Sunday, June 29, 2008

Moments before the charge: General Pickett says goodbye to his wife-to-be

A few moments after General James "Old Pete" Longstreet reluctantly gave General Pickett his orders to begin the assault on the Union positions on Cemetery Ridge, General Pickett scribbled the following words on an envelope containing a letter to his wife-to-be, LaSalle "Sallie" Corbell:

"If Old Peter's nod means death then goodbye and God bless you, my little one."

He then presented the envelope to General Longstreet and aksed him to mail it. Pickett later reported that Longstreet had tears streaming down his cheeks as he accepted the letter. [Note: complete text of Pickett's letter is presented in this forum.]

As Sallie Corbell Pickett reports in her book Pickett and his men, Longstreet did indeed see to it that General Pickett's letter was mailed, and included with it some words of his own. Longstreet wrote:


MY DEAR LADY: General Pickett has just intrusted to me the safe conveyance of the inclosed letter. If it should turn out to be his farewell the penciled note on the outside will show you that I could not speak the words which would send so gallant a soldier into the jaws of a useless death. As I watched him, gallant and fearless as any knight of old, riding to certain doom, I said a prayer for his safety and made a vow to the Holy Father that my friendship for him, poor as it is, should be your heritance. We shall meet. I am, dear lady, with great respect, Yours to command,

James Longstreet

No comments: