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04 July 2020


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This is a family commissioned portrait by Keith Rocco working off an old photo. Major Williamson, 6th Virginia Infantry, lost the left arm later in the war and was head of buildings and grounds at VMI for a long time.


Meade was at Fredericksburg and learnt a lesson there that he applied at Gettysburg. I am not a fan of either Pickett or Burnside.


"He did not seem to partake of that wild enthusiasm which seized and possessed almost every other individual in his command. Cool, calm, and collected, he discharged the duties of his position very much after the style with which he discharged them in the camp or bivouac. He had too much pride of character to shrink from danger, and this is, after all, the sum total of courage"

"On approaching a fence, amid a terrific fire of artillery and small-arms, Colonel Neff stopped in an exposed position, and the writer, in passing him, inquired if he had any orders to communicate. He replied, "None; go to the fence and do whatever you may regard as necessary to be done." These were the last words that he was ever heard to utter."

- Captain David H. Walton, remembering Col. John F. Neff 33rd Virginia Infantry


A couple of questions & comments:

1] How did Meade correctly predict the point of attack as said by many historians? Was it because it was the center of the Union line? Or because of the salient (The Angle) at Gibbons' pos? Or some feature of the terrain there? I don't believe Meade had spies on Lee's staff or had insight into Lee's thinking.

2] Why is it called Pickett's Charge? Pettigrew's Division attacked on his left. So did Trimble's Division also on the left although they made little progress. And overall command was by Longstreet.

3] Why do most accounts of Gettysburg neglect to mention or pass over the charge of the 1st Minnesota Volunteers on the day before Pickett's. That charge resulted in 82% casualties for the Minnesotans and kept Wilcox's and Lang's Brigades from taking Cemetery Ridge until more Union forces could be brought up. Wiki says: "The 82% casualty rate stands to this day as the largest loss by any surviving military unit in U.S. history during a single day's engagement." A good read is Richard Moe's book 'The Last Full Measure', published five years prior to Shaara's novel of the same title.

4] Why do most accounts ignore the Union artillery chief General Henry Jackson Hunt whose guns decided the outcome at Gettysburg? And who was the Confederate general that reportedly said "Give me Confederate infantry and Union artillery, and I'll whip the world!" ? I'm hoping to soon snag a copy of Longacre's bio of Hunt: https://www.amazon.com/Man-Behind-Guns-Biography-Commander/dp/0306811545


PS -

I had meant to add this, another Keith Rocco painting. This one of the 1st Minnesota:

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