his men that the northerners essentially accepted the heroism of the Confederates as an undisputed fact.4), values Americans associated most strongly with Virginia troops.However much North Carolinians ridiculed "Pickett's newspaper charge" and griped that "Pettigrew lost more men" than Pickett's Division; when it came to popular memory, Reardon concludes, "Pickett and his men decisively won" (p. Following a short prologue, Reardon lays out the details of her story in eight brief chapters.The T-shirt wars confirm that Pickett won out over Pettigrew.The question of Pickett versus Pettigrew is an old one, asked most pointedly in a polemic published by North Carolinian William R. His is one of hundreds of primary sources Carol Reardon consulted for her study of Pickett's Charge.Where history cannot be pinned down, however, memory is somewhat easier to discern: after Gettysburg, the Union survivors savored their victory and the Confederates looked for an explanation for their defeat.Reardon's second and third chapters describe newspaper and historical accounts of Pickett's Charge.


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