July 3, 1863 - Third Day
"The flags flutter and snap - the sunlight flashes from the officers' swords - law words of command are heard - and thus in perfect order, this gallant army of gallant men marches straight down into the valley of Death!"
Pvt. Randolph Shotwell, C.S.A.
8th Virginia Infantry
About 3:00 p.m., following a furious two-hour cannonade, Confederate infantry launched a massive frontal assault from this ridge against the center of the Union line on Cemetery Ridge ahead. The Confederates who comprised this section of the line were Virginians commanded by Maj. Gen. George E. Pickett.
The Southern attackers, 12,000 strong, surged forward in a line of battle a mile long. As they marched across the Emmitsburg Road and approached the enemy line, the Federals raked them with deadly canister and musket fire, Nevertheless, with unsurpassed courage, the Southerners pressed on.
Pickett's men gained a small lodgment in the Union line at the Angle, but could not hold it. Casualties mounted, and the attack lost momentum. By 4:00 p.m. Confederate survivors came streaming back to the shelter of this ridge. The Confederate tide had reached its high water mark.
(Numbered References to the panoramic photo of the field):1. Ziegler's Grove
The most prominent landmark on Cemetery Ridge. The Confederates directed their attack against that section of the Union line running from here south to the Copse of Trees.
2. Emmitsburg Road
Fences bordering this sunken road impeded the advance of Confederate infantry
3. The Angle
Here, where a stone wall makes a 90? turn, Confederates broke through the Union line. In one of the most desperate engagements of the war, the Southerners were beaten back.
4. Copse of Trees
Also known as the "Clump of Trees."
5. Point of the Woods
You may walk a short path to this point where General Lee rode out to console his defeated men. A wayside exhibit describes the scene.