George Pickett — Facts and APUSH Notes

January 16, 1825–July 30, 1875

APUSH Definition — George Pickett (1825–1875) was an officer in the Confederate Army during the Civil War. He is known for being one of three commanders that led a failed assault on Union forces entrenched on Cemetery Ridge on July 3, 1863, known as Pickett’s Charge.

George Pickett, Confederate General

George Pickett was one of three division commanders who led a massive Confederate assault, popularly known as Pickett’s Charge, on Union troops entrenched on Cemetery Ridge during the Battle of Gettysburg on July 3, 1863 (Image Source: Wikimedia).

Who was Civil War officer George Pickett?

After the outbreak of the American Civil War, George Pickett accepted a position as a major in the Confederate Army on March 16, 1861, although he did not resign from his United States Army commission until June 25. Less than one year later, Pickett received a promotion to the rank of brigadier general on January 14, 1862. During the Battle of Gaines’ Mill (June 27, 1862) Pickett was severely wounded and left combat for the rest of the summer. He returned to the field in the autumn of 1862, receiving a promotion to major general on October 10.

At the Battle of Gettysburg, Confederate General Robert E. Lee chose Picket as one of three division commanders to lead an assault on Union forces entrenched on Cemetery Ridge on July 3, 1863. Later known as Pickett’s Charge, the frontal assault was a disaster that was a pivotal event during the battle, resulting in Union victory. Following Gettysburg, Pickett’s career and subsequent reputation declined. On September 23, 1863, he received command of the Department of North Carolina. In May 1864, Pickett rejoined the Army of Northern Virginia in time for the Petersburg and Appomattox campaigns. Although the evidence is inconclusive, some historians claim that Lee relieved Pickett of his command on April 6, 1865. If Lee did relieve Pickett, apparently Pickett was unaware of it, as he took part in the surrender of Lee’s army at Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865.

Following the Civil War, Pickett fled briefly to Canada, in fear of reprisal for the hanging of Union prisoners in 1864. When Ulysses S. Grant announced he would not press charges, Picket returned to Norfolk, Virginia, in 1866 to farm and work as an insurance agent. On June 23, 1874, Congress passed legislation granting Picket a pardon for his role in the war. Pickett died in Norfolk, Virginia, on July 30, 1875, at the age of fifty. His remains are buried in Hollywood Cemetery, Richmond, Virginia.

Battle of Gettysburg, Pickett's Charge
This illustration depicts Union troops on Cemetery Ridge, firing on Confederate troops during Pickett’s Charge. Image Source: Libary of Congress.

George Pickett Facts for APUSH

Birth and Early Life

  • Full Name: His full name was George Edward Pickett.
  • Parents: His parents were Robert and Mary Pickett.
  • Date of Birth: He was born on January 16, 1825, alternatively January 25 or January 28, 1825.
  • Birthplace: He was born in Richmond, Virginia.

Family Tree

  • Spouse: He had three spouses, Sally Harrison Steward Minge (1851), Morning Mist (c. 1857), LaSalle “Sallie” Corbell (1863).

Death

  • Death: He died on July 30, 1875.
  • Place of Death: He died in Norfolk, Virginia.
  • Burial: He is buried at Hollywood Cemetery, Richmond, Virginia.

Education

He attended the United States Military Academy in 1846.

Career

He worked as a military officer.

Career Summary

He was a Captain (USA) and Major General (CSA).

George Pickett — Summary of His Life and Accomplishments for APUSH

  • According to his baptismal record, George Edward Pickett was born on January 16, 1825, in Richmond, Virginia.
  • Some historical accounts set the date of George Pickett’s birth as January 25 or January 28, 1825.
  • George Pickett was the first of eight children born to Robert and Mary Pickett.
  • After attending local academies in Virginia, and studying law in Springfield, Illinois, George Picket received an appointment to the United States Military Academy in 1841.
  • George Pickett’s classmates at West Point included future Union General George B. McClellan and future Confederate General Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson.
  • George Pickett graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1846, last in his class of 59 cadets.
  • During the Mexican-American War, George Pickett received brevet promotions to first lieutenant and captain.
  • After the Mexican-American War, George Pickett served in the American West.
  • George Pickett was promoted to first lieutenant in 1849.
  • George Pickett was promoted to captain in 1855.
  • In January 1851, George Pickett married Sally Harrison Steward Minge, the daughter of Dr. John Minge of Virginia.
  • George Pickett’s first wife, Sally, died during childbirth in November 1851, in Texas.
  • While stationed at Fort Bellingham in Washington Territory, George Pickett married his second wife, a Haida Indian named Morning Mist.
  • In 1857, George Pickett’s second wife died soon after the birth of their son, James Tilton Pickett.
  • George Pickett accepted a position as a major in the Confederate Army on March 16, 1861, even though he did not resign his U.S. Army commission until June 25, 1861.
  • George Pickett was promoted to brigadier general in the Confederate Army on January 14, 1862.
  • George Pickett was shot in the arm during the Battle of Gaines’ Mill (June 27, 1862), placing him out of action on medical leave for three months.
  • George Pickett was promoted to major general in the Confederate Army on October 10, 1862.
  • George Pickett was one of three division commanders who led a massive Confederate assault, popularly known as Pickett’s Charge, on Union troops entrenched on Cemetery Ridge during the Battle of Gettysburg on July 3, 1863.
  • Pickett’s Charge was a severe Confederate defeat and was a pivotal event during the Battle of Gettysburg, and during the American Civil War.
  • On September 15, 1863, George Pickett married his third wife, LaSalle “Sallie” Corbell, in Petersburg, Virginia.
  • In February 1864, George Pickett had twenty-two Union prisoners hanged for treason, after discovering that they were former Confederate soldiers who had switched sides.
  • During the last stages of the Civil War, Pickett’s division was defeated at the Battle of Five Forks (April 1, 1865) prompting Confederate commander Robert E. Lee to order the evacuation of Richmond and retreat toward Appomattox Court House, Virginia.
  • While his division was being defeated at the Battle of Five Forks, George Pickett was away at a shad bake.
  • Some historians believe that Confederate General Robert E. Lee relieved George Pickett of his command after the Battle of Sayler’s Creek (April 6, 1865).
  • George Pickett surrendered with Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s army at Appomattox Court House, Virginia on April 9, 1865, and was paroled the same day.
  • Following the Civil War, George Pickett fled to Canada in fear of reprisal for hanging twenty-two Union prisoners of war in 1864.
  • George Pickett returned to Norfolk, Virginia in 1866 to farm and work as an insurance agent.
  • It was not until June 23, 1874, that Congress passed legislation granting George Picket a pardon for his role in the Civil War.
  • George Edward Pickett died in Norfolk, Virginia on July 30, 1875, at the age of 50.
  • Fort Pickett, in Blackstone, Virginia, is named in honor of George Pickett.

Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations, including APA Style, Chicago Style, and MLA Style.

  • Article Title George Pickett — Facts and APUSH Notes
  • Date January 16, 1825–July 30, 1875
  • Author
  • Website Name American History Central
  • Access Date July 14, 2024
  • Publisher R.Squared Communications, LLC
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update January 12, 2024

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