Portrait of George Pickett

Pickett’s Charge was named for Major General George Pickett, one of three Confederate generals who led the assault. [Wikimedia Commons]

Pickett's Charge Facts

July 3, 1863

Key facts about Pickett's Charge at the American Civil War Battle of Gettysburg.

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Date and Location

  • July 3, 1863
  • Adams County, near Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

Campaign

Principal Union Commanders

Principal Confederate Commanders

Union Forces Engaged

  • 2nd Army Corps (Army of the Potomac)

Confederate Forces Engaged

  • Three divisions from the 1st and 3rd Corps (Army of Northern Virginia)

Number of Union Soldiers Engaged

  • Roughly 5,000

Number of Confederate Soldiers Eengaged

  • Roughly 12,500

Estimated Union casualties:

  • 1,500 casualties (killed and wounded)

Estimated Confederate Casualties

  • 6,500 casualties (killed and wounded)

Result

  • Union victory

Significance

  • Lieutenant General James Longstreet argued against his orders from Confederate commander Robert E. Lee to launch the attack against Cemetery Ridge on July 3, 1863.
  • The three Confederate division commanders who were ordered to execute the attack on Cemetery Ridge were Major General George Pickett, Brigadier General J. Johnston Pettigrew, and Major General Isaac R. Trimble.
  • Pickett’s Charge was named for Major General George Pickett, one of three Confederate generals who led the assault.
  • At a council of war on the night of July 2, 1863, the Union Commander at the Battle of Gettysburg, General George Meade, correctly predicted that Confederate commander Robert E. Lee would order an attack on July 3 against the center of the Union lines positioned on Cemetery Ridge.
  • About 135 Confederate cannons bombarded the Union line for an hour before Pickett’s Charge.
  • During the course of Pickett’s Charge, Confederate General Lewis Armistead’s brigade breached the Union line, but they were thrown back by a Federal counterattack. Some historians have referred to Armistead’s advance as the High Water Mark of the Confederacy.
  • The infantry assault on Cemetery Ridge lasted less than one hour.
  • Reportedly, General Pickett was inconsolable after the assault and never forgave General Lee for ordering it.
  • During the late twentieth century, Pickett’s Charge was romanticized in the popular media through works such as Ken Burns’ public television documentary, The Civil War, Michael Shaara’s novel, The Killer Angels, and its movie adaptation, Gettysburg.
  • The farthest point reached by Confederates during Pickett’s Charge has been referred to as the high-water mark of the Confederacy.

Timeline of the Gettysburg Campaign

These are the main battles and events of the Gettysburg Campaign in order.

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Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Article Title Pickett's Charge Facts
  • Coverage July 3, 1863
  • Author
  • Website Name American History Central
  • Access Date July 27, 2021
  • Publisher R.Squared Communications, LLC
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update March 14, 2021
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