July 3rd. Pickett's Charge. Most with even a wee-bit of knowledge about the Civil War are aware of Pickett's Charge... The huge cannonade prior to, and then seemingly the entire Confederate line moving forward to try to pierce the center of the Union line and if they succeed, it was the opinion of their chief, Robert E. Lee that the battle and maybe the war was over. Not so fast Robert! If anyone has studied the battle a little or watched the move "Gettysburg" they know that Lee's top general Pete Longstreet was very much against the charge. He felt it was going to be a failure. And of course it was. Some historians have painted a picture that the charge could have succeeded. And yes there was a chance. Kind of like the chances of an 2-10 football team beating a 10-2 football team. Yes there was a chance, just not a very good chance. Was R.E. Lee a knucklehead for ordering the charge? That would be a good question. There is much evidence to support the notion that R.E. Lee was not in the best of health during the Gettysburg Campaign. Some have suggested that he may have even suffered a mild heart attack. Certainly that could have affected his judgement. He could have also been overconfident. The prior two battles the Confederates won, Chancellorsville and Fredericksburg were won rather handily. The Army of Northern Virginia had repeatedly beaten the Army of the Potomac going back to the First Bull Run. And even when the Northern Army did win, it wasn't a clear victory. I think it would be understandable to think that R.E. Lee had very high expectations for his army. Lee could have also known that this was his lastest, bestest chance to totally decimate the Union army opposing him. In other words, he swang for the fences. And against a different Union commander, Lee may of pulled it off. But his counterpart, George Gordon Meade was tenacious if nothing else. Even after being on the losing end by a lot on July 1st and on the losing end by a little on July 2nd, his army was still there on July 3rd. Previous commanders may have retreated towards Washington DC to lick their wounds after July 2nd, but not Meade. Plus the Union Army had home field advantage fighting in Pennsylvania. The 12th man seemed to cause many units to play the game a little harder than what they had previously. Lee's grand scheme was to: 1. Bombard the Union line with as many cannon as he could muster. 2. Have a cavalry division try to sneak around the Union rear to cause confusion. 3. Have several divisions charge towards the Union center. The cannonade was massive. Between the Southern and Northern guns, it was the largest cannonade ever in the western hemisphere. The trouble for the South is that it did very little damage. Now the cavalry raid in the rear of the Union position... Well a young general by the name of George Custer kind of broke up that attempt. That left the charge. And even though the charge is kind of mislabeled by calling it "Pickett's Charge" in that Pickett's division was just one of many participating, the charge ended up being a massive failure. A couple hundred soldiers did manage to kind of break through the front Union line, General Meade had plenty of reserves behind to mop up any residual mess. Pickett's division was destroyed. Supposedly Pickett said, "That Old Man (R.E. Lee) destroyed my division". And even if that isn't entirely accurate there is no doubt Pickett felt ill will towards Lee throughout the rest of the war. After charge ended, a Union Cavalry general ordered a cavalry charge towards one end of the Confederate line thinking the Southern army was ripe for the taking... Other than killing a bunch of Union cavalrymen including a general, the battle was over at that point.