This quick video condenses Pickett’s Charge from Gettysburg from 30 minutes to about 4. Plus it throws in some dramatic music to boot.
Some ideas to fascinate your students:
- Pickett’s Charge was the literal high-water point of not only the Battle of Gettysburg, but the entire Confederate war effort. Remember, Gettysburg was deep in Northern territory. Not only had Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia fended off assault after assault from the Union, he was now taking the fight to Northern soil. Had Pickett’s suicidal charge broken the Union lines, perhaps the North might have decided it had sacrificed enough trying to bring the rebelling states back in line. Or France or Britain might have thrown their support to the Confederates.
- Pickett’s Charge fully captures the idiocy of Civil War battle tactics, where men marched in neat orderly ranks in the face of increasingly accurate weapons. First Union artillery tore up their lines, then mortars, and finally withering volleys of rifle fire. I cannot imagine a worse 3/4 mile hike. Of the 12,500 Confederate soldiers who set off, only half would return.
- Adding insult to injury, only one day later Ulysses S. Grant would capture Vicksburg, the Confederate’s last toe-hold on the Mississippi. That cut Texas, Arkansas and Louisiana off from the rest of the Confederacy. Combined, the two defeats ensured the South would be on the defensive for the rest of the war.