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| Posted By: on: 07/23/2000 20:58:00 EDT
Subject: RE: THe Great Charge.... Was it Stupidity or Raw Courage or????
Finally caught up to everyone else at this new site.
I walked with Jim in Garnett's Brigade. Bill N-T, etc. all cover the feelings the Rebs must have had. And I think they thought the Yanks would turn and run again, like they had many times and maybe, this time, the sacrifice would really lead to an Independent South. As Gen. Eisenhower once said, "All hindsight is 20/20 vision" so we know what was going to happen even if they didn't (though Pickett's letters to his beloved Sallie make it sound like he sure knew what would happen.)
I was browsing through the pictures that I took that are now on the web. (Thanks Bill!!).... It took me back to that Saturday.. I remeber when I took those, thinking, you have got to be kidding!.. They marched in formation across of a mile in spots of rolling country side, maintaining formation as much as possible... I am out of shape, but I kept thinking, ok they are under fire at this point and at this point they had the presence of mind to dress lines and go back at it. They kept going despite friends, brothers, fathers uncles, family! getting hit, falling, the carnage, and horror. But they KEPT GOING!.. They get to the fence at the Pike, at this point catching the first solid volley fire of the troops on the ridge line, push over through, the fence and now at the double quick get to the wall........ What was it that drove them? what kept them going? Dedication to cause? such fear of dishonor and disgrace that they would rather die then turn back? WOuld we have been of such medal? Could you, I or any of our friends done that??? Was it stupidity on the average soldiers part to keep going? Or was it Raw courage?
I wonder, I wonder......
Was the Charge Stupidy or Raw Courage? Actually probably not either one and at the same time a little of both. To understand why men made that Charge we have to understand a couple of things, Civil War Tactics, the mindset of people back then, as Old Juan pointed out premature death was somewhat more commonplace than today.
Why did soldiers march soldier to shoulder across that field into the face of the enemy? Quite simply (maybe too simply put) Because that's the way it was done. To break through an enemy line you attacked with as many men as possible - you sent 15,000 men against the enemy line, say 6,000 didn't make it to the line, but that still left 9,000 men to break through. Part of this of course was due to the limitations of the weapons at the time, with single shot, relatively slow loading muzzle loaders, the only way to get more bullets fired at the enemy was to put more men in the Line of Battle. The fire and maneuver tactic didn't become practical until weapons weapons improved AND the military strategists realized that there was a better way to fight (?).
But still, what made the men make that awsome march across those fields in the July heat of 1863?
I'm sure I left something out, but those are some of my thoughts on this.