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three in Whitworth opened on them. Their advance was not much retarded by this weak fire, and they soon got within reach of the musketry fire of both Gregg and Whitworth. The three guns in Whitworth swept the ground well in front of Gregg, but, as the enemy, advanced, they were withdrawn without orders from Gen. Wilcox. The main effort of the enemy seemed to be directed against Gregg. He advanced boldly against it, and, as the glittering array drew near, men could be seen falling rapidly under the close musketry fire of the little detachment in the fort. Three or four times did the enemy stagger and give way. But the attack was constantly renewed. Six Federal flags were counted on the parapet at one time, and still the contest continued. At last the little work was entirely surrounded; Federal troops, standing thick upon the parapet, fired down among the devoted men who still, with clubbed muskets, refused to surrender; and, when finally the flag of the enemy was secured on the work, it was found that not more than thirty of its defenders remained not killed or wounded. Such heroism has no parallel in the war. There had been nothing like it, no instance where a force so small had held in check so long such overwhelming numbers, and inflicted such losses upon the enemy. The Federal General Gibbon, who commanded the corps that took the fort, told Gen. Wilcox, at Appomattox Court House, that it had cost him from 800 to 1,000 men, killed and wounded.*
It is needless to repeat here any part of the sorrowful story of Gen. Lee's retreat. The painful stages, the desperate straits of the hard-pressed army have already been related. In the last scene in which it stood, Gen. Wilcox was conspicuous, having been ordered to support Gordon in his fearful enterprise of forcing an exit to Lynchburg. As his division moved, and two of his brigades advanced to engage the enemy, Gen. Wilcox rode rapidly forward to communicate with Gordon, and had barely reached him when a horseman was seen in the direction of the enemy waving a white handkerchief and galloping towards the Confederate lines. As he approached, he was discovered to be a Federal officer, and proved Gen. Sheridan himself. Wilcox readily recognized him, as Sheridan had graduated at West Point when he was an instructor there. The latter asked “if it was true that there was a correspondence going on between Gens. Lee and Grant, with the view of suspending hostilities." Gen. Wilcox was about to answer in the negative, not having been advised of such a correspondence, when Gordon, who had just ridden from the front, spoke up and remarked that he had just been ordered to pass a flag, and forward it to Gen. Lee. Sheridan replied, “if that is the case we should arrest this affair at once, and have no more people hurt.” He ordered his troops to be retired out of view; Wilcox at the same time withdrawing his two brigades, and releasing some prisoners that had been captured by his skirmishers. Groups of officers quickly collected between the two lines; many of Gen. Wilcox' old West Point acquaintances rode forward to greet him, among whom were Gens. Gibbon, Griffin, Merritt and Ayres, and, as they awaited news of the conference of the two Commanding Generals, a free and pleasant conversation sprung up, in which present animosities seemed to be forgotten in recollections of the past and hopes of the future.
* Fort Gregg could be seen some months ago, an interesting monument of the war. It was a lunette. Across its gorge, some fifty yards wide, was planted a palisade of pine posts, and in these were loop-holes to allow musketry fire in that direction. On the other portions of the work was a deep ditch, and in it water collected from the rains. The parapet was too high to be surmounted from the ditch without the aid of ladders. On the right, dirt had been dug and thrown up, and it had been designed to connect Gregg with Whitworth. This, however, was not done, and an embankment extended some twenty yards, which the enemy mounted, and got thence on the parapet of Gregg.
This brief sketch of the military life of Gen. Wilcox, shows him constantly identified with the Army of Northern Virginia. His reputation in this army commenced early, never declined, and grew to one of the most famous names of the war. He was known to the last as one of the most gallant and intrepid officers of the armies of the Confederacy. He had other distinguished elements of character and is not likely to be forgot or overlooked in the changes which have ensued upon the close of the war. Unimpeachable habits, integrity of aim and purpose, capacity and cultivation of the highest order, assure the reputation of the past, and promise, even in new walks of life, a brilliant destiny.
His gallantry in the Mexican War.Spirited action of Capt. Pickett in the "San
Juan Difficulty."-Position of the State of Virginia in the Sectional Controversies. --Pickett's early appointments in the Confederate States Service. The “GameCock Brigade,” in Longstreet's Division.--Memorable and heroic action of Pickett's Division at Gettysburg.- Account of it in the Richmond Enquirer.Gen. Pickett's expedition on the North Carolina Coast.-His return to Petersburg. --How “The Cockade City" was narrowly saved.-Operations around Petersburg.--Gen. Lee's Compliment to Pickett's men.-The Battle of Five Forks.The suppressed official report of Gen. Pickett.-His last tribute to his troops.-Historical glory of "The Virginia Division."
GEORGE E. PICKETT is the eldest son of the late Col. Robert Pickett, of Turkey Island, in the county of Henrico, Virginia. He was born in the city of Richmond; entered West Point in June, 1842, and graduated in June, 1846. In the autumn of this year he was assigned to duty, with the rank of brevet second lieutenant, and joined the United States army then in Mexico.
arrival; but in the winter following, the command, to which Lieut. Pickett belonged, joined the expedition of Gen. Scott against the city of Vera Cruz. From Vera Cruz to the city of Mexico, Pickett served as second lieutenant in the 8th Infantry, Worth’s command, and was noticed in the reports of Gen. Scott for his gallant conduct in the battles of Contreras, Cherubusco, Molino Del Rey, and Chapultepec. He was brevetted first lieutenant for gallantry at Contreras, and, "for gallant and meritorious conduct" at Chapultepec, he received the rank of captain.
After the close of the Mexican War, and until 1861, Capt.
Pickett was on duty in Texas, and in New Mexico, Oregon and Washington Territories. Before the great war between North and South bursted upon the attention of the world and gave another and largest date to the military annals of America, the name of Capt. Pickett was actively and very honourably associated with an interesting historical incident. In March, 1855, he had been appointed captain in the 9th Infantry. In 1859 the American settlers on the island of San Juan complained to Gen. Harney, who commanded the department of Oregon and Washington, of outrages by the Indians, and aggressions threatened by the British. A great excitement was occasioned; there was every appearance of a serious complication with the British Government; and Capt. Pickett was ordered to take military possession of the island, as an initiatory measure of what might become a state of war. The order was promptly obeyed, and a camp was formed with a force of about sixty United States troops.
In this position Capt. Pickett was found by three vessels of war gent by the British Governor Douglas to enforce his authority. These vessels anchored with their broadsides commanding his camp; and Pickett was “ warned off” the island, and then summoned before a British magistrate. He took no notice of these communications. After some parley, a proposition was made to land from the vessels a force equal to his own; and to this he was asked to accede in the sense of a joint military occupation of the island. In obedience to his orders, Capt. Pickett declined the proposal, and declared his purpose, to fire upon the British force if a landing was attempted. The impending collision was prevented by the timely arrival of Admiral Baynes, by whose order the commencement of hostilities was postponed.
The arrival of Lieut. Col. Casey with reinforcements soon fol. lowed, who took command of the island, as representative of the United States, and named his post “Camp Pickett," in recognition of the cool courage and daring of his brave subaltern. The difficulty was afterwards adjusted by Gen. Scott in proper person, who consented to the joint military occupation proposed by the British. Gen. Harney recommended Capt. Pickett for a brevet, "for the cool judgment, ability and gallantry he had displayed,” and President Buchanan instructed Gen. Scott to retain Pickett in command of the United States forces upon the island. These instructions
were at first complied with, but afterwards, at the instance of Gov. Douglas, Gen. Scott thought fit to remove the obnoxious representative of American rights. He was, however, subsequently replaced in command by Gen. Harney, and remained at his post until 1861.
The dark clouds of war which had been gathering over the country were now ready to break. The native State of Capt. Pickett had been called upon, in the name of the Government of the United States, for her quota of troops, to carry war and devastation into her sister States of the South. She had refused. Her every effort as peacemaker had been unavailing, her counsel scorned, her solemn protests treated with contempt. Virginia, whose people in the struggles of '76 had turned a deaf ear to the voices of Royal favor and patronage, and sprung to arms at the sound of musketry upon the plains of Lexington; Virginia, whose sons animated with the love of liberty, inheriting from their fathers generous tempers and chivalric feelings, thrilled by the eloquence of the immortal Henry, made straightway march to the Heights of Boston, to aid the colonists of Massachusetts in striking off the fetters of tyranny; Virginia, whose colonists in the very beginning of her existence had appealed to their Mother Country for protection against the introduction of African slaves; Virginia, whose honoured sons gave to the United States its Constitution, and whose ever true allegiance to the Union as it was, and as it should be, time and impartial history will vindicatenow called in the voice of distress and anguish to her sons for help to resist the unjust and unholy attempt upon the part of these people, whose friend and ally she had been in their time of trouble, to subvert her government, conquer her people, destroy her every right, and strip her of her sovereignty.
Capt. Pickett answered the call of his native State. He resigned his commission, and after delays, trials, and troubles—many, sore and grievous-reached Richmond, the then capital of the Southern Confederacy. He at once received a commission as Colonel and was assigned to duty on the lower Rappahannock. In February, 1862, he was made a Brigadier in Longstreet's division of the Army of the Potomac. His brigade was composed of the 8th, 18th, 19th and 28th Virginia Regiments, formerly commanded by Philip St. Geo. Cocke. This brigade and its commander bore an